(CNN) — Cobb County Lt. Greg Abbott of Georgia will no longer be a police officer after a long career because he told a white motorist during a traffic stop, “you’re not black. Remember? We only kill black people. Yeah. We only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen (inaudible) people get killed?” He is retiring after being slated for firing.
Is what Abbott said in a July 2016 traffic stop — recorded on a dashcam — worse than what Officer Michael Amiott did last month to Richard Hubbard III in Euclid, Ohio?
In the video, Amiott can be seen forcefully pushing Hubbard against his car and repeatedly punching him, in a violent struggle, after a stop for minor violations. According to a police statement, Hubbard “ignored the order to face away” and “began physically resisting,” but nothing on a bystander’s video, or on the dashcam video, shows that’s true.
Hubbard, who was charged with driving on a suspended license and resisting arrest, is shown cooperating with Amiott — and then the officer slams him against the car. After telling Hubbard to face away from him, he gives him no time to comply before applying force. Amiott said in a police report, “I began using closed fist strikes to the face and head of the suspect in order to end his resistance.”
Watch the video to see how this really went.
But Amiott was not immediately fired when the video surfaced, though the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the arrest and consulted with the U.S. attorney’s office in Cleveland, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
It should be noted that Amiott had resigned from a previous job as a police officer after filing a false report, according to a Mentor Police Department internal investigation, and, that his Euclid personnel files show has been cited for violence on the job before, according to the report in the Los Angeles Times. Indeed on Saturday the Euclid mayor added 30 days to his existing suspension while she reviews his prior conduct before deciding whether to allow him to return to patrol.
But what happened to Hubbard pales in comparison to what happened to Charneshia Corley in 2015 in Houston, video of which was recently released by her attorney. He was right to describe it to Houston TV station KRIV as “rape by cop.” Corley says officers pulled down her pants and conducted a cavity search that included her vagina.
Harris County attorneys deny this, saying her pants fell down and that they conducted a visual strip search. Watch the video and judge for yourself.
My money is on Corley’s version of events. Why? Just think about it. In the best-case scenario, police in Houston are arguing they held a pants- and underwear-less woman down on the ground for several minutes and forced her to spread her legs while they visually examined her most intimate parts. That’s how they are defending what they did!
Imagine the outrage if a frat boy told a prosecutor he didn’t do anything wrong by holding down a woman and examining her vagina because her pants happened to fall in front of him. The claims by police in the Corley case are just as absurd.
It can’t be true that sarcastically saying cops only kill black people will get a police officer in Cobb County, Georgia, fired more quickly than actually brutalizing black people.
Those officers took those measures against Corley after — excuse me if this is getting repetitive — a stop caused by minor traffic violations, when they smelled marijuana in Corley’s vehicle.
Corley was initially charged with possession of 0.02 ounces of marijuana and resisting arrest, charges that were dropped. Two of the officers, who were indicted by a Harris County grand jury on charges of official oppression, were cleared of wrongdoing and remained on the force. A federal civil rights trial is scheduled for January.
If you really want to know why black Americans are so angered by the kinds of conversations we’ve been having these past few weeks, including watching President Donald Trump equate those confronting racial bigotry with the bigots themselves, watch these videos.
Don’t look away for the 11 minutes Corley is being dehumanized in a darkened gas station parking lot. Don’t flinch as Amiott repeatedly punches Hubbard. Pull up other videos — of Walter Scott being shot in the back and Eric Garner being choked to death. Remember that Betty Shelby, who was acquitted in the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, could land another job as a cop after killing an unarmed man because she was scared.
Better yet, read the recent report by the Marshall Project, which details why a white person who kills a black man — no matter the circumstances — often faces no legal repercussions, starkly illustrating just how devalued black life has become.
Though many Americans refuse to see the connection between Confederate monuments — which a recent poll finds most white Americans want to leave in place — and 21st-century police brutality, black Americans understand it well.
It is an unbroken string. The monuments were often erected when black progress was becoming most evident, as a way to re-assert white dominance, to remind black people to stay in their place. They were designed as state-sponsored intimidation. Police brutality has long served a similar purpose.
The brutality is awful enough — it is made worse when so many people, so frequently, make excuses for it. They either look away or claim it is only a few bad apples, no matter how many times it happens, no matter the presence of enduring racial disparities.
It’s time to stop looking away.