*We can always count on LAPD to find new ways to abuse black people. If there’s some kind of abusive first with lethal force and LAPD, trust me, a black person’s involved. While this one probably’s not a first for the department (shooting a naked man), it’s a first for the “new” “post reform” LAPD.
Last weekend, two officers encountered a relatively young black man in the middle of the night. The long story short is the young ma ends up dead. Shot by the police. Apparently no witnesses, and just the cops word.
There is nothing more peculiar than the aftermath of an LAPD shooting. Some of the most creative storytelling ever takes place after a LAPD questionable use of lethal force. Every time I want to think that LAPD has changed, something like this comes up. Never a fan of the police, I acknowledge that they have a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. I even tolerate their sometimes unnecessarily intolerant attitudes. Yes, their job stress will make you a little snippy (to use Al Gore’s term). And LAPD has changed. It’s not my daddy’s LAPD or even the LAPD of my young adulthood.
That being said, they’re not as abusive as they once were, but some of em are still snippy as hell and LAPD still got a few cowboys and Rambo wannabes on the force who still “profile” the community and those who look like they should be in or from the “community.” We can always expect snippy from them. But snippy many times leads to extreme intolerance when it comes to our community. Or is it always convenient target practice? Hey, don’t email me. I’m just asking the questions the community is already askin’. It doesn’t make sense that that two trained law enforcement officers would not be able to subdue an unarmed, naked man? Why does this always happen to us? You can email me on that one. I’m real curious to know how this happened. I know LAPD will come up with something (they always do). I just wanna know what he had in his hand this time to justify lethal force.
We’ve heard every conceivable story LAPD can come up with (and any other police department around the country). Black men have been killed for having wallets in their hands, cell phones in their hands, flashlights in their hands, coke bottles in their hands, and yes…every now and then, someone has a gun in their hands. And when one draws a gun on law enforcement, the consequences are what they are. But this, “we thought he had a gun” business is getting tired.
This “I feared for my life” excuse is now in the police union playbook as the first line of defense for “bad shoots.” How simple do they think the public is? Public disturbance, or public intoxication, even public nudity, is a crime-a misdemeanor crime. Not a death sentence. Even resisting arrest used to bring on an old fashioned “@* * whuppin, bringin’ one close to death (i.e. Rodney King) but not this type of unwarranted shooting. I was at an elected official’s birthday party over the weekend, and the buzz was the senselessness of this shooting. I stumbled up on a conversation between several women who was commenting on the irrationality of the killing. Now these are women talking. One said he must have had the biggest penis in the world for them to mistake as a gun. I told them not to feed the myth. But the point wasn’t lost on a celebrity defense attorney (who we all know-think O.J.) who said, “you’d be surprised what they’d come up with.” No I wouldn’t, but I get it. LAPD would be real hard pressed to rationalize shooting a naked man with just his big d**k in his hand, so you knew they would come up with something else. And they did.
This time, two of them couldn’t subdue an unarmed naked man who weighed 190 pounds. So he wasn’t the “monster” they usually make of the suspect they have to (choose to) shoot. No claims of PCP intoxication that used to be the “standard line” in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. LAPD shot plenty of folk during the PCP era as “Supermen” all shermed up made trying to subdue drugged out suspects were a futile efforts (according to LAPD). This wasn’t the case here. They want to say this suspect was a former high school and college football player but these days, a 190 pounder be hard pressed to play football on anybody’s college football team. This suspect was (is) considered an averaged size man. They want to say Reginald Doucet, Jr. was uncooperative and turned violent, but aren’t police officers equipped with batons, mace, pepper spray, tasers and all types of non-lethal equipment to subdue uncooperative suspects in the reformed LAPD? Isn’t it department policy that legal force is a tactic of last resort? Not a tactic of first resort. Did they even attempt to subdue Douchet before choosing to shoot him. Hopefully, these facts will come out of an investigation. Instead, the initial report is that a naked man took on two LAPD police officers in a street fight, hit one in the face ad tried to take his gun. So they shot and killed. No comments on whether non-lethal tactics were used preceding the shooting. It’s possible he tried to grab an officer’s, but not probable given that it’s two on one and you’d have one officer always covering the other. One on one is one thing. Two on one is suicide. It makes no sense to anybody but, of course, LAPD. Every new police chief in the post-Gates era has had their new tests within their first years in the chief’s seat. This is new LAPD chief, Charlie Beck’s. Every one of them has had to convince us that this is not the same ole LAPD. It’s been a tough sell for each one.
The black community, and its sleeping civil rights groups, must call for an investigation on this one. I can’t wait to see what they come up with this time.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.