NNPA Special Report: Police Shootings of African Americans

White Ex-Officer is Working to Change the Culture

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent | 10/20/2019, 12:11 p.m.
A police officer’s bullet shattered a window and fatally struck Atatiana Jefferson as she and her 8-year-old nephew played video ...
Dallas police shot and killed a mentally ill man who was holding a screwdriver and the incident was caught on video via a police body cam. Police arrived at the victim, Jason Harrison’s, home after his mother, Shirley Marshall Harrison, called to request assistance getting her son to the hospital. Harrison's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dallas Police Department officers John Rogers and Andrew Hutchins. YouTube

A police officer’s bullet shattered a window and fatally struck Atatiana Jefferson as she and her 8-year-old nephew played video games inside her Texas home.

Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean, who never identified himself as a cop, and, without warning, fired into Atatiana’s window from outside the home, fatally striking the 28-year-old.

Just a week earlier, Ex-Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger received a 10-year prison sentence for unlawfully entering the home of 28-year-old Botham Jean and murdering him.

Guyger claimed she had worked a late shift, was tired, and entered an apartment she thought was her own. She said she mistook the successful accountant as an intruder.

Both Atatiana and Botham were Black. Dean and Guyger are White.

A study conducted earlier this year by researchers at three universities concluded that African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than White people.

Researchers found that police will kill roughly 1-in-1,000 Black boys and men during their lifetime. For White boys and men, the rate is 39 out of 100,000.

In the aftermath of the killing of Atatiana, an attorney and former detective spoke with NNPA Newswire about police shootings. Because of the sensitive nature of his current assignment, we will refer to the former officer as Detective Jones.

Jones is working with several police departments to find better training solutions, primarily for situations when officers are interacting with individuals of color.

DETECTIVE JONES:

Among my friends who are police officers, I’m considered one of the more – let’s say liberal, as it were.

I’m hoping we can bridge build and repair relations between my brothers and sisters of varying backgrounds. So, that’s where I’m coming from.

From the police side of things, I’ve seen racist cops.

Unfortunately, a lot of that is because of what the job can do to people.

But I think that the key to the current problems, aside from the racial issue, is what the police chief in Fort Worth said. He used the best possible words when he said we need to hire people with a servant’s heart, not people with a warrior’s heart.

A Soldier’s Mentality

When I went to the police academy, which was some time ago, a lot of people were coming back from Iraq, and they were looking for jobs.

These people were trained killers because they’re soldiers. And, now you’re putting them not just [on the street] and giving them tactical solider-looking gear. And, they feel like they’re back on patrol in frickin’ Ramallah or Bagdad.

You know, when the soldiers are sent off to war, one of the ways that the government makes soldiers more effective is by dehumanizing them — calling them names like bugs.

It’s a good word to make to dehumanize them, and then they come home.

And, it’s not hard for them to jump into things by taking back that concept and using it with minorities. Whatever the minority may be in that community.

The minority could be White people. I know it’s not usually that, but it could be anybody.