Cop runs license check on a suspicious vehicle. Although they apparently committed no traffic violation, cop insists that his decision to run a check had nothing to do with the fact that the occupants were black, and happened to be driving in an affluent, predominately white neighborhood. The cop’s partner apparently then enters the wrong license number, which returns a car that had been reported stolen. So cop follows car into driveway, which happens to be the home of the driver’s parents, where he lives. Cop approaches driver and occupant with his gun drawn. Driver’s parents come out to see what’s causing the commotion. Cop roughs up driver’s mother. Driver gets up from ground to tell cop to lay off of his mother. Cop shoots driver, a full 32 seconds after pulling into the driveway.
The driver, who was unarmed, will now carry a bullet in his liver for the rest of his life. The cop was charged with first degree aggravated assault. A jury acquitted him. Now this week, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon dismissed the driver’s lawsuit against both the cop that fired his gun and the cop who entered the wrong license plate number, citing qualified immunity. According to Harmon, the officer acted “reasonably,” and moreover, wrongly accusing an unarmed man of stealing a car, pointing a gun at him, then shooting him in the liver, “did not violate [his] constitutional rights.”
Both cops are back on the force. The guy with the bullet in his liver? Tough luck. He’ll be paying his own medical bills.
I guess the lesson here is that if you don’t want to get shot in the liver by a police officer in Bellaire, Texas, don’t drive the car you own and haven’t stolen to your parents’ house, where you happen to live. Or maybe the lesson is to not voice your objections when a cop pushes your mother after she asks why he’s pointing a gun at you, who have done nothing wrong. Or maybe the lesson is to avoid having a cop imagine that you’re reaching toward your waistband for a weapon that doesn’t exist.
Or maybe the lesson is just don’t be black in Bellaire, Texas.