A 23-year old black man in Ashtabula, Ohio, was shot by police officers last week after officers responding to a 911 call found two men scuffling in a home, one holding a weapon. The police ordered the man to drop the gun, but when he refused, the officers shot him. After searching the home, police found drug paraphernalia, scales, illegal narcotics and a substantial sum of money.
This story shows how dangerous policing can be, and how some officers are left with no choice but to respond with deadly force when criminal drug dealers endanger the lives of law-enforcement officers and the public at large.
Except the man who police shot is still alive—albeit in critical condition—and witnesses at the scene say that none of this account is true.
It all began early on the morning of June 2, when 23-year-old Brendan Hester called 911 after he found an intruder in the home he shares with his brother.
But unlike the police version of the incident, which completely failed to mention that the victim of the police shooting was the occupant of the home, witnesses tell a story that diverges from the standard narrative that police gave initially. The Root spoke with Jacqueline Greene, the Hester family’s attorney, who described a much different account of the incident.
Greene told us that police have been close-lipped about the incident since issuing an initial statement to the media, none of which appears to be verifiable. Almost every detail of the police story is disputed by the actual witnesses on the scene, Green told us.
What is verifiable is that the girlfriend of Brendan’s brother dialed 911 while Brendan held the intruder at gunpoint until the police arrived, protecting his brother, the girlfriend and Brendan’s young nephew, who was also in the home. Police showed up around 5:14 a.m., according to reports.
“Police have reported that they ordered Brendan to drop the gun, however, this is not true,” Greene told us. “They didn’t order him to drop the gun. Brendan was shot immediately upon the police entrance into the home, and there was no scuffle going on at the time the police entered that house.
“The police have not made any claim that Brendan was a threat of serious physical harm to anybody in that space,” Greene noted. “We just find the circumstances highly suspicious and are pushing for a thorough investigation.”
As for the mounds of dope and drug money the cops found? According to Green, police found a small amount of marijuana and an amount of cash that “any working person would be carrying around.”
See how that works?
Aside from their initial statement that basically accused Hester of living in a dope house, police have not made any statements, leaving the Hester family, his community and local media in the dark.
Don’t worry—I’m sure this is an isolated incident. I’m sure that all those times the police killed someone and left no witnesses were totally legitimate shootings. Don’t jump to conclusions just because Brendan Hester is black. Don’t call this racism just because the police burst into a home, saw a black man with a gun and started shooting.
Just because they didn’t ask any questions before they started blasting bullets at the people they are sworn to protect and serve doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Just because their facts are disintegrating into lies doesn’t mean they are hiding something. And please don’t bring up stuff like Hester’s constitutional right to own a gun or the fact that he did exactly what every police officer would tell a person to do: He called the police and waited for them to handle the situation, yet somehow ended up shot.
It doesn’t mean the police are racist just because they pulled that trick again where they make their charges disappear after their bullets somehow magically appear inside one of our bodies. It shouldn’t mean anything just because it’s one of us.
It’s always one of us.
Through Greene, Hester’s family told us that he is in critical condition with two bullet wounds—including one in his back—for doing the exact-right thing: protecting his family in observance of the law. I’m sure the National Rifle Association is on its way to help the Hester family with the piles of money it gets from gun manufacturers. Any minute now, a powerful politician will stand up and talk about Brendan Hester’s Second Amendment rights.
Hester is now a contributor to the long list of things a black man cannot do if he does not want to be shot. He joins an illustrious list of names that include Trayvon Martin, who showed us the dangers of carrying Skittles and wearing hoodies; Philando Castile, who famously posed a threat by reaching for his wallet after he was instructed by police to reach for his wallet; Terence Crutcher, who perfectly illustrated the menace of a black man walking away with his hands in the air; and Eric Garner, who, umm ... well ... was just too big and black.
The Ohio Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation, so I’m sure everything will be OK.
Since 2005, of the roughly 12,000 people killed by police, only 26 law-enforcement officers have been convicted for killing someone in an officer-involved shooting.
Read more at News 5 Cleveland.