Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Not to Be Funny

I know I'm the authoritarian overlord of destroying all humor or whatever but I think even a normal humor-appreciator would be able to tell you that this isn't fucking funny:

Officer to woman during traffic stop: 'We only kill black people, right?'

Yeah. Officer caught on tape, trying to get a female passenger of a pulled over car to do something with her phone (why?), and she's saying she doesn't want to put her hands down because she's seen too many videos of cops shooting people in similar situations. And she prefaces this by saying "I'm really sorry." It sounds like the woman, though I guess not black, was a woman of color. She was clearly terrified, not "non-compliant" as the police department describes her. The officer's response is less than comforting.

"But 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 the black people get killed?"

That's a fuller transcript of what the officer said, seen here:

And here's the officer's defense:
His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context. He was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger. In context, his comments were clearly aimed at attempting to gain compliance by using the passenger's own statements and reasoning to avoid making an arrest.
Yeah, I've seen plenty of context. She wasn't "uncooperative," she was terrified, and with good reason. Like, maybe there's a chance she was just trying to make a point, but not only do I highly doubt it, the cop should just go ahead and assume she's actually afraid. You know what you could do? Back the fuck up. Take out your gun and put it on the ground. Or just leave her the fuck alone, why do you need her to do anything with her phone? But do not make some snide, bitter remark saying you "only kill black people."

That's not reasoning. If the officer really thought that was going to gain her compliance, then he's a shit cop. But I don't buy that for a second. What I see here, clearly, is an officer who is offended by this woman saying she's afraid she's going to be killed if she puts her hands down and goes instantly into petty, bitter defensive mode. And knowing his whiteness and his being a cop would protect him from any real consequences, he doesn't care that he's being recorded. After all, the cops that actually do shoot people of color for any excuse they can possibly come up with almost always get off scot-free, so why not him?

I feel so bad for that woman. My heart rate jumped just listening to him say "but we only kill black people." That to me says this is a man who is utterly cavalier about the ending of lives, is more concerned about his hurt feelings than her safety, and is getting upset in the moment which is fucking terrifying. And that's the real horror. There's nothing this woman could have done to actually make herself safe, because officers will shoot at anything that could possibly be perceived as a threat, such as her reaching for something on her lap, and they will become violent and possibly shoot when they feel like they're being defied, when they're offended, angry, frustrated, whatever. She's lucky to be alive but also never should have been put in that impossible and likely traumatizing situation to begin with. I hope she's okay.

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