Things That Matter

Horrific Footage Shows Police Officers Shooting Teen In The Back Of The Head And His Partner’s Response Is Shocking

The proliferation of security and surveillance cameras has revealed cases of police malpractice and brutality that usually target Black and Brown minorities. These cases range from people being stopped by police cars and then getting beaten up following a minor discussion, to instances in which police officers fire their weapons with fatal consequences. Since the bashing of Rodney King in 1991, a case of police brutality that was caught on camera and sparked outrage in the Black community, the police has been increasingly scrutinized and instances in which procedure is not followed lead to legal battles. 

Such was the case involving Officer Ray Villalvazo and teenager Isiah Murrietta-Golding, who was fatally shot by the officer during a chase in Fresno, California.

The chase happened after Isiah and his brother were approached by the police while driving a car. They were suspects in the killing of a man who had been shot and then crashed his car into a tree the day before. Isiah’s brother later pleaded guilty to the murder. The footage of Isiah’s death has resurfaced due to a wrongful death lawsuit that is being contested. Yes, Isiah shouldn’t have run away, but, according to the teenager’s father, who acts as the plaintiff, the killing was premeditated and unjustified. Also, there is a justifiable suspicion in these cases when it comes to discrimination towards minorities. 

The incident took place in April 2017, but the heart-wrenching footage has just been released.

The incident took place while police was chasing Murrieta-Golding, an unarmed suspect. The fact that he wasn’t carrying a weapon is key, as the use of blunt force was ultimately unnecessary because the suspect did not represent a clear and imminent threat to the officers. However, an Office of Independent Review investigation concluded that the shooting was justified because the policemen believed that Murrieta-Golding was reaching for a weapon. As the Daily Mail reports, independent reviewer John Gliatta wrote: “‘The reasonableness of force is based on the officer making a split second decision after observing the suspect reaching for his waistband area several times during the foot pursuit”. But the footage questions whether the decision was really made in a split-second. 

Yes, Murrieta-Golding was wanted in connection to a homicide . Yes, as we have said he was a fugitive and the officers were within their rights to capture him, but that does not mean they had to shoot him while he was running away. 

The cop’s partner says “Good shot!” after the gun is fired… as if they were hunting or playing a video game.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the video is the soundtrack, in which you can hear Villalvazo’s partner praising him for the shot. “Good shot!”. That is as wrong as it gets, from any point of view in which you wish to analyze it. It objectifies the suspect turned victim and makes killing seem inconsequential, like not a big deal. We can only imagine the suffering that was inflicted to Murrieta-Golding’s family after hearing these words. This kind of language is totally dehumanizing, and an affront to anyone who has been the victim of police brutality or who has lost a loved one in a similar way. 

This takes police brutality to a whole new level: it reveals systematic cruelty.

Murrieta-Golding was shot on the back of the head after he had jumped a fence. He died three days later in the hospital. The boy’s father watched the video and now he believes that the use of lethal force was not justified.  Legal analyst Tony Capozzi told ABC30: “From the video, the officer just comes up, crouches down, and shoots”. This description is chilling as it describes a calculated, cold action that does not seem to have been a “split-second decision”. 

The plaintiff’s attorney is now pushing to consider the shooting unjustified, and the bodycam footage potentially supports the claim.

As ABC 30 reports, plaintiff’s attorney Stuart Chandler, who represents the boy’s father, said: “Isiah and his brother were considered possible or probable suspects. There was not a warrant for their arrest. There was no conduct by Isiah that day to ever show that he had a gun – because, of course, he didn’t”.

In the bodycam footage we can see the teenager stopping and then jumping the fence surrounding a daycare facility, at which point the officer aims and shoots. Chandler continued: “The law says there has to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, which clearly there wasn’t. This young man was trying to run away. And you can be as critical as you want about how you shouldn’t do that, but it doesn’t give police the right to use lethal force”. The trial is set for October 2020. And Chandler is gearing up for the case, having recently told CNN: “The fact that the police department and the city of Fresno’s police auditor all agreed that this shooting was justified is troubling in light of the video that clearly shows that it’s not”.

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

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There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the country has struggled with how to best respond to police brutality and racial inequality. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the world) have poured into the streets demanding justice and police accountability.

Although more Black Americans have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd – and long before him – police reform is finally starting to take shape. Several communities across the United States are discussing ways to defund and restructure their police forces and their entire approach to supporting and protecting communities.

Although several victories have already been won, there is still so much work to do to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

Minneapolis will defund and dismantle their police force.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a proposal to change the city charter to allow the Police Department to be dismantled – this is the first step in removing the police force.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that still faces significant obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach

Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are defunding their police departments.

Credit: Emily Uite/ Getty Images

Aside from completely dismantling the police, several major cities have committed to defunding their police departments. “Defund the police” has become a common protest chant, as protesters want to see the billions of dollars spent on police equipment and enforcement to instead be spent on investing in communities.

Several jurisdictions have implemented total bans on the police use of choke holds – like the one that killed Eric Gardner.

