While discussing the broader context of the controversial fatal shooting of an unarmed African American by an Oakland transit cop, Chris Hayes cited The Chicago Reporter’s 2007 fatal police shootings investigation, among other reports, while serving as the guest host on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Last week’s involuntary manslaughter conviction for former Oakland transit cop Johannes Mehserle, instead of a murder conviction for killing Oscar Grant, was met with civil unrest in Oakland. However, in Chicago, the response to fatal police shootings of civilians rarely goes that far. In its November/December 2007 issue, The Chicago Reporter found that 45 percent of Chicago police officers who had been sued in federal court for having shot and killed a civilian had been sued previously–in some cases, multiple times.
The other reports Hayes cited include the RAND Corporation’s 2007 report “Analysis of Racial Disparities in the New York Police Department’s Stop, Question, and Frisk Practices” and a New York Times story on bias in “police-on-police” shootings published in May.
During his comments on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Jakada Imani, executive director of the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said that Mehserle’s defense–that he intended to pull his Taser and not his service revolver–was indicative of law enforcement’s indiscriminate use of Tasers. “Police are now quick to [use Tasers] and ask questions later,” he said. It’s a point highlighted in the Reporter’s May/June 2010 cover story “Taser Timeout,” which revealed that Tasers were being used as a first, not last, resort on jail detainees, including individuals bound by handcuffs or a restraint chair.