From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Thursday, January 19, 2012

When Cops Kill

Chris Gardian, beaten by Toronto Police Jan. 27th 2011, died Feb 2, 2011.

 We learned today that the SIU has cleared Toronto cops in the death of "Gentle Giant" Charles McGillivary last August. The victim was minding his own business out on a stroll with his mother in their neighborhood when police who were looking for someone matching McGillivary's(who was unable to communicate due to health issues) general description tossed him to the ground and jumped on him. Soon after he lay dead.

McGillivary was tackled to the ground using a “leg sweep” method, and one officer pressed his knee into his right shoulder as he lay on his stomach, the SIU said. Shortly after he was handcuffed, McGillivary fell into medical distress, turning purple and losing consciousness

If this was an isolated incident we could  chalk it up as just one of those things, in other words shit happens but it isn't and we can't. While the SIU was making their announcement on the McGillivary case a coroners inquest was being held into the death of Junior Manon who died two years ago after police stopped the vehicle he was driving. Manon at the time was prohibited from driving and in a moment of panic tried to flee on foot. He was tackled to the ground where witnesses say he was chocked and beaten by up to seven cops. The SIU also cleared the cops of any wrong doing in this case.

Witnesses at the time alleged Manon had been beaten with walkie talkies and choked around the neck by one of the officers. The family’s lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, viewed the body at the morgue with Manon’s family and said afterward: “There was blood all over. He had a neck brace on. His eyes were black and blue … It seems that he died from physical force. He was a healthy young person."

Some may say that two incidents approximately fifteen months apart could be considered a mere coincidence but unfortunately that argument becomes a stretch when you take into account the case of Bill Gardian who died  February 2nd of last year, six days after receiving a beating at the hands of the police.  The SIU declined to investigate Gardian's death as the cause of death was ruled to be the result of mixing alcohol and prescription medication. However it is important to note that the day before he died Gardian had complained of severe headaches. A classic symptom of a head injury,which is clear that he had suffered during the beating administered him by the cops

. “You could tell they were putting a beating on him,” said Steve, 45, who had frequented shelters with Gardian over the last couple of years. “When they did pull him up, he was just a sheet of blood, his whole face, bleeding, and he was already swollen.”

During this same period several people were shot by Toronto officers,but I chose to focus on these three cases because of their similarity in that the lead up to each incident was somewhat mundane in that none of the victims were considered dangerous and in two of the cases they were not involved in criminal activity. Yet the cops each time chose the most violent approach to dealing with these cases resulting in the needless deaths of all three. Despite this not one officer has been held to account and until we start to do so people will continue to die at their hands.

We need to find out what causes cops these days to resort to the most violent option so often, is it training,culture, poor hiring processes or a combination of factors, yet no effort is being put into finding these answers. We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this to continue.

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