Skepticism Towards A Maryland Mother, Korryn Gaines Killed By Police, Sheds Light On White Privledge!
At least 682 people have been killed by American police so far this year. The average person in my circle can probably only name two of them — Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. It’s hard for a story of a fatal encounter with police to break through all the noise, become a trending topic and force its way into our lives. It’s hard for anything to break through the Trump-dominated news cycle nowadays actually.
The horrific shooting death of 23-year-old mother Korryn Gaines by police in her Baltimore area home on Monday afternoon is one of those stories. We should all be cautious to believe the first version of events offered by police when they use lethal force. If law enforcement officers make a huge mistake, they will rarely come out and admit such a thing on the day of the event. The first version is almost always the version that frees them from all responsibility and attempts to shape the narrative of how such a shooting was absolutely unavoidable.
To be fair, sometimes police must use lethal force to protect themselves and the community they pledge to serve. Other times, the lethal force was an optional choice. Police, for instance, did not need to choke Eric Garner to death to protect themselves. Police, for instance, did not need to shoot Tamir Rice or John Crawford or Rekia Boyd to protect themselves. Police did not need to shoot Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell or Ramarley Graham to protect anyone. Even they thought they needed to — they were wrong. All of those men and women posed no true threat to anyone, but police chose to kill them based on their incorrect assumptions.
I do not believe that police had to shoot and kill Korryn Gaines Monday. Her 5-year-old son was shot in the process. Police will not yet say if they shot the boy or if Gaines, whom they claimed was pointing a gun, shot him on accident — but what we ended up with was the worst case scenario.
Baltimore County police say that at 9:20 a.m. several warrant squad members and a uniformed officer arrived at a home to arrest Gaines and another man. Gaines was wanted for several petty misdemeanors — traffic violation, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Why it took a team of men to arrive at her home over these violations is not yet clear. What is clear, is that Gaines did not feel comfortable turning herself over to police, possibly because she had her 5-year-old son with her.
To outsiders who may see police as the their local neighborhood heroes, maybe her behavior perplexes you — but I get it. Maybe the sheer volume of men outside her door frightened her? Maybe she was afraid her sweet young son was going to be taken away somewhere unsafe? Maybe she had an understandable phobia of law enforcement and police violence? Such phobias, in light of widespread police brutality in Baltimore and around the country, are far from absurd. Whatever the case, Korryn Gaines clearly did not feel comfortable turning herself in under those circumstances.
Police claim that sometime later that morning, a landlord provided them a key to the house and they entered the home. They claim that Korryn Gaines then pointed a gun at them. From that point forward the police said they called in a tactical team, but many hours later, around 3:00 p.m., she told police she would kill them if they came in.
Police decided to go ahead and shoot her instead, killing her. Police do not dispute that they shot first. They claim she shot at them after they shot at her. Her young son was shot in the process and is currently hospitalized.
If Korryn Gaines is now dead and her son, without his mother, is shot, who exactly did the police aim to protect in that house? It was surrounded. She couldn’t leave. It appears that police just didn’t feel like waiting it out any longer. Why not? Was her life not worth the wait? Was her son’s life not worth the wait?
When I announced earlier this morning that I was writing a piece on her story, I received a reply asking, “Will it help me understand the outrage over this? She had a shotgun aimed at police, white or black you are going to get shot.”
First off, I don’t know if she pointed a shotgun at police or not. Baltimore County police claim to have body cameras on their officers, but we continue to see case after case where they aren’t turned on or “aren’t working.” I’d prefer to see the video before accepting this narrative. Maybe she did point the gun at officers. What I know is this — the Twitter user who said “white or black you are going to get shot” if you aim a gun at police is woefully misinformed.
In the past month alone, white men all over the country have aimed guns at police and lived to talk about it.
A white man, 62-year-old William Bruce Ray, first pointed his shotgun at incoming traffic, fired a handgun at police, then threatened a deputy with his shotgun, before reaching again for his handgun. Guess how many times police shot good old Willie Ray? None. They subdued and arrested him without firing a single shot.
In a fit of road rage, Anthony Vigilotti pointed a handgun directly at a police officer, but was arrested later that day without incident. From his mugshot, it doesn’t even look like he received a scratch in the process.
Jed Frazier pointed his handgun directly at police, but “officers and medics took shelter and continued to make contact with Frazier. Shortly before 3 a.m. Police say they broke the windows in the truck and extricated Frazier. Frazier was treated for minor injuries before being taken to the Lawrence County Jail.”
In a quick search, I found a dozen similar stories from July alone. White men, be they mass shooters like Dylann Roof (Charleston), James Holmes (Aurora), or Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson) — or men like William Bruce Ray, Anthony Vigilotti, or Jed Frazier — all live to face a jury of their peers.
Korryn Gaines doesn’t have a violent history. She was a cosmetologist and, according to her friends and family, a doting mother. She should’ve received the treatment that all of those armed white men received. Somehow, in each of those cases, police found in their hearts to overcome their fears without unloading their guns on those men.