NC Cops Have Killed a Lot of People This Month
Wed., Jan. 19: Were all of them necessary? Let's review.
» NC Cops Have Killed 5 People This Year, and Counting
Today, the Raleigh Police Department will issue its 5-day report on the death of Daniel Turcios, who was fatally shot on the side of I-440 after cops say he wielded a knife at them. If the past is prologue, the 5-day will suggest the officers who killed him in front of his family had no other choice.
So yesterday, on behalf of Turcios’ family, Dawn Blagrove and Kerwin Pittman of Emancipate NC hosted a press conference to try to pre-spin the cops, if you will. You can watch the presser below (apologies for my video skills):
Their key claim was that Turcios was shot multiple times after he was already incapacitated on the floor. They based this on a process of deduction that they said was backed by witnesses: Video showed the first shot and Turcios on the ground. But the family was told that Turcios had been shot multiple times.
They also beat back the claim—made by new RPD chief Estrella Patterson—that Turcios appeared intoxicated, pointing out that he’d been in a serious accident, likely had a concussion that rendered him unconscious, and was probably disoriented. And Blagrove said Turcios had a small pocketknife that didn’t pose a serious threat.
Rosa Jerez, Turcios’ wife, pointed out that she was there, but the police never asked her to try to calm her husband down.
I told them to leave him alone because he wasn’t doing anything; they didn’t listen to me! And he didn’t understand anything they told him. My children screamed at them not to kill him. They murdered him as if he was a dog. They didn’t care about him at all.
Blagrove asked the media not to fixate on the knife, which—bet your ass—will feature prominently in the 5-day report, or take the cops’ account as gospel, which happens far too often. The knife isn’t important, she said. What’s important is why a bunch of cops felt compelled to kill a disoriented man who’d been in a bad car wreck. She also asked whether any of the officers at the scene were trained in crisis intervention; I’d wager not—or if they were, they didn’t try to put that training to use.
Based on the video footage Emancipate showed the press and what’s been published online, I’d be shocked if the cops involved face disciplinary action, let alone criminal charges. The bar—even for killing someone—is incredibly low when the killer has a badge. Ultimately, we’re talking about cops investigating cops, and if there’s anything resembling an excuse, they’ll take it.
» TRIGGER HAPPY
Turcios is one of four people killed by Triangle police this year, and one of five in the state. Three have happened in Durham, the other in Fayetteville.
On Jan. 4, Durham County Sheriff’s deputies killed a 28-year-old woman who they say aimed a shotgun at them, which—in the absence of more details—sounds like a suicide-by-cop scenario.
On Jan. 12, Durham police killed a 51-year-old who was allegedly assaulting a convenience store clerk with a sharp object—after being called out to a reported suicide-in-progress.
On Jan. 14, Duke University police killed a man in custody who allegedly injured an officer and grabbed his loaded gun during a medical exam. “The Duke Police officer saw the armed patient with the gun raised toward the Durham Police officer and shot the man, officials said.” (N&O)
Then there’s the very suspicious situation in Fayetteville, where a white off-duty sheriff’s deputy gunned down an unarmed Black man he said jumped on his truck. At least two witnesses dispute the cop’s version of events and say he hit the man with his truck while he was crossing the street and then shot him. Read this thread to catch up on all the ways this one feels very bad:
The more I’ve covered “police-involved shootings”—for the love of God, can we retire that term?—the more I’ve realized that just about any death-by-cop can be justified somehow, someway. Whether a “dangerous” situation arises out of a police officer’s negligence or because of a suspect’s mental illness or temporary disorientation, if a cop feels threatened, the law effectively gives him license to kill.
But very few of the police homicides I’ve covered needed to end up with a dead body, although nearly every single one was declared justified.
» SPEAKING OF BAD COPS
James Blackmon, a mentally challenged man with mental illness who spent 35 years in prison after two Raleigh detectives coerced a false murder confession from him, died last week of a COVID-related illness, according to Jonathan Broun, an attorney who helped exonerate him in 2019. Blackmon was, I believe, 68.
Blackmon has a pending federal lawsuit against the city of Raleigh and the two detectives, who are now retired.