The NYPD has long banned the use of chokeholds, however, their ban is so often ignored by officers that viral videos of NYPD cops using the deadly maneuver are common. But the New York City Council has just adopted an ordinance that officially makes police use of a chokehold a misdemeanor offense.

The legal ban has already been put into action as an NYPD officer was caught on video using one against a suspect. That officer has already been fired and charged.

Although several police departments have long banned the chokehold – for example, the LAPD banned them 40 years ago – cities are now starting to actually attempt to enforce the ban with legal consequences.

For the first time in decades, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a police reform bill.

Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to address racial inequities in policing, despite strong public sentiment for effective reform after Floyd died in Minneapolis as a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In June, the House passed sweeping legislation to address racial inequality in policing but the bill is all but dead on arrival in the Senate, and has a formal veto threat from Trump.

The bill addresses chokeholds, no-knock warrants, police body cameras, use of deadly force, and training to de-escalate confrontations with suspects and to encourage officer intervention against illegal conduct as it occurs.

And one thing is clear – these reforms have the support of most Americans.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Most Americans believe that change must be made to law enforcement across the nation and that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against Black Americans.

The poll, which was conducto de by Ipsos on behalf of Public Agenda and USA TODAY, found that about three in four people surveyed say racial bias against Black Americans is a serious problem in the U.S.

The poll found several reforms that focused around training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring all officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring all officers to undergo training on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more Black Americans to become police officers.

Even more popular: transparency reforms. Nine in 10 respondents supported having officers wear body cameras, 8 in 10 supported requiring police departments to publicly report all incidents involving the use of force within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported creating a national public database of officers who have used excessive force – and prohibiting other jurisdictions from rehiring them.

An NYPD Officer Is Seen Choking A Black Man Just Days After Officials Banned The Use Of Chokeholds

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An NYPD Officer Is Seen Choking A Black Man Just Days After Officials Banned The Use Of Chokeholds

David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Even though police brutality and the way officers systemically abuse Black Americans is finally gaining mainstream attention, officers continue to put Black lives at risk.

As the country struggles to figure out ways to move forward when it comes to addressing policing of Black communities – attacks on those communities continue. Over the weekend, a Black man in New York was attacked by an NYPD officer in what the police commissioner is calling an “apparent chokehold” – even though chokeholds have long been banned by the department.

A viral video shows an NYPD officer using a chokehold on a Black man as people shout at him to stop.

An NYPD officer has been suspended without pay after a video of him allegedly attacking a man in what the police commissioner has called an “apparent chokehold.”

A video shot by one of the man’s friends – who he was hanging out with – showed a group of NYPD officers tackling a black man, with one of them putting his arm around his neck as he lay face-down on the boardwalk. Several bystanders start to yell, “Stop choking him, bro!” But only after another officer tugs at the cop’s shirt – a move that has received praise from officials for some reason.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the man who was attacked by police suffered any serious injuries – but he was able to get up on his own after the cop got off of him.

The officer, who was identified by the New York Daily News and other local media outlets as David Afanador, was one of several seen in the video attempting to detain 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue, who has a history of mental illness, according to family members.

It’s still not exactly clear what provoked the officer to attack the man.

Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Although the NYPD has already released body camera footage that shows at least 11 minutes of the interaction, it’s not exactly clear what happened between officers and Bellevue. In the police body cam video, you can see three men pacing back and forth and they are – at times – shouting at the officers. But at one point, the officers rushed the Black man and the ensuing struggle lasts for about 30 seconds.

In the aftermath, one officer’s body camera video captured him explaining the situation to a woman who turned up at the scene and said she was a relative of the man who had been handcuffed, and that he was mentally ill.

“They were all talking all types of crazy stuff to us and we did nothing,” he said. “What changed everything is when he grabbed something and squared up and was going to hit my officer.”

Some officials have spoken out in praise of officers who ‘intervened’ to stop the chokehold.

Even though the police who intervened was just doing what he should be doing, officials are praising him for his actions.

“The officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing,” Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday night. “I commend him. That is what we need to see from all our officers.”

The Police Commissioner, Dermot Shea, said in a statement that “a full investigation is still underway, but there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary.”

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor De Blasio tweeted: “This is the fastest I have ever seen the NYPD act to discipline an officer….This is how it needs to be.”

Although chokeholds have long been banned by the NYPD, they’re still commonly used.

Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Although the NYPD has long had an official policy against chokeholds, they’ve still been commonly used. Their use has been especially controversial in the wake of the 2014 death of Eric Gardner, after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Meanwhile, at the city and state level – officials are trying to implement legal consequences for officers who continue to use chokeholds. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a sweeping package of police accountability measures including a ban on chokeholds following protests over George Floyd’s killing.

The New York City Council just passed a law last week making it a criminal misdemeanor for an officer to use a chokehold during an arrest, regardless of the level of injury that chokehold may have inflicted. And a new state law named for Eric Garner, deemed the technique a felony offense if the officer gravely injured or killed a person in the course of using it. While chokeholds have long been banned in the city, the new measures add layers of potential punishment for rule-breaking cops.