Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dying While Black: Before and after

"No lie can live forever"

---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lee Deante Brown(1975-2006)

Lee Deante Brown, a Black mentally ill man was shot and killed on April 3, 2005 in the Eastside which is a predominantly Black and Latino neighborhood in Riverside, California. Eyewitnesses at the Welcome Inn of America where he died and at the Budget Inn Motel which was across the street said he died with nothing in his hands.

Riverside Police Department officers, Michael Paul Stucker and Terry Ellefson said in their voluntary statements provided that Brown had a taser in his hands. When Brown was unable to respond to their verbal commands, both officers tased him numerous times, and Stucker struck him in the legs with his baton twice. Nothing worked.

Eight years ago, Tyisha Miller died when four police officers shot and killed her when she was unable to respond to their commands while lying in medical distress inside her car. They used their batons on the car. Nothing worked. She failed to respond to the officers' commands and she died, 12 shots hitting her to the back of her body.

Both Black. Both unable to understand, let alone respond to verbal commands. Both shot to death by Riverside Police Department police officers.

One major difference is that Miller died before the $22 million was spent to reform this police department and Brown died after that money had been spent. People were harassed for speaking out against Miller's shooting and they are being harassed now for even questioning the Brown shooting, even by those who should really know better.

People can silence the messenger, they can rewrite history for a while, they can shut down boards and commissions which come too close to the uncomfortable truth and they can change their minds about who they are and what they represented with the turn of a page as one era ended and another begun. They can even keep demoting, firing and forcing to resign more than qualified men and women of color at City Hall until they simply run out. Riverside did all this before and ended up having to spend a lot of money to get itself out of it. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

What they can't change is the simple truth which is that Tyisha Miller and Lee Deante Brown died because they were Black and mentally or medically incapacitated while in Riverside.
They died because this city's police department never believed that it needed to implement crisis intervention training like other large agencies have. They died because maybe people of color aren't people any more than they used to be. They died in Riverside.

Even the Summer Lane shooting didn't require the shutting down of the Community Police Review Commission's power to investigate shootings, by the city of Riverside, but the Brown shooting does, which speaks volumes about it and the status of this police department a mere nine months after the end of the stipulated judgement.

One of my blog visitors said last April while espousing on Brown's April 1, arrest that when all was said and done with the Brown shooting, it would have nothing to do with mental illness. He or she was certainly correct but what he or she didn't say is that it would also have nothing to do with justice. Pay attention to the city manager's office and the police department in the upcoming days and weeks and see how both conduct themselves in the wake of what they have just done to the CPRC. Look back this past year and see how they have conducted themselves. The results and the actions which inspired them speak for themselves.

Then turn the page back a decade or so ago and you'll see the same thing, only the faces have changed.

Bill Lockyer, we hardly knew you.

"Only I don't sing it," he added, as an explanation.
"I see you don't," said Alice.
"If you can see whether I'm singing or not, you've sharper eyes than most," Humpty Dumpty remarked sharply.

------Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass: And what Alice Found There


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