Here’s what we know: On Saturday, March 9, 2013 around 11:30pm, two plainclothes officers—Sgt. Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova—emerged from a maroon sedan on East 52nd St. in East Flatbush and approached a group of eight teenage boys, including 16-year-old Kimani Gray. According to police and other eyewitnesses, Gray started backing away from the approaching officers in a suspicious manner, and at some point reached for his waistband. Cops claim he pulled out a gun and aimed it at them, though some witnesses claim he didn’t pull out a gun, and other witnesses didn’t see enough to be sure. The police ordered Gray to freeze, and when he disobeyed, they fired 11 bullets, 7 of which hit him. Two hit his right thigh, two the backs of his thighs, one the back of his left shoulder, and one each his left ribcage and forearm. Gray fell to the ground and was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
We also know that police recovered from Gray’s body a .38-caliber Rohm’s Industry revolver with two spent and four live rounds. Police learned after Gray’s death that he had been arrested four times for adult charges including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and inciting a riot. Police believe Gray was a member of the Bloods gang, based on his presence in two online videos in which he wore a red hoodie and dressed down a member of the rival Crips. Ex-gang member Shanduke McPhatter, who works with troubled youth in Gray’s crime-ridden neighborhood, set the context for the shooting: “[T]he situation on the streets has grown more complex for law enforcement: gangs are less organized, replaced instead by informal crews with few requirements and in which leadership is frequently up for grabs among increasingly young members.”
Here’s what we don’t know:
We don’t know whether Gray pulled out his gun and pointed it at police.
We don’t know the order in which the bullets hit Gray or whether police shot him in the back. Coroners are attempting to ascertain these details, which could help determine which way Gray was facing when police shot him. The fact that only three bullets hit Gray from the back suggests he may have turned and tried to run after being shot in the front; the testimony of eyewitness Camille Johnson supports this account. That two bullets hit Gray in his right thigh implies police shot him from the front first: had they already shot him five times from the back and side, it’s unlikely they would have precisely targeted two shots to his right thigh. Four bullets in his thighs suggest cops were not shooting to kill but to wound.
That’s what we don’t know—but don’t worry: not having all the facts isn’t preventing overheated rhetoric and wanton violence from cop-haters and liberals who condescend to people who live in high-crime areas by assuming they don’t want a strong police presence.
Those cop-haters—joined by a smattering of Occupy Wall Street types—have engaged in the following helpful activities while awaiting all the facts:
After a vigil for Gray Monday night, dozens of protestors marched to the local police precinct, where they threw bottles and garbage at the station, forcing police to don riot gear and set up a roadblock. They threw rocks and glass bottles at oncoming traffic and broke several bus windows. A group of 60 rioters stormed a local Rite Aid, destroying merchandise and knocking over a cash register. They struck a pastor over the head with a wine bottle, stole his cellphone, and assaulted the store’s manager. After looting the drugstore, they hit a local fruit market, where they demolished merchandise and stole money from the cash register.
After another vigil Wednesday night, rioters were at it again, throwing bricks at officers, hurling chairs, and tossing projectiles through police van windows. Forty-six hooligans were arrested for disorderly conduct, assaulting police officers, and destroying property.
What does it say that Gray’s supporters behaved this way after his shooting? It doesn’t imply his guilt, but it certainly doesn’t help their case. As with the Trayvon Martin shooting, rioters seem to think behaving like savages and harming innocent people will help their legal argument. Do they really believe it will draw more support for their side? Do they see themselves as courageous freedom fighters?
There was a time in this country when racial injustice was prevalent and African Americans couldn’t get a fair deal from our criminal justice system. The time of demonstrable, documentable, provable police bias is long over. An occasional shooting of an armed or suspicious-looking black suspect in a high-crime neighborhood who disobeys police orders is not proof we are living in Jim Crow America.
During the civil rights era, crusaders for justice stood their ground with quiet dignity and let racist cops and governors disgrace themselves by turning on the fire hoses and releasing the attack dogs. This new trend—riots in Los Angeles, flash mobs in Philadelphia, ransackings in Miami Beach—is a perversion of civil disobedience and the polar opposite of justice.
- Media gives Kimani Gray the Trayvon Martin treatment (topconservativenews.com)
- ‘Wanted’ poster targets cops in Kimani Gray shooting (pix11.com)
- Identities of Officers Involved in Kimani Gray Shooting Revealed (blogs.villagevoice.com)
- One More Bullet Creates Selective Moral Outrage – Flatbush: Kimani Gray / Chicago: Jonylah Watkins Shootings (theconservativetreehouse.com)
- Kimani Gray’s Mom Asks Why Her Son Was ‘Slaughtered’ by Police (atlantablackstar.com)