In August, US police killed 104 people nationwide, according to a compendium of local press reports compiled by volunteers on Wikipedia. Dozens more have been killed in the first half of September alone as the wave of police violence continued.
These killings are part of a general pattern of abuse carried out by an increasingly militarized police force. These notes are the first in a series on theWorld Socialist Web Site documenting police violence in America.
Police put Missouri teen in coma with taser during traffic stop
Bryce Masters, a 17-year-old high school student from Kansas City, Missouri, was put into a medically-induced coma after police used a taser on him during a routine traffic stop.
Masters was stopped by police officer Tim Reynolds after arriving at a friend’s house to play video games. He was unable to comply with the officer’s demand to roll down his passenger side window because his power windows lacked electrical wiring. At this point the officer, who discovered that Masters had an outstanding warrant for a traffic violation, decided that the teenager was being “completely uncooperative,” according to a police spokesman.
According to eyewitnesses, the officer became enraged, fired his taser at Masters, pulled him out of the car, handcuffed him, dragged him around the car, slammed him to the concrete, causing bleeding in his mouth, and pressed his foot against the youth’s back while he began convulsing. Friend and eyewitness Abigail Edwards stated, “They turned him over and he was just blue. How do you not know someone is sitting there not breathing?"
Masters’s lawyer says that he went into “full cardiac arrest” as a result of the taser. He was later transported by ambulance to a local hospital. He is now out of the coma but is suffering from memory loss, according to his lawyer.
Utah police shoot young man carrying costume sword
On September 10, police in Saratoga Springs, Utah shot and killed Darrien Hunt, a biracial youth, at a local strip mall.
Two officers were apparently responding to reports that Hunt was wielding a samurai sword and “acting suspiciously” in front of the Cyprus Credit Union. According to the initial police statement, the officers fired on Hunt in self defense after he “brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword.” This statement was only released last Saturday, after days of silence on the incident.
Two days later, however, the police admitted that Hunt had been shot at multiple times during a brief chase through the strip mall. According to a private autopsy by Hunt’s family, police fired six rounds into his back before he finally collapsed in front of the nearby Panda Express. An eyewitness photograph, taken just moments before the first shots were fired, shows Darrien Hunt at ease, smiling with his hands to his side, while the two officers approach.
Police investigators waited a full week after the shooting before interviewing the officers involved. Randall Edwards, an attorney for the Hunt family, expressed skepticism about the impartiality of the investigation, telling local press, “Do we trust the police to do a thorough investigation to find any kind of wrongdoing, and to ultimately punish the wrongdoer? I think the jury is still out on this one.”