Obviously not every police officer is a racist, but at this point, I would hope that we can all agree that there is simply too much evidence to the contrary to ignore the fact that the world’s police forces have a wee bit of a racism problem. But if you need more proof (you shouldn’t), try this on for size.
Police in Bristol, England, came upon Judah Adunbi, a black man out walking his dogs. Assuming he was a robbery suspect they had been looking for, they decided to have a chat with him. This upset Adunbi, and he reacted as such.
Surely that’s an admission of guilt from some young punk who lacks the proper respect for rules and authority. That’s what we’d all like to think, because it would be awesome to be able to trust in our law enforcement. But what’s more likely is that his reaction was an expression of frustration, because he was not a robber. But more important than what he wasn’t is what he is. Adunbi is a founding member of the police department’s Independent Advisory Group, which among other tasks works with police on matters of race relations and use of force. So either he’s bad at his job or the cops are horrible students, because guess what happened next. Go on, guess.
The officers asked his name but, agitated, Adunbi refused to tell them.
“I’ve done no wrong,” he said, the entire incident captured by a neighbour who started filming. “Leave me alone.”
He does make an effort to show he’s not a threat. When an officer says he’s holding his keys in a threatening manner, he puts his hands over his head, then clasps his arms behind his back. Still, the confrontation intensifies.
“I’ve asked you to remain calm,” an officer asks.
“Your sergeant is going to Taser me for whatever reason,” Adunbi says, his incredulity mixing in with a thick Caribbean accent.
His entreaties are not enough. When Adunbi tries to go into his home, the officers stop him at the gate. A struggle ensues, and an officer pulls out a black and yellow stun gun.
She pulls the trigger and yells “Taser” three times.
A prong strikes Adunbi just below the chin, sending 50,000 volts through his body. He falls to the ground, now paralyzed, his head striking the pavement.
“All right, you’re being Tasered. OK, you’re under arrest.”
When he was taken to the hospital, the wire from the Taser still dangled from his face.
And perhaps this whole thing upset him even more because it’s the second time in a decade that it’s happened. He was awarded a settlement from police after another mistaken identity incident in 2007, one which thankfully does not appear to have involved a Taser.
In this case, police initially charged him with assaulting a constable in the execution of duty and using threatening or abusing behaviour, but thankfully sense was seen and the case was dropped. The obligatory statement issuing, soul searching and investigating are still ongoing.