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Will The Usual Police Claim Of 'I Feared For My LIfe' Work In The Justine Damond Shooting?

This time it's a white woman, not a black man.

26/07/2017 03:57 SAST | Updated 26/07/2017 09:45 SAST
City of Minneapolis/Associated Press

Just as the family, friends and loved ones of Philando Castile were beginning to heal from the NOT Guilty verdict officer Yanez received after shooting and killing Philando Castile, another police shooting arises in Minneapolis. According to New York Daily News Journalist, Shaun King, "police brutality jumped the racial fence when a beautiful, blonde haired, white woman, Justine Damond, a yoga and meditation instructor from Australia, who was just a few weeks away from getting married, was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer outside of her home." Justine was reportedly unarmed and still in her pyjamas.

Now, it is not unusual for Americans to hear about police shootings. As of today, 660 people have been killed by American police in 2017. However, what's unusual about this particular police shooting is that the individual who was shot and killed was a white woman. Of course, many people, including Justine's family, friends and loved ones are outraged over this tragic event.

However, while we all wait for the details of the story to unfold. I cannot help but wonder whether the, "I Feared For My Life Anthem," that police so readily resort to when they shoot unarmed Black men, women and children, will be enough to save Somali police officer, Mohamed Noor, an officer with only two years experience, who shot an unarmed white woman in her pyjamas? Ever since George Zimmerman got away with killing 16-year-old Trayvon Martin under the anthem, "I FEARED FOR MY LIFE," white gun owners, white homeowners and police offers across America have been using this phrase like a "get out of jail card."

When Officer Yanez was found Not Guilty, for killing a legal card-carrying gun owner, I must admit that on some level I thought that perhaps this time, we would see a conviction like the one officer Liang received after killing Akai Gurley in 2014. However, Officer Yanez was not convicted and in fact was found not guilty on all counts. After Castile's murderer went free there were no outcries from the NRA or conservative groups about Castile's gun or civil rights, no women's marches put on by liberal or conservative white women to support Castile's wife, daughter or mother.

And, even after Phillando's mother stood before the camera in a live interview declaring, "Trust me, one day it's going to happen to you, you, you and you," we did not hear a peep from the people we see standing against the alleged injustice against Justine Damond. All this got me thinking: What would it take for the American people's to take a stand against the disproportionate police killings against unarmed black men, women and children.

My heart goes out to Justine Damond and her family, it really does. I cannot begin to fathom the heartache that her family, friends and community are going through. And, I can only assume that given a choice, Justine would rather be alive honouring her life than recognised as some tragic casualty. She deserves better. She deserves justice, as do all of the victims who have lost their lives as a result of over zealous police officers who were shielded by the anthem, "I feared for my life."

The question is: Will this same "band of brothers" in blue with officer Noor, a Muslim Somali policeman who killed an unarmed, presumably innocent white woman? The answer is yet to be determined.

In most instances when an officer is charged or accused of killing an unarmed American citizen, officers stand together honouring their Blue Lives like a badge of honour.

I can already see that this case is unfolding unlike any other police shooting that we have come across:

  • In less than a week we have the officer's name, race, religion and his family's home address. When, if ever has that happened in any other police shooting?
  • Instead of hiding behind the badge like many of the officers do, and perhaps rightly so, police officer Noor apologised to Justine's family. And, while this was no full out confession, there were some that believe his apology could be him accepting some accountability for his actions.
  • On the other hand, it could also be that officer Noor felt compelled to apologise to Justine's family because he was aware that he shot and killed an unarmed white woman. The question then becomes, whether Noor would have apologised had he shot and killed an unarmed black man or an unarmed black woman for that matter.
  • In this case, there was no rush to "villainize," or make the victim complicit in their own murder, as in the cases of unarmed black men, women and children. With these darker victims, the media is quick to inform us of their alleged past criminal history, if any. We know instantly if they grew up or lived in a single family home, suffered any mental illnesses or smoked marijuana.
  • Inevitably, the most "thuggish" looking picture is shown all across the media. Contrastingly, when we learned about Justine's death we learned that Justine was loved by her family, friends and community and that she was a life-coach, yoga and meditation instructor who planned to marry in a few weeks.

So what's to come of officer Noor? Will there be justice for Justine or will officer Noor's recent apology be enough to find him not guilty? In most instances when an officer is charged or accused of killing an unarmed American citizen, officers stand together honouring their Blue Lives like a badge of honour.

The question is: Will this same "band of brothers" stand in blue with officer Noor, a Muslim Somali policeman who killed an unarmed, presumably innocent white woman? The answer is yet to be determined.

This article was originally published on Huffington Post CA.