Just as the family, friends and loved ones were beginning to heal from the not-guilty verdict of Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile, another police shooting arises in Minneapolis. According to New York Daily News journalist, Shaun King, "police brutality jumped the racial fence when a beautiful, blonde-haired, white woman, Justine Damond, a yoga and meditation instructor from Australia, who was just a few weeks away from getting married, was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer outside of her home."
Justine was reportedly unarmed and still in her pajamas. Now, it is not unusual for Americans to hear about police shootings. As of today, 660 people have been killed by American police in 2017. However, what's "unusual" about this particular police shooting is that the individual who was shot and killed was a white woman.
Of course, many people, including Justine's family, friends and loved ones are outraged over this tragic event. However, while we all wait for the details of the story to unfold, I cannot help but wonder whether the "I feared for my life" anthem that police so readily resort to when they shoot unarmed black men, women and children will be enough to save the Somali police officer, Mohamed Noor, an officer with only two years of experience, who shot an unarmed white woman in her pajamas.
Ever since George Zimmerman got away with killing 16-year-old Trayvon Martin under the anthem "I feared for my life," white gun owners, white home-owners and police offers across America have been using this phrase like a get out of jail card. When Officer Yanez was found not guilty for killing a legal card-carrying gun owner, I must admit that on some level I thought that perhaps this time we would see a conviction like the one Officer Peter Liang received after killing Akai Gurley in 2014. However, Officer Yanez was not convicted, and in fact was found not guilty on all counts.
After Castile's killer went free, there were no outcries from the NRA or conservative groups about Castile's gun or civil rights, no women's marches put on by liberal or conservative white women to support Castile's wife, daughter or mother. And even after Phillando's mother stood before the camera in a live interview declaring, "Trust me, one day it's going to happen to you, you, you and you," we did not hear a peep from the people we now see standing against the alleged injustice against Justine Damond.
All this got me thinking: What would it take for the American people to take a stand against the disproportionate police killings against unarmed black men, women and children?
She deserves justice, as do all of the victims who have lost their lives as a result of over-zealous police officers.
My heart goes out to Justine Damond and her family, it really does. I cannot begin to fathom the heartache that her family, friends and community are going through. And I can only assume that, given a choice, Justine would rather be alive honouring her life than recognized as some tragic casualty. She deserves better. She deserves justice, as do all of the victims who have lost their lives as a result of over-zealous police officers who were shielded by the anthem, "I feared for my life."
Already I can see that this case is unfolding unlike any other police shooting that we have come across:
In less than a week we have the officer's name, race and religion. How often does that happen?
2. The officer offered condoloences
Instead of hiding behind the badge like many of the officers do, and perhaps rightly so, police officer Noor offered his thoughts and prayers to Justine's family in a statement. And, while this was no full-on confession, there were some that believe his words could be him accepting some accountability for his actions. On the other hand, it could also be that Officer Noor felt compelled to do so because he was aware that he had shot and killed an unarmed white woman. The question then becomes: would Noor have apologized had he shot and killed an unarmed black man or an unarmed black woman, for that matter?
3. The victim wasn't villainized
In this case there was no rush to make the victim complicit in their own murder, as in the cases of unarmed black men, women and children. With these darker victims, the media is quick to inform us of the their alleged past criminal history, if any. We know instantly if they grew up or lived in a single-family home, suffered any mental illnesses or smoked marijuana. Inevitably, the most "thuggish-looking" photo is shown all across the media. In contrast, when we learned about Justine's death, we learned that Justine was loved by her family, friends and community, and that she was a life coach and yoga and meditation instructor who planned to marry in a few weeks.
So, what's to become of officer Noor? Will there be justice for Justine or will officer Noor's recent apology be enough to find him not guilty?
In many instances when an officer is charged or accused of killing an unarmed American citizen, officers stand together wearing their Blue Lives like a badge of honour. The question is: will this same "band of brothers" stand with officer Noor, a Muslim Somali policeman who killed an unarmed, presumably innocent white woman? The answer is yet to be determined.
Collette Gee is a Relationship Specialist, Author And Speaker that helps men and women create and sustain healthy relationships. Learn More About Collette
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