Notes on police violence in America

By Matt Rigel
29 December 2014

Horrifying police violence against civilians has become a central feature of American society. Popular anger over the legal immunity enjoyed by police, and in particular the failure of prosecutors to indict police murderers for the killings of Michael Brown, 12-year-old Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, has found expression in a growing protest movement nationwide. Despite the ongoing protests, police brutality has continued. 

Police kill man near Texas nightclub Friday morning

Police fatally shot a man near a Texas nightclub Friday, sparking a spontaneous protest against police. Medical staff were prevented by police from dressing the man’s wounds, according to a local news outlet.

Two shootings by police on Christmas eve in DC

At least two civilians died in police shootings in Washington DC this week. The first victim was an alleged suspect of an armed robbery, according to police. Witnesses state that the man began to flee after police approached him in vehicles and on foot, and police opened fire on him for this action. The police claim that he began fleeing, but turned around and fired at the police. The man was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to reports.

A second police shooting incident occurred later in the day, when a police officer fired at an alleged carjacker. Similar to the earlier incident, police claim that the alleged suspect fired at the police officer, to which the officer responded with gunfire.

Police officer punches unarmed and cuffed teenager

A New York police officer was captured on a smartphone video punching a black teenager during an arrest on Saturday, December 20. The video, posted to YouTube, shows the 16-year-old being subdued by 3 police officers. The teenager appears to barely be resisting arrest when a fourth officer rushes the teen from behind, delivering a series of blows to the back of the teen. Witnesses immediately denounced the actions of the officer, claiming that the youth was simply walking down the street with friends, and was wrongly targeted by police following up on a disturbance call. The 16-year old and his teenage friends were detained and eventually released later the same day.

18-year-old fatally shot in Minneapolis

On Wednesday, December 17, police fatally shot 18-year-old Dean Mar after chasing him down a busy highway in Minnesota. After crashing his vehicle, Mar emerged with a knife, which he used to inflict multiple wounds on himself. Mar had been allegedly followed as a suspect of a homicide in Maple Grove, a suburb in the Minneapolis area.

Police shooting in Rochester, New York leaves man hospitalized

On Monday, December 15, a police officer shot 23-year-old Juliano Anthony Plaza at a Rochester apartment complex after he exited the apartment holding a kitchen knife. Police claim that he ignored repeated commands to drop the knife, leading them to shoot him once as he approached, and once as he began backing away from the police officer.

Rochester Police Department chief Michael Ciminelli noted that current regulations allow the police to fire at any suspect holding a knife who is closer than 21 feet away. With respect to Plaza, Ciminelli stated that he “think[s] the facts will show he was closer than 21 feet.”

Man in Lansing, Michigan fatally shot at traffic stop

On Monday, December 8, 27-year-old Randall Minier Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer after being pulled over in Lansing, Michigan. Minier, who was riding with three other people at the time, supposedly displayed a firearm to the police officer, at which point the officer responded immediately with a fatal shot to his head. The driver of the vehicle stated afterwards that Minier was showing the weapon to the officer to alert him that he was carrying a firearm, and did not intend to threaten the officer.

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