The death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last June set off a whirlwind of protest nationally and across the globe. Fortunately, the tragic incident was caught on video.
Chauvin actually being indicted and on trial for Floyd’s death for the past three weeks left Black people in the United States feeling extremely anxious and afraid that justice wouldn’t be served, again. Even when there’s distinct video evidence that’s present, justice seems to always miss us when police officers are involved.
To the relief of many, Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts including second-degree murder on April 20, 2021. Sadly, this outcome is a rarity when it comes to police officers, who are too often not held accountable for their filthy and abusive behavior inflicted on Black men, women and children across this country.
Here are just six examples where the “peace officers” were the ones who inflicted harm and death on Black lives and got off with little to no punishment from the justice system—reminders that the fight for Black lives to matter like everyone else in this nation in the eyes of the law, must continue.
Consider this list a reminder of the outrageous miscarriages of justice in recent years that make Chauvin going to prison bittersweet.
Not Guilty, And Filthy: When Police Have Gotten Away With Snuffing Out Black Lives was originally published on hiphopwired.com
1. Michael BrownSource:facebook
Eighteen-year old Michael Brown was confronted by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th, 2014. Wilson was responding to a report that Brown allegedly stole a box of cigars, and he would claim Brown assaulted him, which prompted him to fire at Brown. Twelve times. Six of those bullets struck Brown, killing him. After a grand jury was called to investigate the case, St. Louis County’s prosecutor announced that there would be no indictment of Wilson that November. A subsequent investigation by the Department of Justice found that Wilson didn’t commit any civil rights violations but found the Ferguson police department had serious systemic issues of racial profiling.
2. Tamir RiceSource:Getty
On November 12th, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio, twelve-year old Tamir Rice was shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann. Loehmann responded to a call of someone pointing a pistol at a rec center playground. He fired upon Rice immediately after arriving to the scene, and Rice would die the next day. He was found to have a replica airsoft gun on him. Cuyahoga County sheriff’s presented evidence to prosecutors the following year, but a grand jury declined to indict Loehmann citing the video footage that Rice appeared to be drawing a firearm from his waistband. Loehmann was later found to have been ruled emotionally unstable for duty in a previous position and caught lying about it, which led to his firing in 2017.
3. Eric GarnerSource:Getty
On July 17th, 2014 in Staten Island, New York, Eric Garner was confronted by New York Police Department officers for selling loose cigarettes on the street without tax stamps. After Garner protested the harassment, they moved to arrest him. In the process, Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed his arms around Garner’s neck in an illegal chokehold as he was forced to the ground. Garner yelled out “I can’t breathe” 11 times as officers held him face down on the sidewalk, and they stopped when he lost consciousness. The entire situation was caught on video. Garner would die an hour later at the hospital. In December, the Richmond County grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo despite the medical examiner ruling Garner’s death a homicide. Pantaleo would be fired by the NYPD after a disciplinary review hearing in 201
4. Alton SterlingSource:Getty
Alton Sterling was confronted by two Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officers in front of a convenience store on July 5th, 2016 who were looking for a man who sold CD’s who was allegedly carrying a gun. Despite the store owner claiming Sterling wasn’t who they were looking for, Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake detained Sterling, then tasered him as he protested. Sterling was shot by Salamoni six times at close range, with Salamoni claiming he was reaching for a gun. The Department of Justice opened an investigation into the shooting on July 7th, but in May of the following year they announced they would not bring federal civil rights charges against the officers. Officer Salamoni was fired for violating use of force, and Officer Lake received a three-day suspension.
5. Philando CastileSource:Getty
A day later on July 6th, 2016 in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota, Philando Castile was out driving with
his girlfriend and her four-year old daughter when he was pulled over at a traffic stop by Officer Jeronimo Yanez. After Yanez asked for his license and registration, Castile informed Yanez that he had a firearm (which he was licensed to carry). Yanez told him not to reach for it, and Castile and Reynolds stated that he wasn’t. Yanez then fired seven shots point-blank at Castile, hitting him five times and killing him. Reynolds posted a live stream video of the incident on Facebook shortly after, and the outcry led to Yanez being indicted five months later. However, he was acquitted of all charges after a jury trial in June of the following year. Yanez would be fired by the city after the verdict.
6. Breonna TaylorSource:Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor, an EMT for the University of Louisville in Kentucky, was shot and killed in her bedroom on the night of March 13th, 2020 when Officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove forced their way into her apartment as part of an drug dealing investigation. Taylor’s home was never searched, and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker was arrested for firing a warning shot since he heard no announcement from the police on entry. The officers were never charged for Taylor’s death, but Officer Hankison was indicted for firing wantonly and endangering her neighbors. At last word, members of the grand jury have even called Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s handling of the case into question.