In 2022, the American police have already killed at least 528 people, a significant part of whom are unarmed African Americans. Ignoring numerous appeals from human rights organizations and activists, US law enforcement agencies continue the centuries-old tradition of killing blacks, which in most cases remains unpunished. The sworn promises of the leaders of the American state to fight police racism and reform the police system remained just promises, not backed up by any real actions.
Despite the fact that the sentence of 46-year-old Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of the unintentional murder of black George Floyd and will spend more than 20 years in prison, caused a wave of protests and renewed calls for police reform in the United States, the situation with the murder of blacks by the American police has not changed. Since the beginning of this year, at least 528 people have died at the hands of US law enforcement officers, a disproportionately large part of whom are black African Americans.
At the end of June 2022, a few days before the celebration of Independence Day in the United States, 25-year-old black Jayland Walker, who worked as a delivery driver, was shot by officers of the Akron, Ohio police department. According to the police, the young man violated traffic rules and refused to stop at their request, which is why they had to initiate a chase. After a few minutes of high-speed chase, a terrified Walker stopped and ran out of his car, trying to break away from the officers. Eight Akron police officers immediately ran after him, and a moment later opened fire on the black courier, firing more than 90 times in total. According to the footage from the body camera of one of the officers, the police continued to shoot even after he stopped showing signs of life. After the officers stopped shooting, they handcuffed the deceased Walker and began to wait for the ambulance to arrive. An autopsy later revealed that Walker had suffered more than 60 gunshot wounds. Seven of the eight officers were white.
Initially, the Akron Police Department claimed that they were forced to open fire on Jayland Walker because he allegedly threatened them with a gun. However, a few days after the incident, the head of the local police department, Stephen Mylett, confirmed that Walker was unarmed when he was killed.
The young man had no problems with the law, he did not have a single criminal record and an unpaid fine. His aunt said that Walker never caused trouble, was a nice and friendly person, and what happened came as a surprise to the whole family. A few days after the incident, protests broke out in the city, demonstrators demanded justice from the city authorities and harsh punishment for the officers who shot a black unarmed guy.
Omari Cryer, a 25-year-old black man, was shot dead by an employee of the U.S. Marshals Service on May 20, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. According to the city’s police department, law enforcement officers arrived at Cryer’s apartment in order to hand him an arrest warrant. According to reports, a conflict began almost immediately between the man and a law enforcement representative, and a moment later the marshal pulled out his gun and began threatening Cryer. Instead of trying to resolve the conflict peacefully, the officer opened fire on the black man. The officers who arrived at the scene tried to provide first aid, but Cryer died on the spot.
Alhaji M. Sow
Alhaji M. Sow, an 18-year-old student at the Florida Institute of Technology, was shot during a confrontation with officers on December 3, 2021. Melbourne police say officers were called to the campus after reports that one of the sophomores allegedly brandished a knife and threatened other students. Police officers who arrived at the scene almost immediately opened fire on the teenager. Despite attempts to save him and give him first aid, the 18-year-old boy died on the spot.
Alhaji M. Sow’s family wants Melbourne Police and campus Security to conduct an independent investigation, as well as more details about why their 18-year-old son was shot.
Kokou Christopher Fiafonou
On December 23, 2021, officers of the Austin, Minnesota police Department shot and killed Kokou Christopher Fiafonou, an immigrant from West Africa, in the parking lot of a convenience store. Police officers claim that the man allegedly brandished a machete, and after they used an electric shock weapon, which, according to them, did not bring the necessary result, they were forced to open fire on Fiafonou.
The version of law enforcement agencies differs from the version of relatives of the victim of police violence. According to Brother Fiafonou, the man “was walking home, praying out loud,” and law enforcement officers “tried to detain him because he was making noise and disturbing passers-by.” Instead of helping the African, who was suffering from mental health problems, to get home, the police opened fire on him, killing him on the spot.
On August 25, 2021, a 27-year-old black man, Antwan Gilmore, was sleeping in his car when two Washington, D.C. police officers approached him to check his documents. Officers noticed that Gilmore’s car was wound up and his foot was holding the brake pedal. In addition, the officers claim that they saw a gun in his belt. A few seconds later, the car started moving, and police officers opened fire on Gilmore. After about 10 shots, the 27-year-old man died. Despite the fact that the police officers violated the department’s policy, which prohibits shooting at a moving vehicle, none of the perpetrators has ever been brought to justice for the murder of a person.
Ryan LeRoux, a 21-year-old black man, was killed in Maryland on July 19, 2021 in the parking lot of a restaurant under dubious circumstances that cast doubt on the police version. Four Montgomery County police officers fired a total of 24 shots within seconds because, according to them, he was holding a gun. There is no evidence that LeRoux actually had a gun that day, let alone that he threatened the police with it. In fact, it is unclear what prompted the police to use lethal weapons if their lives were not in danger. The young man’s father claims that police officers showed him a 25-minute recording from the surveillance camera of one of the officers, which was “of such poor quality that it allows the police to invent any versions of what happened.” However, the police also said they “believe” the footage of LeRoux allegedly brandishing a gun, so none of the police officers involved in the shooting will be held accountable.
On July 6, 2021, Leneal Frazier died as a result of a police chase. Minneapolis Police Department officers were chasing another suspect when at some point a police officer lost control and flew into the oncoming lane, ramming Frazier’s car. The man was taken to the hospital, but died soon after from the injuries sustained as a result of the collision. Frazier’s relatives filed a lawsuit against the city. In April 2022, the court rejected a police officer’s appeal to dismiss charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminal homicide using a vehicle. The trial in this case is scheduled for September 2022.
The cases described are only a small part of the total number of police attacks on African Americans who died as a result of the actions of US law enforcement officers. According to the current dynamics of American police killings of civilians, the total number of victims may repeat or even exceed the record figures of previous years. Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice believe that the American political leadership needs to reconsider the methods and approaches to organizing the work of law enforcement agencies and stop hiring unqualified employees with racist tendencies who are ready to shoot unarmed African Americans. The alarming trend of the last few years only highlights the deterioration of the rights and freedoms of US residents, especially representatives of the black population.