Charles E. Richardson

Shootings: Recipe for continued mistrust

OK folks, this war stuff has got to come to an end. I can’t stress enough how much the black community needs the law enforcement community — and the justice system. I’m not going to ignore the fact that many of those who commit crimes in black neighborhoods are black themselves, however, I would also remind folks there is a white-on-white crime problem, too.

In either case, there is no reason under the sun, moon and stars to take the life of an innocent officer of the law or an innocent unarmed black, brown or white person. Period. End of story.

Was I surprised there were deranged black people out there who would take the opportunity to live out their psychotic fantasies? Unfortunately, no. Both perpetrators of police ambushes were veterans. War does something to the human mind. Some folks can’t readjust. They are a danger to themselves and to others. And these two are far from the only ones out there who aren’t right in the head. We should all be appalled that we have homeless vets and vets with PTSD who aren’t getting the help they need.

Everyone needs to stop and take a chill pill. You’ve heard it before but may not have been listening. “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t demean anyone else. Like breast cancer research is not a put down to prostate or lung cancer. Those who get it twisted need to check themselves.

There also needs to be recognition that we have some policing problems and never was that more evident than last Monday in North Miami. Yep, another police shooting incident of a black man, caught on video. Fortunately, this time the victim, Charles Kinsey, lived to tell about it. He’s a behavior therapist at a group home and a 24-year-old white patient with autism had walked away from it. Somebody called 911 and said the patient had a gun. It was a toy truck. By the way, all of this was in broad daylight.

When the police arrived, Kinsey was ordered to lay on the ground with his hands outstretched. He told his patient to sit and lay down, too. He didn’t lay down but he did just sit beside him, playing with his truck. Kinsey yelled to police that he was a behavior therapist and the man had autism and all he had was a toy truck.

Kinsey followed the officer’s instructions — and got shot anyway. John Rivera, the president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association said the officer who opened fire thought the patient was about to harm Kinsey.

That’s not going to wash for several reasons. If the officer thought the white guy was going to harm the black guy lying on his back with his arms outstretched, why shoot the black guy? He fired three times. I realize the officer might have been nervous, but come on, shooting the possible victim is nowhere in the procedure manual. If you think the white guy is the perpetrator, why, after the shooting, do you roll the black guy over and handcuff him along with the patient?

Then Rivera says Kinsey, who can be heard telling police who he was and about his patient on video, says the officers couldn’t hear him. Certainly Kinsey could hear the officer’s instructions because he followed them to the letter and certainly they saw him, lying on his back in the middle of the street with his arms outstretched, palms up.

Rivera did say, “Mr. Kinsey did everything right, let’s be real clear about that.” So where was the breakdown? It had to be with the officer.

According to a WSVN-TV report from Kinsey’s hospital room, Kinsey said, “I was more worried about him (his patient) than myself. As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not gonna shoot me, that’s what I’m thinking. Wow, was I wrong.”

Kinsey asked the officer, “Why did you shoot me?” The officer replied, “I don’t know.”

Here’s the problem. Mistakes are made in every profession. This officer shouldn’t be walking the street with a badge and gun. He obviously can’t handle the stressful life of a law enforcement officer. A desk job would be more appropriate. His superiors should recognize that fact and take quick action and don’t fabricate excuses.

When a mistake is not acknowledged we end up where we’re at — black people distrusting law enforcement and vice versa. And we should know by now, that’s a recipe for disaster and only madmen enjoy its taste.

Postscript: The officer who shot Kinsey was suspended with pay Friday. However, a second officer on the scene was suspended without pay. Apparently his retelling of the situation was vastly different from the actual events captured on video. In other words, the officer lied.