Notes on police violence: Los Angeles police fatally shoot man 33 times

By Gabriel Black
14 December 2015

A video published on YouTube shows Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shooting at a man 33 times Saturday outside of an ARCO gas station, first in the back and then later over fifteen times as he attempted to crawl away on the sidewalk.

Police claim 28-year-old Nicholas Robertson had a pistol and was “behaving erratically with gun in hand” before he was shot to death by the deputies Saturday in Lynwood, California, a poor working class neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Robertson can be seen walking away from police as he is shot in the back. The video shows that Robertson never turned back to face police as he tried to crawl away. At no point in the video before or during the barrage of police bullets does Robertson turn to threaten or aim a weapon at the officers.

Juan Roberto, 18, an employee at a restaurant across the street who witnessed the killing, told the Los Angeles Times that Robertson was “holding a silver semiautomatic handgun on his left hand.” Roberto added, “The gun looked as if it was empty” because the slide of the gun was locked back.

Roberto further commented that Robertson “sounded angry about something.” He continued, “I don’t understand English that much but I know that he wasn’t making sense.”

Robertson reportedly fired a gun six times into the air before he was killed. However, his wife, Nekesha Robertson, disputes that he had a gun. No relatives knew of him possessing a firearm.

Robertson, a father of 3 young children, may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. His wife stated at a press conference that her husband behaved like “a child who needs love” when drunk.

Ms. Robertson continued, “Anytime you see him, you see him with the kids. He’d take them to and from school. Help them with homework. He’s a daddy that his job. He didn’t do anything else.”

Broward County, Florida sheriff’s deputy indicted for manslaughter

In Florida, Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza was indicted last week for manslaughter for killing Jermaine McBean, a black man who was carrying an air rifle home from a pawnshop in July 2013. Peraza has been suspended and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Peraza’s indictment marks the first time in 35 years that a police officer in Broward County will face trial for a fatal shooting. Since 1980 there have been 168 police killings in the county, which includes the city of Fort Lauderdale.

McBean was walking home, wearing ear buds, with an air rifle wrapped in a garbage bag, when the police tried to yell at him to stop. McBean, who is thought to have been listening to music at a high volume, did not put down the air rifle. At some point, perhaps due to the loud shouts of the police, McBean turned around, and he was immediately shot on the spot. Police claim that when McBean turned around they felt threatened.

Police claimed that McBean was not wearing headphones. Not just one police officer, but every police officer who showed up on the scene confirmed this. However, a photo released of McBean, dead on the ground, damningly contradicts this, distinctly showing a white earbud in his left ear, while his right side is obscured from view.

The photograph was taken by an anonymous nurse, who witnessed the shooting and pleaded with police to give first aid to the dying man. They were not administering any first aid. She pointed to the fact that he was wearing earbuds to suggest that he was innocent and should be treated.

Jennifer Young, the mother of McBean, told NBC, “I was highly upset.” “I said, ‘They lied to me. What else have they lied about?”

New York State

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that it had obtained security video of a schizophrenic man being beaten to death in 2010 and dragged around by multiple officers while a nurse stood by doing nothing to aid him.

Leonard Strickland was a prisoner of the Clinton Correctional Facility, the site of a 2015 escape by Richard Matt and David Sweat. Matt was later shot dead and Sweat captured. New York State penitentiaries are notorious for beating and torturing inmates, with next to no accountability.

Guards have claimed that Strickland was uncontrollable and violent. The New York Times, which has not released the video, claims that it shows the guards saying “stop resisting” while the officers, in the words of Kevin Goode, an inmate, “beat this kid to zero.” The lawyer for Strickland’s family says that officers are saying comments such as “Stop resisting” in order to justify their actions.

A quality care report of the incident found that “Strickland did not resist the officers, nor was he out of control.” The Times reports that as the video begins “He is cuffed from behind and pressed against a cinder block wall by two officers…” The Times reports that “only the guards are keeping him from falling over.” After slumping on the floor, the guards continue yelling at him “Stop resisting,” “Don’t push back,” and “He’s still fighting.”

Strickland lay on the ground for minutes with no medical attention. Eventually the officers and nurses perform CPR, but leave him handcuffed. In addition to the beating captured on video, multiple inmates reported Strickland getting thrown down the stairs in handcuffs. Strickland was dead before his body was taken away in an ambulance.

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