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Was It Murder? Video of Police Shooting an Unarmed Latino Man Sparks Debate

A recently-released video of a police shooting in California has renewed debate about what constitutes excessive force by police. The video shows police stopping three men at gunpoint. The men hold their hands up but one man drops his hands for a moment before pulling a hat off his head. When the man reaches for his hat, police officers open fire on the man, killing him and wounding another man.

Watch for yourself (WARNING: Graphic Video):

Credit: Los Angeles Times / YouTube

So what’s the deal? 

In 2013, Ricardo Diaz Zeferino was shot and killed by police in Gardena, California. Gardena Police officers believed Diaz Zeferino and his two friends were possible suspects in the robbery of a bicycle from a nearby CVS pharmacy. During the police stop, 35-year-old Diaz Zeferino was shot by officers who said he did not comply with their commands. He was unarmed. His friend, Eutiquio Mendez, was also wounded in the shooting.

End of story? No. It turns out Diaz Zeferino and his two friends actually reported the stolen bicycle. They were riding around the neighborhood in their bicycles to look for the stolen bike when they were stopped.

Diaz Zeferino’s family sued the city of Gardena, claiming police had violated Diaz Zeferino’s civil rights. The Gardena Police maintained that the shooting was lawful. They pointed out that Diaz Zeferino appeared to reach for his waistband and did not comply with commands. An autopsy of Diaz Zeferino also revealed he had alcohol and methamphetamine in his system. Diaz Zeferino’s family said he was just trying to tell police he was innocent. 

The city of Gardena settled with the family for $4.7 million and the officers were cleared of wrongdoing. A federal judge also ordered dash cam video of the incident to be released.

Credit: Associated Press / YouTube

Diaz Zeferino’s brother Augustin Reynoso, told the L.A. Times the settlement is not enough: “Nothing is sufficient, not even the money. A life is more important than the money.”

Do you believe police used excessive force? Let us know in the comments below.

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Handcuffed And Pepper-Sprayed By New York Police Officers

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Handcuffed And Pepper-Sprayed By New York Police Officers

Police brutality is a civil rights violation that has long affected the Black community as well as other minority groups. While the issue has been highlighted extensively by these communities it seems that it’s only been very recently that the general public has developed concern over the issue. This is despite the fact that in so many ways police brutality has not only deeply harmed communities but also sparked major political and social movements such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s and anti-war demonstrations. So much so in fact, the United States has developed an ill-famed reputation for cases of police brutality. Particularly when it comes to the police’s mistreatments and murders of minors like Nolan Davis, Cameron Tillman, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Over the weekend, an incident in Rochester, New York brought attention to the issue once again after body camera showed officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl.

The incident which took place last Friday showed officers brutally restraining a little girl after responding to a call for “family trouble.”

The Rochester Police Department in New York released body camera footage Sunday showing officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl while responding to a call for “family trouble.”

In two disturbing videos, the little girl can be screaming for her father as officers attempt to restrain her. “You’re acting like a child,” a male officer yells at her in the video. “I am a child,” she screams in reply.

“I’m gonna pepper-spray you, and I don’t want to,” a woman officer warns the girl while attempting to put her feet inside of the police car.

“This is your last chance. Otherwise pepper spray is going in your eyeballs,” the officer adds.

The girl begged the officers not to spray her before they did.

Once pepper-sprayed, she cried, “It went in my eyes, it went in my eyes.” The child and her family, nor any of the officers involved in the incident have yet to be identified.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK,” Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan of Rochester said at a press conference Sunday. “It’s not. I don’t see that is who we are as a department.”

This incident isn’t the first for the Rochester Police.

The police department’s top officials resigned last September after protests broke out over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation after Rochester officers put a hood over his head. Prude’s face had been pinned to the ground by police.

Speaking about the incident Rochester’s Mayor Lovely Warren said that the pepper spray incident was “not something any of us should want to justify.”

Warren said watching the video of the young girl reminded her of her own daughter. “I have a 10-year-old daughter. So she’s a child. She’s a baby,” Warren explained. “And I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. I saw my baby’s face in her face.”

According to Warren, she has asked for the police chief to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation in relation to the incident. She also noted that she welcomed a review from the police accountability board.

The incident reportedly occurred after officers responding to a report of “family trouble” around 3:21 p.m last Friday. Police reported to the area and were alerted that the 9-year-old girl was “upset” and “suicidal” and had indicated that she “wanted to kill herself and that she wanted to kill her mom.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.

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After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

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After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

Last week, after President Donald Trump incited riots and terrorism at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. the tenth chief of the United States Capitol Polic, Steven Sund, submitted his letter of resignation. His resignation came hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned his reaction to the violent insurrection at the capitol and called for his termination. During a press conference, Pelosi expressed her disbelief at Sund’s failure to “even” make a call during the breach. Speaking about his lack of action, Pelosi said “There was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police,” referring to Sund.

At the time of his resignation, Sund informed members of the Capitol Police Board that his resignation will begin on Jan. 16. Now, to fill his place, the U.S. Capitol Police have appointed a Black woman as the department’s acting chief .

Two days after the riots at the Capitol, Yogananda Pittman was named the acting chief on the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website

Pittman joined the department in 2001 and is the first woman and first Black person to lead the organization. According to NPR, Pittman “as been with the force since April 2001 and was named acting chief on Friday, according to the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website. That came two days after pro-Trump extremists faced off and eventually overwhelmed security forces at the U.S. Capitol complex.”

Pittman’s career at USCP has been described as “distinguished.”

In 2012, she became one of the first Black female supervisors to rise to the rank of captain. NPR notes that “in that role, she oversaw more than 400 officers and civilians and was an integral part of the security planning for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration the following year, according to her biography… Her first assignment with the USPC was in the Senate Division, where she was assigned to provide “security and protective details for U.S. Senators and visiting dignitaries.”

Last October, Pittman was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Women in Federal Law Enforcement’s Outstanding Advocate for Women in Federal Law Enforcement award.

“It is very important for young female law enforcement officers to see someone who looks like them in leadership positions,” Pittman said in a statement in response to her award. “It says to them that these positions are obtainable and available to them.”

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