Two recent officer-involved incidents of police brutality have gone viral on social media. Surely, you’ve heard about the father who was tased 11 times and about the police raid in Houston, Texas, that resulted in the deaths of two innocent people chilling at home.
These two cases, while horrific, brings police brutality into the limelight once again. This time, however, involves innocent white folks. No, I’m not going to sit here and tell you “we told you so,” although many have. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to discuss these two incidents in more detail.
The footage of the guy getting tased a ridiculous amount of times, in front of his wife and kids, for nothing more than questioning what the hell was going on, is quite obvious. The officers were way out of line as they are so accustomed to. And that’s the biggest part of the problem. Isn’t it?
For the most part, police have been pushing people around without question for a long time. Too long. Decades. Centuries if you really think about it. Now, when we call for accountability, police unions immediately go into attack mode. The all too familiar “us versus them” idiom. That couldn’t have been more evident when the president of the Houston Police Officers Union was allowed to address the public in a threatening way.
“Enough is enough. If you’re the ones out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well just know we’ve all got your number now. We’re going to be keeping track of all of y’all, and we’re going to make sure to hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers.” — Joe Grimaldi, President of the Houston Police Officers Union
Now, there’s a lot to unpack here. But let’s just focus on the fact that the officers he’s talking about were part of a botched raid and were shot by a man who was defending his home. They kicked in his door, shot his dog, and proceeded to murder him and his wife based on fraudulent information from a Houston Police Narcotics Officer. Their official report is now being questioned along with that of their initial motivation to conduct a “no-knock-raid” on the home.
I want you to remember that these raids, along with being error-prone, are nothing new.
Most of the time, they get swept under the rug by attaching bogus charges onto these cases and/or suspects whether living or deceased. It’s something that we are not only too familiar with but have allowed to be normalized without question or accountability.
New reports out of Houston show that narcotics officer Gerald Goines — the officer that provided “evidence” that allowed for the no-knock-raid warrant to be issued — not only has a troubled past but also lied in order to get said warrant.
Throughout his history with the department, he has been involved in multiple shootings, had been reprimanded many times, has faced many lawsuits, and is currently facing potential charges for fabricating a drug deal then perjuring himself in order to win a conviction against a man who has maintained his innocence.
According to the Houston Chronicle: “Through it all, the longtime narcotics officer consistently racked up glowing reviews and praise from supervisors who called his work “impressive” and wrote that he set a “good example for new officers in the squad,” according to police records. Last month, as Goines lay in the hospital after the gun battle, Chief Art Acevedo praised his courage, describing the 54-year-old sergeant as “strong as an ox” and “tough as nails.”
This is exactly what happens when a department doesn’t have any oversight over how it conducts itself and why proponents of law-enforcement reform keep demanding it.
The officer in question, as evidenced by the release of recent court documents and reported by the Houston Chronicle, is now facing potential criminal charges after HPD could not track down the informants who made the drug buys that initiated the issuance of the warrant. This is why people are angry with law-enforcement nationwide. This isn’t an isolated incident. This happens with regularity all over the country.
The fact that he’s had such a troubled past and was still being rewarded for it, solidifies what we’ve been talking about for years. It goes further than that. Usually, when an officer is fired for such conduct they are typically allowed to get hired at another department in an adjacent city or county. It’s that lack of accountability that allows for blatant use of force all over the country.
People in Houston and all over the country are angry. But when it happens to white folks, more people tend to take notice. It’s my hope that these cases draw the much-needed attention to the conversations many of us have been trying to have when it comes to police brutality. It’s my hope that these incidents’ lead to much-needed police reforms. It’s my hope that some folks begin to understand why Colin Kaepernick took a knee, why Black Lives Matter was started, and why people of color have been screaming about this for decades.
While Joe Grimaldi’s words certainly didn’t help things, it also shined a bright light on the divisive rhetoric that comes from all levels of law enforcement in America and goes to show the unwillingness of those who blindly defend the police are to listening to the general public.
It is my hope that these cases bring more attention to the matter at hand. So that all these folks didn’t die in vain. It’s time we all came together and talked about the real issue.
Uncontrolled police brutality.