Another “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” case of an unarmed black man killed by police occurred this time in New Jersey with two police officers- one white and one black doing the shooting. A newly released video of a December 30 encounter in Bridgeton, New Jersey between two police officers and Jerame Reid, shows what starts out as a routine police car stop for running a stop sign and then turns into what appears as a cold blooded killing of the driver, Reid, by the police officers. The gruesome and appalling video shown on the police dash cam shows the incident as it unfolds. The driver who is identified as Jerame Reid says, “I’m not reaching for nothing. I ain’t got no reason to reach for nothing. I’m getting out and getting on the ground.” As he attempts to exit of the car with hands up, he is shot with at least 6 bullets by both officers.
Videos don’t lie. There is no resistance by Reid. Reid is by all accounts obeying the police officers. While one officer finds a gun in the glove compartment, no attempt is made by Reid to reach for the gun. And in the case of Reid, the police officers could possibly have a motive for killing Reid as they recognize and call him by his first name, “Jerame”, even though no identification was provided. Perhaps, the officers recognized Reid who had served thirteen years in prison for killing another officer–a state trooper.
While videos don’t lie, they don’t usually get arrests, charges or convictions against police officers when it comes to the killing black men in America. Eric Garner’s death was videotaped as he shouted “I can’t breathe” while being held in a chokehold. No charges were brought or an arrest of the police officer who choked him to death while he was yelling those words. No state or federal charges were brought against the Ferguson, MO police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown while many witnesses saw Brown with his hands up while being shot by Wilson. And many African Americans wonder where is the justice in these instances.
These three cases have different persons, different facts, different scenarios but the same outcome. They involve a part of a growing trend in America of police killing unarmed blacks without any provocation or justification—in many person’s eyes. And yet the judicial system says otherwise-at least in the cases of Brown and Garner. Neither state or federal charges were brought against Darren Wilson for Michael Brown’s death. And before many persons could digest that reality, another brutal police killing occurs of an unarmed black man with “hands up”. The killing of blacks by law enforcement is nothing new. Killing unarmed blacks under color of the law has been going on since slavery, the early twentieth century, the Civil Rights Movement and now in the 21st century. The blatant public manner of doing it and then getting away with it reinforces for many in the black community that black lives don’t matter to law enforcement, Grand Jurors and prosecutors that fail to indict or bring charges.
And if the prosecution exonerates these New Jersey police officers without charges, many will question as Dr. King once stated in another context if America has lost its moral compass. Both officers should be arrested immediately and charged. Just like as seen in the dash cam video, there is no justification for the killing and shooting of Reid, except that apparently the police officers wanted to do it. And that reason doesn’t justify murder. A special prosecutor should be brought in to investigate and proceed with charges. There is little to investigate when everything is caught on tape, except that a black man’s life in America doesn’t always receive justice. And once again the world is watching us.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor who addresses issues of race and gender in the law. She is frequently seen in the media on Al Jazeera America, Arise TV, BET, C-Span, Fox 5 News, RT- America, Sky News, TV One, among others.