Houston cops shoot unarmed black patient in hospital — and then charge him with assault

image via Facebook
image via Facebook

Originally posted September 9, 2015 on RawStory

Alan Pean is a 26-year-old biology student with no criminal record or history of violence. But on August 27th, he was shot in the chest by an off-duty Houston police officer working as a security guard at the St. Joseph Medical Center. The police are claiming that Alan became combative and that they followed standard operating procedure. It’s Alan, they say, who is as fault, and they have charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant. He was arraigned today.

According to the Houston Police Department’s statement,

Officers Ortega and Law were working extra jobs as security at St. Joseph Medical Center at the above address when they were summoned to the eighth floor to help nurses subdue a combative patient.  Once the officers arrived, the patient continued to refuse to comply with the nurses and officers’ demands.  The patient suddenly physically assaulted Officer Ortega, striking him in the head, causing a laceration.  At that time, Officer Law deployed his conducted energy device, which had no apparent effect on the suspect who continued to assault the officers.  Officer Ortega, fearing for his and his partner’s safety, then discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect one time.

But the family and medical professionals are disturbed by the handling of Alan’s case and what looks like a failure on many levels. Alan had driven himself to the hospital the night of August 26, during an acute mental health crisis. When he got there, he crashed his car and was treated for those injuries. But the mental health issues, which were what brought Alan to the hospital in the first place, were ignored, according to the Pean family. Alan’s father, himself a physician, begged the hospital to get his son a psychiatric evaluation given that Alan had suffered a similar episode in 2009. But the hospital decided he was ready to be discharged, clearing him a mere minutes before the shooting. How did he go from being cleared to leave to so combative that only a bullet could protect two officers?

Medical neglect followed by the use of excessive force led to what could have very easily been a fatal shooting. Health care professionals have started a petition condemning the presence of guns in hospitals and the criminalization of patients and mental health patients in particular. It reads

Personally, we stand in outrage for every time he is referred to as “combative” without sub-clause or context, we stand in outrage for every time he is called a “suspect” instead of a patient, we stand in outrage for every time he, one empty-handed, help-seeking man, is painted as a threat to two officers, able bodied and armed, in a hospital.

Professionally, we have been trained in truth seeking and healing. As doctors and medical students, as nurses and care partners, we are trained in how to safely restrain and tranquilize patients, no matter how aggressive, or irritable, or anxious, or threatening they may be. Never is it appropriate or warranted for a patient to be tazed, never is it appropriate for a patient to be struck, never, never, never is it appropriate for a patient seeking care, to have their life threatened in our arms.

Personally and professionally, we are shaken by the reality of this epidemic of police brutality, in which no one– no son of a doctor, no college student, no tender-hearted soul of color remains immune. We stand with shaken hearts and rooted conviction, to speak our collective outrage for Alan Christopher Pean, our gentle friend, a 26 year old who was inexcusably shot in the chest by a police officer, while seeking care as a patient.”

Continue Reading…

‘I can’t breath,’ ‘please don’t let me die,’ and other last words of police brutality victims

Eric Garner arrest (Screenshot)
Eric Garner arrest (Screenshot)

“I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath.” Those were the last words uttered by Eric Garner. He told the police who was holding him in a chokehold eleven times that he couldn’t breath. Yet the policeman, Daniel Pantaleo, kept his arms around his neck and, perhaps even more appallingly, neither the police nor the EMT even attempted to revive Mr. Garner who lay on the ground for seven minutes.

Shirin Barghi, a filmmaker from Iran and based in New York City took the last words of Eric Garner as well as other unarmed Black men killed by law enforcement and turned them into very minimalist images that are truly heartbreaking.

View the images at RawStory

Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture

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The same cop who shot and killed a 21-year-old Black man who wore dreadlocks had a lot to say about the nefarious connection between drugs and Bob Marley music.

Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is one of the two police officers who were involved in the shooting and killing of Darrien Hunt, which took place last week. The police claimed they shot Hunt as he lunged at them with a samurai sword. The Prosecutor initially backed up the claim but has since stated that Hunt was actually dozens of yards away when he was shot multiple times and killed. An independent autopsy and witnesses corroborate not only that Hunt was far away from police, but that he was running away and shot from behind.

