Eric Harris was pulled to the ground by several police officers. An officer then shot Harris while he was facedown. As the unarmed man lay dying, he wailed in terror “Oh God, he shot me!” and “I’m losing my breath!”
Cops, after yelling “Motherf***er!” at him, replied angrily, shouting “Shut the f*** up!” and “F*** your breath!” Another officer violently pushed his knee into Harris’ face as life quickly left his body.
Video was captured of the incident.
After Harris was killed, Sheriff’s Capt. Billy McKelvey claimed the shooting was “an inadvertent mistake.”
Many Americans are not buying this explanation, pointing out that, if police murdering unarmed Black Americans was truly “an inadvertent mistake,” it would not happen almost every single day. In the 102 days from January 1 to April 12, 2015, US police killed at least 325 people – at a rate of more than three people per day. These victims are disproportionately people of color.
In the wake of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing – just one in a wave of police shootings of unarmed Black Americans – Police Sgt. Jim Clark claimed that the cop who killed Harris is not only completely innocent, but is in fact himself the victim.
“Reserve Deputy Bates did not commit a crime. Reserve Deputy Bates was a victim, a true victim of slip and capture,” Clark said. “There’s no other determination I could come to.”
By declaring the police officer who killed an unarmed Black man the “true victim,” US police are only further verifying what civil rights leader Malcolm X warned about more than 50 years ago, in the early 1960s:
The police … put their club upside your head and then turn around and accuse you of attacking them. Every case of police brutality against a Negro follows the same pattern. They attack you, bust you all upside your mouth and then take you to court and charge you with assault. What kind of democracy is that? What kind of freedom is that? What kind of social or political system is it when a black man has no voice in court? Has nothing on his side other than what the white man chooses to give you?
My brothers and sisters we have to put a stop to this and it will never be stopped until we stop it ourselves.
They attack the victim and then the criminal who attacked the victim accuses the victim of attacking him. This is American justice. This is American democracy, and those of you who are familiar with it know that, in America, democracy is hypocrisy.
We need your help to propel Truthout into the new year
As we look toward the new year, we’re well aware of the obstacles that lie in the path to justice. But here at Truthout, we are encouraged and emboldened by the courage of people worldwide working to move us all forward — people like you.
If you haven’t yet made your end-of-year donation to support our work, this is the perfect moment to do so: Our year-end fundraising drive is happening now, and we must raise $150,000 by the end of December.
Will you stand up for truly independent, honest journalism by making a contribution in the amount that’s right for you? It only takes a few seconds to donate by card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or Venmo — we even accept donations of cryptocurrency and stock! Just click the red button below.