Ferguson + Kajieme Powell

[Content Note: Police brutality; descriptions of violence; racism.]

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Ferguson and made promises to its residents that the Justice Department will do a thorough investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. Between Holder's arrival, and the start of the grand jury investigation, and a big storm, Ferguson was quieter last night. Safer. Despite threats of arrest and pepper spray, people were allowed to protest without harassment.

The officer who was pointing an assault rifle at protesters while shouting, "I will fucking kill you. Get back!" the night before, has been relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely. I suppose "indefinitely" means "until the media presence in the area significantly diminishes." At least he's off the streets for now.

I linked this yesterday afternoon, but in case anyone missed it, I'm linking it again, because it's important reading [CN: descriptions of racist violence]: Jamelle Bouie's "Why the Fires in Ferguson Won't End Soon."

And here is some more recommended reading: @ImKindOfAJeaux's "The Revolution Will Be Live Tweeted."

ETA. "Ferguson Good Samaritan Says Getting Maced Felt Like Being 'In Hell on Fire'." My god. A woman who was handing out water and cookies and juice gets maced by police. Fuck.

* * *

On Tuesday, I wrote about the St. Louis police shooting and killing 25-year-old Kajieme Powell, who had stolen two energy drinks and set them on the pavement and was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk. This happened three miles from the shooting of Michael Brown.

At the time I asked these questions:
Why didn't they tase him? Or pepper spray him? Or at least try any other means of relieving the man of his weapon before shooting to kill?

(Not that people can't and haven't died from tasers and pepper spray. But they are generally less lethal than guns.)

Was there any attempt to establish if this man was incapacitated in some way? Did he actually need medical care? Would it have even mattered if he did?

How long did they talk to him? How long did they spend trying to negotiate with him, while he was still a yard away from them, begging them to shoot him? How long before BOTH OFFICERS just opened fire in the middle of a neighborhood, where other people could have been hurt?
Well, yesterday, video of the shooting was made public (it is viewable here), and we now have answers to some of those questions.

I don't know why they didn't tase him. There was no attempt to establish if Powell was incapacitated in some way.

And as for how long they spent trying to deescalate via negotiation, how long they spent interacting with Powell before killing him: The police arrive on the scene at the 1:23 mark. They start shooting at the 1:40 mark.

Seventeen seconds.

They spent all of seventeen seconds at the scene before they both started shooting at Powell, in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Seventeen seconds before they shot him twelve times, and then rolled over his dead body and handcuffed his corpse.

The video also calls into question the police account of what happened.
The chief said that the officers repeatedly ordered the man to drop the knife and drew their weapons after he did not drop it. The chief said the man told the police: "Shoot me now. Kill me now."

He said the two officers fired after the man moved toward one of them and came within 3 to 4 feet.
Nope. The police drew their weapons as soon as they got out of the vehicle. The man did not come within 3 to 4 feet of officers, and had in fact moved away from them when they began firing. If he is brandishing a knife, it's not even visible in the video, and the police are not ordering him to drop a knife but to take his hand out of his pocket.

Original reports described Powell as coming at police officers brandishing a knife in an overhead grip. That is manifestly not the case.

After Powell has been killed, witnesses begin asking why they didn't tase him. Over and over, people ask why he wasn't tased, why he was killed. The police aggressively push people out of the area, creating an absurdly large crime scene, and speak angrily to the witnesses. No one is asked to stay to give their account of what happened. No names are taken. The police tell them to leave.

Maybe some of that happened afterward. But, suffice it to say, the primary goal is clearly to protect the police, not to immediately begin a transparent process of accountability for shooting a man to death in the street.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus