Justice

Police Chief Goes Off-Script About Shootings of Unarmed Black Men

September 21st 2016

By:
Willie Burnley Jr.

As issues surrounding police brutality garner greater national attention, activists have increasingly called on law enforcement officials to condemn their peers who shoot unarmed black people, rather than defending their actions or shifting the blame to their victims.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw of Middletown, Ohio answered that call.

Following the death of unarmed, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher — who was shot by Tulsa police while his hands were up in air — Muterspaw said that he’s “sick and drained” of watching what some cops are doing.

Muterspaw used his Twitter account, which is now private, to vent his frustrations about the killing of unarmed civilians by police officers.

Muterspaw said he'll be doing more than just tweeting to address the issue of police violence against black civilians.

He told the local Journal-News that he would use the shooting by Tulsa police to demonstrate how officers should and shouldn't act in similar scenarios.

Muterspaw didn't directly condemn the officer who shot Crutcher to death. Instead, he acknowledged that “mistakes happen” when officers panic and told the paper that the shooting could have been an accident or the result of poor training.

“It could be us tomorrow,” Muterspaw told the Journal-News.

Muterspaw has gotten a fair share of praise for his comments.

Recently, police officers have made headlines for refusing to condemn the actions of the peers who kill unarmed people. In July, New York City radio DJ Peter Rosenberg went viral for his comments on the issue.

 

He forcefully addressed an officer who declined criticize the Baton Rouge cops who killed Alton Sterling.

 

"Police officers never want to say when y'all do a bad job,'" he said.

 

However, Muterspaw's comments aren't unprecedented.

Ohio police officer Nekia Jones proclaimed on Facebook Live in July that she understood the accusations of racism against the officers who were filmed killing Sterling.

 

 

"I'm looking at it and I became so furious. It bothers me when I hear people say, ‘Y’all police officers this, y’all police officers that. They put us in this negative category when I’m saying to myself, ‘I’m not that type of police officer.’ I know officers that are like me that would give their life for other people. So I’m looking at it, and it tore me up because I got to see what you all see. If I wasn’t a police officer and I wasn’t on the inside, I would be saying, ‘Look at this racist stuff. Look at this.’ And it hurt me.”

The issues addressed by Jones and Muterspaw are nothing new, but have taken center stage as cell-phone videos have made police killings of black people harder to ignore. According to a July analysis by the Washington Post, black people make up 13 percent of the population, but account for 24 percent of police shooting victims since January 1, 2015. Further, police officers have shot an equal number of white and black unarmed people in that time, despite black people making up a much smaller percentage of the U.S. population.