16 Unarmed Black People Killed by Police this Year

Originally published on December 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

At least 16 unarmed black people have been killed by police officers this year including a woman and two children. According to law enforcement officials, these people lost their lives in instances of poor police training, miscommunication, justified tactics, and excessive brutality. Although the majority of unarmed individuals killed by police this year have been black, officers have also been killing unarmed people of other races.

On January 16, Jordan Baker was allegedly killed in a case of mistaken identity. Working off-duty as a mall security guard, Houston PD Officer Juventino Castro confronted Baker because he fit the description of some robbery suspects who had recently held up three stores while wearing black hoodies. Castro claims Baker charged at him, forcing the off-duty officer to shoot Baker to death. A grand jury is deciding whether to charge Castro with killing Baker.

In August, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven was charged with misconduct in office for gunning down a 68-year-old unarmed man named Ernest Satterwhite. After a slow-speed chase that ended in Satterwhite’s driveway on February 9, Officer Craven ran up to Satterwhite’s car door and shot him to death. The prosecution sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor instead. Satterwhite’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging Craven had disobeyed orders and lied about Satterwhite trying to grab his gun.

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Police Chief Charged with Murdering Unarmed Black Man

Originally published on December 7, 2014, at NationofChange.org

A grand jury in South Carolina charged a former police chief with murder this week for gunning down an unarmed black man in a town hall parking lot. The decision was announced a day after another grand jury declined to indict the NYPD officer responsible for killing Eric Garner with a chokehold. The former police chief has become the third officer in South Carolina indicted for shooting unarmed black men in recent months.

On May 2, 2011, Bernard Bailey arrived at Eutawville’s Town Hall to contest a ticket issued to his daughter for a broken taillight. Six weeks earlier, Police Chief Richard Combs had pulled over Bailey’s daughter who called her father to the scene. After arguing with Bailey and issuing the ticket to his daughter, Chief Combs obtained a warrant against Bailey for obstruction of justice.

When Bailey appeared at the Town Hall weeks later, Combs began arguing with Bailey again and attempted to arrest him. Without threatening or attacking the police chief, Bailey exited the building towards his truck. As Combs followed him into the parking lot, Bailey entered his vehicle and turned the ignition.

Before Bailey could close his door, Combs reached inside the truck attempting to shut off the engine. According to Combs, he became entangled in the truck’s steering wheel while trying to turn off the ignition. As the truck backed out of the parking space, Combs fell to the ground and pulled out his gun shooting Bailey twice in the chest and once in the shoulder.

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Justice Department Investigating NYPD Cop Caught Killing Eric Garner on Video

Originally published on December 5, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department will conduct an investigation into the death of Eric Garner after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the NYPD officer responsible for using a banned chokehold resulting in Garner’s death. Garner is one of at least nine unarmed black people killed by police in recent months. To date, no officers have been charged with the deaths.

Around 4:45pm on July 17, Eric Garner and his friend, Ramsey Orta, were discussing where to eat dinner when a fight erupted nearby. After Garner assisted in breaking up the fight, NYPD Officer Justin Damico approached Garner and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. Orta pulled out his phone and began recording the incident on video.

As Garner argued with Damico, Officer Daniel Pantaleo approached Garner from behind and attempted to grab his wrists. After Garner held his arms up in a nonthreatening manner and told the officers not to touch him, Pantaleo immediately placed Garner in a chokehold even though the maneuver has been banned by the department since 1993.

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NYPD Cop Shoots and Kills Unarmed Man for No Reason

Originally published on November 23, 2014, at NationofChange.org

While routinely patrolling a Brooklyn housing project on Thursday night, an NYPD officer shot and killed an unarmed man who police admit had not been engaging in any criminal activity. The officer involved in the shooting claims he accidentally discharged his weapon, but city officials believe the officer’s inexperience and cowardice caused the innocent man’s death.

After hanging out at his girlfriend’s apartment on the seventh floor of the Louis H. Pink housing project in Brooklyn, Akai Gurley and his girlfriend Melissa Butler attempted to take the elevator downstairs around 11:15pm on Thursday. Tired of waiting for the elevator, Gurley and Butler chose to take the stairs down instead. Butler entered the dimly lit stairwell and began descending the steps as Gurley followed her.

On the floor above them, NYPD officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were conducting a routine vertical patrol of the building. As Officer Liang entered the stairwell from the eighth floor with his flashlight and gun drawn, he fired a single shot striking Gurley in the chest. Gurley managed to stagger down to the fifth floor where he collapsed.

“They didn’t identify themselves,” recalled Butler. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”

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