The Texas Legislature convened on January 12, 2021.
In a January 19, 2021 post, we pointed out that Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) had authored House Bill 88, known as the George Floyd Act. The Texas GFA Act would severely curtail the doctrine of qualified immunity for police misconduct and would create many other police misconduct safeguards.
The George Floyd Act is stalled in committee, but the Texas House has passed three spin-off bills that, if enacted, would reform disciplinary measures against officers who engage in misconduct. These bills are:
· House Bill 829: would require law enforcement agencies to establish a fixed schedule of disciplinary actions for officer misconduct based on the current misconduct and the officer’s prior record of misconduct—actions that could range from written warnings to employment termination;
· House Bill 830: curtail an officer’s authority to arrest individuals for traffic violations that would result only in a fine;
· House Bill 834: would require corroboration of undercover officer’s testimony in drug cases.
These bills are a start, but they don’t fully grasp the actual law enforcement crisis facing this nation—a crisis involving a brutal police mindset that believes it can kill unarmed black and brown civilians with impunity.
Video of Ronald Greene Killing Shocks Conscience
Make no mistake about this: Three white Louisiana State Police officers murdered 49-year-old Black American named Ronald Greene on the afternoon of May 10, 2019. This was not a “police justifiable homicide” or a “self-defense killing” necessary to protect the lives of the officers or bystanders. Horrific body cam video and the words from at least one officer clearly demonstrate that Ronald Greene’s death was a police murder.
The background facts of this murder are as follows: at approximately 4:30 p.m. on May 10, 2019, State Police officers attempted to stop Greene for an unspecified traffic violation on DeSiard Street in Monroe, Louisiana. Greene sped away. A high-speed chase ensued into an adjacent parish roughly 20 miles from Monroe. The pursuit came to an abrupt end following Greene’s crash into a tree along a highway in Union Parish.
The body cam videos of the three troopers involved in the chase—Troopers Chris Hollingsworth, Dakota DeMoss, and Kory York—reveal that they forcefully dragged Greene from his vehicle, handcuffed him behind his back, placed leg irons on his feet. They then pepper-sprayed him, put him in a chokehold, pressed knees into his back, punched and kicked him in the head, repeatedly tased him, and finally dragged him face down across the pavement at the murder scene.
A suppressed autopsy report would later reveal that Greene had serious head injuries, a broken breastbone, a lacerated aorta, and cuts on his liver.
I am sorry, I can’t Breathe
All the while, Greene could be heard, pleading: “Ok! Oh, Lord Jesus, Oh, Lord! “OK, OK, Lord Jesus Jesus! OK. I’m sorry, I’m sorry … I can’t breathe.”
In response the troopers could be heard calling Greene a “stupid motherfucker.”
Trooper Hollingsworth words were recorded: “I beat the ever-living fuck out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control. All of a sudden, he just went limp … I thought he was dead.”
Cops Lie About Cause of Injuries
The officers took Greene to a nearby medical facility where they lied to medical personnel, saying Greene had been injured in the crash. They lied in the police reports about the incident, and they lied to Greene’s family by telling them he died from injuries sustained in the car crash.
All the recently released videos and voice recordings have been viewed with horror and shock around the world. Again, another unjustified, racist killing of an unarmed, restrained black man by police. Viewers and commentators cry at Ronald Greene’s suffering and curse the troopers’ brutality.
And that is why the Texas George Floyd Act should be enacted.
Not Isolated Event by One Bad Apple
A May 15, 2021 Washington Post report discloses an investigation into two San Diego police officers who repeatedly punched a Black American man during an arrest. It seems the two officers, who caught the homeless man about to urinate in public (an act not completed), were angered because the man would not talk to them. An altercation ensued – one recorded by a nearby bystander – during which the police used excessive force to subdue the man scuffling with them. Additional police showed up at the scene. Suddenly, eight police officers and four cop cars were trying to execute the arrest of one homeless Black American man who was beaten unmercifully.
And there was yet another report in the same Washington Post newspaper about Charleston County, South Carolina sheriff deputies repeatedly using a Taser and pepper spray on a mentally ill Black American in the local jail facility. The Taser was deployed so many times that it killed the mentally ill man. The deputies had arrested the man at an area psychiatric facility and took him to the jail facility, where they attempted to subdue him forcefully. Bodycam video captured the man saying he couldn’t breathe, just like George Floyd, while under deadly assault by the police before he succumbed to their lethal force.
And then there was the May 12, 2021 report in the Washington Post about 112 children fatally shot by the police across the nation between January 2015 and May 2021.—the youngest being six years of age. Five of the children were killed by Columbus, Ohio police. The same city that recently agreed to pay $10 million to the family of 47-year-old Andre Hill, a Columbus police officer fatally shot on December 22, 2020, after the officer mistook a cell phone for a gun during an encounter in Hill’s home garage.
1400 Mentally Ill Shot by Police
On May 16, 2021, Yahoo News reported about the Washington Post police shooting database, which shows that since 2015 police across the nation have fatally shot more than 1400 people with mental illness.
The homeless, the mentally ill, people of color, and children in the wrong place have been indiscriminately killed and outright murdered by police of every stripe across the county. The nation’s law enforcement agencies have become so militarized over the last two decades that they can no longer serve their original purpose—to protect and serve the community. They see black and brown people and those living in impoverished communities as “enemies” in a war zone that must be “taken out” before they even threaten or offer any dangerous resistance to the police.
These police killings and murders are why the Texas George Floyd Act must be enacted. They are why the doctrine of qualified immunity must be abolished, and police held accountable for intentional violations of human and civil rights. Police must be reminded that they are employed to “protect and serve,” not occupy, profile and oppress.