The US media has been abuzz lately over the almost weekly incidents of police brutality caught on video by the general public. In New York City, on July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was killed by New York police, including officer Daniel Pantaleo who appeared in a video to be holding Garner in a choke hold.
Although the medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, a grand jury declined an indictment. Pantaleo was not charged.
And what terrible crime did Garner commit? He was charged with selling “loosies,” which are single cigarettes sold without the proper tax. (1) What does a single cigarette sans tax sell for? 20-25 cents?
For want of tax on a two-bit cigarette, Eric Garner, father of six, gave his life. Naahh! That doesn’t sound like police overkill to me. Clearly, it was justifiable homicide. We cannot have common criminals cheating the government out of 5 cents tax, now can we?
In South Carolina cops dispense with the choke holds and shoot unarmed motorists in the back, or at least that is what patrolman Michael Slager allegedly did last April 4, 2015.
Slager, who is white, pulled over African American motorist Walter Scott for a broken tail light, a capital crime if ever there was one. For some reason the confrontation escalated, Scott tried to flee, and Slager emptied eight rounds into Scott’s back.
It’s a good thing that Slager loaded up on hollow points the previous week. An officer needs all the fire power he can muster in these troubled times.
Here’s a pictorial showing the course of events:
The big question here is why did a simple traffic stop escalate into the death of a motorist? Slager said that Scott grabbed Slager’s taser at which point Slager “felt threatened.” Other pundits speculate that Scott was afraid of being arrested for an outstanding warrant for unpaid child support, making him behave in a threatening manner.
Perhaps Officer Slager simply woke up that day and decided to end someone. Slager appeared calm, cool and collected throughout the video, even nonchalant. Maybe he calmly looked Scott in the eye and said something like, “Run, (N-word) cuz I’m gonna kill ya.”
That would make me run. I’m handicapped and cannot run, but hearing those words from a crazed looking cop would make me run anyway.
In 1985 in Tennessee v. Garner, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment permits police to shoot at a fleeing suspect only when he “poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others.” (2) That, of course, or a broken brakelight. It’s a little known codicil to the Court’s decision that Police can shoot you if you have a broken brakelight.
Despite all of the hullabaloo about the violent behavior of U.S. police officers, the USA is no where near the worst in the world when you compare police violence.
Compare U.S. police escapades to that of their South African counterparts and the U.S. cops simply pale by comparison. Mido Macia would undoubtedly confirm that statement, if he were still alive that is.
Emidio Josias Macia, known as Mido, was a Mozambican immigrant to South Africa and a taxi driver who was killed near Johannesburg while in the custody of the South African Police Service (SAPS) on February 26, 2013. (3) The manner in which Mido came to be in police custody and part of the cause of his death were captured on video.
Watch the following video only if you have a strong stomach, cuz it ain’t pretty. NSFW:
The brazenness of the SAPS in this video is remarkable. They had to know that at least one person in the large crowd of onlookers would be filming their brutality, yet they deliberately tortured the man to death anyway.
Just how did the Police justify their behavior? They claimed that Macia had caused a traffic jam and then resisted arrest. (4) Well, that explains it then. Case closed.
Macia was found dead hours after his dragging in a police holding cell, lying half dressed in a pool of blood. (5) Half dressed means he was discovered sans trousers even though the video shows him wearing what appeared to be blue jeans at the time of his “arrest.”
A second autopsy that was ordered after the first autopsy, which was a typical whitewash, blamed Mido’s death on a jailhouse fight. The second autopsy stated that Macia died of hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen, “but he also sustained deep cuts to his arms, possibly in an attempt to defend himself, and there were bruises over his body, his face and his genitals. Almost all of his internal organs were damaged, and he had suffered bleeding around his brain.” (6)
See how creative the SAPS are? They don’t rely on the old tried and true to eliminate their victims. Any number of Macia’s injuries might have eventually killed him, so the SAPS left nothing to chance. Very thorough, those SAPS lads.
Compare that to South Carolina’s Officer Slager, who dispatched Walter Scott with eight rounds to the back. No creativity there.
A British newspaper, The Guardian, reported that during a recent five year period a total of 11,880 criminal cases were opened with the South African Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). This resulted in just 2,576 prosecutions and 129 convictions‚ meaning that only 1% of criminal cases opened against police officials ended in a conviction. (7)
That 1% probability of any penalty would explain the SAPS’ brazenness in the Macia case. Why not do the crime if you know you won’t do the time?
And what has happened in the two + years since Macia’s death? Nine SAPS have been charged, and the trial has been postponed and postponed again. The latest trial date is set for July 2015. What do you want to bet it will be delayed again?
U.S. cops have a long way to go to catch up with the vile violence of their South African counterparts, but don’t sell our boys and girls in blue short. Yankee ingenuity has won out in the past.
Now all of you American cops get busy and start offing the public.
(1) Death of Eric Garner, Wikipedia. Retrieved 6/14/2015.
(2) South Carolina Cop Charged With Murder After Video Shows Him Shooting Motorist in the Back, reason.com. Retrieved 6/14/2015.
(3, 4) Death of Mido Macia, Wikipedia, Retrieved 6/14/2015.
(5, 6) Dead taxi driver who was dragged behind South African police van ‘was facing homicide charge’, The Independent. Retrieved 6/14/2015.
(7) South Africa reports of police brutality more than tripled in the last decade, The Guardian. Retrieved 6/14/2015.