For more than a year the national news has been dominated by images of Black men killed by White police officers. Like television soap operas the script is pretty standard, just the characters change.
The opening scene begins with a death under suspicious circumstances.
Then the sides are chosen. There are those who immediately take the side of the police officer, or officers accused of murder, defending the shooting or death as justified.
Then there are those who take the side of the victim. They invoke a legacy of police racism and brutality and even denounce the “internal review or investigation” before it begins.
Soon after, national Black leaders show up and hold a rally to set the stage for the shakedown. Of course once payment is secured they move on to the next tragedy. The blue wall circles to protect the brotherhood – damn the consequences for defending bad cops. Politicians – the seasoned ones – put on their gloves before testing the wind. The less experienced lose a finger in it.
Eventually the issue fades and the truest impact – the massive payouts – get lost in the resolved litigations. Plus talking about the outcome isn’t nearly as sexy to the media as police in riot gear facing crowds of angry Black people flashing signs until the return of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots” on OWN (January 5, 2016).
So let’s look at the cost of some recent payouts in wrongful deaths:
- Latanya Haggerty: Chicago, IL — $18 Million
- Walter Scott: North Charleston, S.C. — $6.5 Million
- Freddie Gray: Baltimore, MD — $6.4 Million
- Eric Garner: New York, N.Y. — $5.9 Million
- Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino: Gardena, CA — $2.8 million
- Jonathan Ferrell: Charlotte, N.C. — $2.25 Million
- Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez: Gardena, CA — $1.7 million
- Jorge Azucena: Los Angeles, CA — $1.35 Million
Yet to be settled are two cases that will likely end up in massive million dollar payoffs to the families: the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the shooting of 12 year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
Oct. 12, 2015, Commentary by Jonathan R. Narcisse