Painfully reminiscent of when Eric Garner was killed by officer Daniel Pantaleo for suspicions of selling cigarettes, video evidence is resurfacing of Jimmy Williams who was choked nearly unconscious then arrested by the Las Vegas police department for selling bottled water in 2013’s scorching summer. Citizens of color continue to protest throughout New York, calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire Pantaleo, who citizens understandably no longer trust. The punishment of losing consciousness or losing one’s life obviously does not fit the crime of selling legal goods illegally. Officers can be heard in the video informing Williams not to resist arrest as Williams wheezes for every breath he can. A bystander filming the assault informed officers, “Saying he’s resisting won’t make him be (sic) resisting.” Still, one has to wonder, with countless white mass shooters safely taken into custody, why excessive force is used against black civilians who are often unarmed.
It isn’t until Williams appears to lose consciousness and his body limply falls to the ground that police then release him from the chokehold and cuff him, face down on the ground. One officer appears to use force with a nightstick to position Williams’ arm before placing his knee on Williams’ back. All the while officers insist Williams is resisting arrest. After Williams is handcuffed, the officer continues to rest his body weight on Williams’ back while surveying the crowd of people watching and filming them.
Aside from the excessive force, officers generally touch Williams excessively almost as a display of ownership. When attempting to right Williams to stand, one officer first turns him on his side, placing all of Wililams’ weight onto his arm and shoulder. After a moment, the officer finally hoists Williams into a sitting position, and places his hands on the back of Williams’ neck for no reason. The officer keeps his hands there, seemingly putting enough force on Williams’ neck for Williams to bend his head down. Then nearly 10 seconds later officers finally help Williams up.
There are subtle ways in which officers lay claim to black people’s bodies. In the video below, a man and a woman are pulled over. The officer tells the man he’s getting arrested and the man says he doesn’t know why. The officer eventually backtracks and insists the man is getting arrested for speeding. The man and woman wait until backup arrives, assuming the second officer will be a bit of a peacemaker, or at least better explain the situation. When the second officer arrives, the man is immediately attacked by both who wrestle him to the ground. Prior to his arrest, the first officer on the scene makes a grab for the man multiple times in an attempt to arrest the man by himself.
Where does the disconnect lie? If white citizens and citizens of color can now agree on police brutality, why does it keep happening? The answer lies within our police institution and government who not only fail to produce consequences for these officers, but reward officers with paid time off while assaults and crimes committed by police are “internally investigated.” A different source would be beneficial. An entity separate from police and the government whose purpose is to genuinely investigate these crimes and issue fair consequences from suspension to termination, and up to pursuing criminal charges in cases such as Eric Garner in which the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by excessive force during an illegal chokehold. This organization should be localized and operated by citizens who actually live in areas that police patrol.
We’ll continue to follow this closely, and encourage others to do the same.
The Juncture Mag staff