Refusal to charge 'killer cops' paralyzes communities and leads to multiple officer-related shootings
In 2012, Baltimore City's homicide rate witnessed an uptick from 2011 – a year with the lowest recorded homicides in decades – as the total deaths rose from 196 in '11 to 217 in '12. Of those two hundred and seventeen homicides, 13 were officer-related homicides with two other non-fatal police-involved shootings. Of those, not one officer has faced criminal charges by the city's State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein.
In fact, on January 24, 2012, 124-days after the fatal beating death of Anthony Anderson at the hands of three Baltimore City Police Officers; Baltimore's top prosecutor decided not to charge any of the officers in the death of Anderson – which was ruled a homicide by the state's medical examiner. Since that decision there have been three officer-related shootings within a week and six people shot in five separate incidents in 2013 alone – an uptick from the same time last year.
Yet Bernstein wasn't done yet apparently, as yesterday he decided to drop the charges of yet another BCPD officer who shot and killed a reportedly knife-wielding man who had a clear documented history of mental illness – as the officer sat securely in his vehicle.
On April 10, 2012, Officer Fred Murray – a six-year veteran of the force – was dispatched to a scene by a call that was reported to have a 'man with a mental illness wielding a large butcher knife'. Murray reportedly encountered David Yim – who is paralyzed on one side of his body after a stabbing 11-years ago – in the 1200 block of Oakhurst Place in West Baltimore and shot him through the police cruiser's windshield while seated in the vehicle – when he says Yim “tried to engage him through his open window.”
The apparent police-friendly Bernstein ruled yesterday that Murray did not violate the law, as the shooting was a 'permissible use of self-defense'. City prosecutor spokesman Mark Cheshire reportedly defended the decision by saying that “given the officer was in fear for his life, Officer Murray's use of deadly force was justified as an act of self-defense”.
However, Yim's mother gives a different account on the situation, as she says that officers should have been trained in detecting her son's illness, as his walk is slowed and distinctive based on his injuries; and since the call was made regarding a mentally ill person, the officer responding should have the proper training in how to handle mentally and physically disabled people.
“The police department dropped the ball in my son's case, taking him from me when they should have known how to handle the situation,” Janice Thompthin, Yim's mother. “Now they want to cover-up their shortcomings by not even prosecuting the officer who shot my son? How crooked a justice system can you get,” as Iran and Iraq have nothing on the battlefield of Baltimore, where our children are dying everyday at the hands of those sworn to 'protect and serve'.
And Ms. Thompthin is not alone, as parents, friends and family members of the 11 remaining victims of 2012 are still awaiting charges to be brought against the officers who took their sons or daughters, brother or sisters, father or mother's lives; and it doesn't seem this prosecutor – who railed against former prosecutor Patricia Jessamy in 2010 for not prosecuting the tough crimes – has the slightest intention in wanting to see justice for these families?
And given the fact that officer-related shootings soured in the week following the Anderson case earlier this year, it doesn't seem to be getting any better when it comes to persuading these officers to choose another method of apprehension other than shooting and death?
While Shaw wasn't a shooting victim, he was a victim of senseless violence as the 30-year old man was beaten by a group of thugs outside a local convenience store in East Baltimore on Christmas night. Shaw was placed in police protection for his own safety and essentially left on his own to fend for himself as police and the prosecutor's office cut off all communication with the victim of a hate crime.
Shaw, who is gay and believes his attack was brought on because of his sexual preference, spoke to both this Examiner and fellow Examiner Kinji Scott regarding his case, in which he states that the state prosecutor's 'victim advocate', Ms. Robin Haskins, reportedly told him to 'get over it [his injuries]' and that they weren't going to babysit a grown man - though he has been given strict instructions not to return to his East Baltimore home or return to work as a cosmetologist.
“I haven't eaten in days, as they stuck me in this 'safe house' with no food or means for survival, and all they have to say to me is 'get over it',” questioned Shaw, who came out against hate crimes in a rally held in his honor weeks ago with LGBT advocates, city officials and police commanders, including Commissioner Anthony Batts.
“It's like they threw me in this dungeon and forgot about me, treating me like a suspect instead of a severely bruised victim? I have been misinformed and lied to on numerous occasions and have completely lost my faith in the police department, the prosecutor’s office and the city's housing department who promised me a housing voucher and then rebuffed me like they didn't even know who I was!”
Again, no response from the state prosecutor's office in response to Mr. Shaw's allegations after numerous attempts at getting their side of the story? I guess it doesn't matter what they do, so long as nobody says anything they can get away with it?
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