Chavis: A Familiar Tale of Police Misconduct

We seem to live in a bizarre universe where violence against unarmed black men is OK.

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Infamous cases include that of 23-year-old Sean Bell, shot four times in the neck and torso on the night before his wedding in 2006. Leaving a New York City nightclub after his bachelor party, Bell was driving away when undercover police, they claim, heard someone yell "gun" and began shooting -- a total of 50 times -- killing Bell and severely injuring two other men. No weapon was ever discovered in Bell's car, and three of the five police involved in the shooting death were indicted and charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault. Yet all three officers were found not guilty, on all charges.

Kendrec McDade, an unarmed 19-year-old college student, was shot to death in Pasadena, Calif., this past March after two officers believed that he was involved in a robbery and mistakenly thought he had a weapon. McDade suffered seven bullet wounds -- three of which sliced through arteries in his lower abdomen and upper right arm. The police have yet to be charged. A federal suit filed by McDade's parents claim that their son was handcuffed as he lay dying and did not receive medical assistance for a prolonged period of time.

Student athlete Trayvon Martin turned 17 just three weeks before his shooting death at the hands of a self-appointed neighborhood-watch captain, George Zimmerman. Trayvon was holding Skittles and iced tea, but police believed his killer's story: that he'd only acted in self-defense against the teenager. Zimmerman was initially released, with the murder weapon, and is currently free on bail awaiting trial.

And black females are not immune to the violence.

Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old African-American woman, was killed in Chicago this year by Dante Servin, a white, off-duty police detective. Boyd was with a group of friends when Servin opened fire -- he also claims in self-defense -- against a 39-year-old African-American man named Antonio Cross, who stood adjacent to Boyd. Servin originally claimed that Cross had approached him with a gun, but an independent police review later found that no weapon was found and Cross had been holding a cellphone.

In what alternate universe do these events occur in a civil society?

Why are black youths met with deadly violence at the hands of police officers who are supposed to protect and serve them? Why are African-American boys and men, in particular, never given the dignity of victimhood? And why are the perpetrators so often allowed to go unpunished for the taking of their lives?

"I think they killed him," said Carter's mother, Teresa, referring to officers Ron Marsh and Keith Baggett, who detained the 21-year-old. "My son wasn't suicidal." Teresa also says that her son was left-handed, which makes a self-inflicted wound -- on the right side of his head -- all the more curious and unbelievable.

The FBI confirmed that it is launching an independent investigation, but at present, local police stand by their initial conclusions. Chief Yates said that he viewed the video recording from the vehicle's dash cam and can see no shot coming from outside the car. However, no independent viewings of the dash cam have been confirmed, and the video has not been released to the press.

From Mississippi burnings to Arkansas shootings, police officers appear to be guided by the Jim Crow principle that black men "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

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