Recent deaths due to police brutality cases, like New York’s Eric Garner who died in a chokehold, have raised lots of anguished questions about where we are as a country on issues of race and police misconduct. It will also be hard to forget about Michael Brown, the teenager who shot dead by a white police officer in August. This tragic incident triggered violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri and touched the hearts of millions around the world who sympathized with Brown’s family.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has a long and terrible history of police brutality, one that that currently has a global spotlight on the state of race relations in the U.S. “The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Noureddine Amir, committee vice chairman for the United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in a Reuter’s piece.
These events illustrate bigger problems in the U.S.: racial bias among police offers, the lack of rules and regulations on the use of force, and inadequate police training. Inevitably, and sadly, the names and stories of these innocent victims tend to blur over time; but we must never forget them. Here are 10 case of police brutality we must always remember.
1. Rodney King
This is one of the most infamous police brutality cases to date. Savagely beaten by five Los Angeles police officers after a car chase, King’s 1991 videotaped beating and subsequent race riots triggered by the acquittal of the officers involved, rocked Los Angeles and the nation. Rodney King died of cardiac arrest in his swimming pool in 2012.
2. Christopher Harris
Christopher Harris, a white man, was walking home in 2009 in Seattle when a sheriff’s deputy slammed him into a wall, leaving him permanently disabled, after mistaking him for an assault suspect. He most likely ran because the officers were dressed in dark commando type outfits.
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3. Oscar Grant III
Unarmed and lying face down on a subway platform in Oakland, California, 22 –year-old Oscar Grant III was shot in the back by a white transit police officer. The incident, captured on video by onlookers would later spark protests. The film Fruitvale Station is based on his story.
4. Kathryn Johnston
This innocent 92-year-old black grandmother was shot down in her home in Atlanta, Georgia in a botched drug raid. After this terrible debacle of police misconduct, the officers tried to save their names by planting marijuana in her house to make it look like she was the criminal.
5. Amadou Diallo
Amadou Diallo was a 23-year-old unarmed immigrant from Guinea, without a police record, was shot and killed by four New York police officers on the stoop of his apartment in February 1999. Sadly, the officers thought he fit the description of a man wanted in a rape case.
6. Walter Harvin
This black Iraq veteran was captured on tape being beaten by a housing cop in the lobby of a building in Manhattan. The combat vet was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had come home from the war just two weeks prior to his assault. Harvin disappeared before the trial.
7. Sean Bell
This is another one of the most famous police brutality cases. Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was shot at his bachelor party (and just a few hours before his wedding to the mother of his two small children) was shot dead by police after there was concern of a fight breaking out outside a strip club in Queens, New York.
8. Patrick Dorismond
Patrick Dorismond, a 26-year-old Haitian security guard, was waiting for a taxi cab in midtown Manhattan when he was killed by police in bungled drugs sting. Dorismond reacted angrily when a plain-clothed officer asked him for crack cocaine and was shot in the struggle.