When it comes to police officers who kill black people, the system has a perverted sense of justice.
The offending officers are acquitted, even when we all see the videotape of the execution and then are asked whether we believe our lying eyes. Then, as if to twist the knife in our back, the cops are rewarded, receiving back pay, or more — a cruel reward for killing a black body.
Sure, some have ‘lost’ their jobs — but what a slap in the face to the families that these officers even have the opportunity and freedom to ‘lose’ a job in the first place.
In St. Anthony, Minnesota, Officer Jeronimo Yanez, the man who was acquitted last month in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, has left the department under a separation agreement, with $48,500 in the bank.
Perhaps killing a dog would have cost Yanez some prison time. But when it comes to killing a man over a tail light, with his fiancé and baby girl in the back seat, not so much.
It doesn’t stop there, for there are more cases that point to a disturbing trend.
In May, Officer Betty Shelby — the white Tulsa officer acquitted for manslaughter in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher — found out she would receive more than $35,000 in back pay since being on leave last September. Shelby was then placed on desk duty. Weeks after the acquittal, a pro-law enforcement group held a meet-and-greet to show their support for Shelby, while the Crutcher estate filed a civil suit against her.
Darren Wilson, the officer who was killed Michael Brown in Ferguson but was not charged, had to leave the force and now complains he is unemployable. His old department says he is too much of a risk, and prospective departments conclude he is too great of a liability. That’s a small price to pay for avoiding prison time, however.
Randall Kerrick in Charlotte had a hung jury in his trial for the 2013 killing of Jonathan Ferrell. No longer a police officer, Kerrick received a nearly $180,000 settlement that included nearly $113,000 in back pay and another $16,000 going to his Social Security and retirement. That is not a bad deal for getting away with murder.
Meanwhile, none of the six officers indicted for the death of Freddie Gray went to jail. Five of them did, however, sue Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney, for malicious prosecution. And four officers received over $381,000 in back pay.
Because Blue Lives Matter.
All of this makes one wonder what exactly the hell is going on. Police officers continue to kill black people and claim they feared for their lives, then win a big cash settlement as if they were somehow harmed. A precious few cops are made to pay the price, and few families of the victims find justice. Yet, these cops seem to come out ahead.
A culture of corruption and brutality thrives in some police departments. Although there are officers who never should have been given a badge and a gun, the system protects them. When there are no proactive measures to rid the department of bad cops with a long history of brutality, misconduct and racism, these officers have the green light to continue their abuse, and whistleblowers are punished and ostracized.
It is no wonder that African-American communities have lost faith in law enforcement. After all, they live honest and decent lives, and are told that those who commit crimes must expect to pay a price. As taxpayers, the community wants and expects the police to protect and serve rather than carry on like the slave patrols who monitored the plantation.
Yet, they see those who are charged with upholding the law breaking the law and killing with reckless abandon. How do you build trust between the police and the community when there is no justice, when an officer kills a black man on video, gets off, and receives back pay, or at worst a separation agreement with no more job, yet no prison?
Follow David A. Love on Twitter @davidalove.