It has been revealed by The Guardian that in June of this year Schauerhamer, 32, had written an article in the local newspaper offering parents tips on how to figure out if their kids are into drugs:

If parents are able to familiarize themselves with the specific trends of drug culture, they will be more likely to recognize if their child is descending into the culture and subcultures that drug users associate with. It will be easier for parents to distinguish whether their child is using or associating with people who use drugs.

According to Schauerhamer’s helpful guide, which was published in a local newspaper in June, one of the gate-way subcultures into drugs is “Rasta” culture.

 if your child is listening to Bob Marley’s “Kaya” is wearing a Bob Marley shirt with Bob Marley on it smoking a joint, has a Bob Marley poster in his room, and is wearing a Rasta hat (red, yellow and green), it is highly likely your child is highly high. If they have Rasta colored anything, it is a good bet your child uses or hangs out with drug users.

Nor does the officer shy away from overstating the allegedly indestructible link between style and criminality. He actually writes that,

the spade associated with this [SRH] clothing brand is so mainstreamed now that simply wearing it makes you a walking billboard proclaiming to the police, ‘I use drugs! Arrest me now!’

Continue reading “Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture”

St. Louis cops release incriminating video of fatal police shooting, think they look good

Man with knife in Video re-creation

I have to applaud the police of St Louis. They are pretty powerful. Somehow, they managed to take  a video which captures a fatal, unjustified and unnecessary police shooting, and turn it into a video which, they claim, is “exculpatory” and proves that they were in the right.

In order to understand how they were able to transform the footage to suit their needs, let’s review what everyone agrees happened.

On Tuesday, in St Louis, fewer than four miles away from where the unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by police, a convenience store owner called 911 to report that a man, later identified as Kajieme Powell, had stolen pastries and energy drinks. Another woman called the police and said that Powell had a knife in his pocket and was behaving erratically. Two white officers arrived in an SUV. 23 seconds later, Powell, who was black, was dead on the ground, having been shot by the two officers.

On Wednesday, The St. Louis Police Department released footage recorded on a cell phone by a bystander. According to a police union representative, the footage released was “exculpatory.” In other words, the police decided to release the footage, along with the 911 calls, to show they had nothing to hide.

But let’s compare the footage of what happened and what the police claimed happened.

Police Claim: the police officers started shooting when Powell was within three or four feet of them.

Footage shows: Police started shooting before Powell was that close.

Via youtube. This is how far away from the cops Powell was when the cops shot him.
Via youtube. This is how far away from the cops Powell was when the cops shot him.

Police Claim: Powell was holding the knife ”in an overhand grip.”

Footage shows: Powell’s hands were by his sides. Continue reading “St. Louis cops release incriminating video of fatal police shooting, think they look good”

Are these images of Ferguson or the Middle East? Take the violent state crackdown quiz

Ferguson police (Screenshot)
Ferguson police

After the initially ignored fatal police shooting of the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, people of Ferguson, Missouri, took to social media and the streets to protest the status quo of police brutality. And the police responded to these mostly peaceful demonstrations against excessive force, with… excessive force, using military gear and firing tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and smoke bombs at the mostly non-violent crowd. They responded to claims of a media blackout  around the shooting by arresting members of the media, including reporters who were filing their stories from inside a McDonalds.

The United States likes to think of itself as the land of the free,  home of the brave, and a peace-spreading, stabilizing, inspiring and intervening force for all things good and fair and democratic in the world. But images of Ferguson suggest that this country isn’t the beacon of liberty it would like to be. Many people, in fact, have been comparing the scenes in Missouri to scenes we see in countries considered unstable and undemocratic, especially in the Middle East. So, see if you can tell the difference in these images below. (Answers at the bottom of the page.)

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1. Tear gas in Ferguson.

2. Police shoot tear gas at protestors in Tahrir Square, Egypt.

3. Tear gas thrown at press in Ferguson.

4.Fighter copters in Iraq

5. Ferguson.

6. Ferguson.

7. IDF throws stun grenades at Palestinian protestors.

8. Ferguson.

9. Ferguson. 

10.  IDF throws stun grenades at Palestinian protestors.

11.  Ferguson.

Originally published on RawStory