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Racial Profiling Comes With A High Price Tag

It is impossible to calculate the emotional price for racial profiling but the monetary cost is not too hard to calculate.

Whether it was the family of Eric Garner, who received a $5.9 million settlement in August 2017 from the City of New York after Garner died from an apparent chokehold on July 2014. Or the two police officers in Asheville, N.C. who resigned after video footage on Aug. 25, 2017 showed them Tasering and beating Johnnie Jermaine Rush, an African-American man whom they accused of jaywalking. Clearly, the cost for racial profiling is high.

This past August, Rush received a $650,000 settlement from the City of Asheville. According to news reports, Rush’s attorneys will get $307,500, with the rest will go to Rush in periodic payments.

Camera footage in Asheville taken after midnight on Aug. 25, 2017 shows Officer Chris Hickman repeatedly hitting Rush on the head with a closed fist, and Rush crying out in pain as he is shocked with a Taser.

Rush flees on foot, is apprehended, and repeatedly yells, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe. Help. Help.”

Hickman says to an officer later in the video, “I beat the s—- out of his head. Not gonna lie about that.”

Hickman, 31, was removed from patrol duty a day after the incident in August 2017 and resigned from the Asheville Police Department in January 2018, the same day he was to be terminated, according to news reports. Hickman was arrested in March 2018 on a state felony charge of assault by strangulation, plus misdemeanor counts of assault and communicating threats. In June 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice said Hickman would not face federal charges.

Records show the base salary for a patrol officer in Asheville ranges from $46,362 to $54,093 with an average base salary of $49,649.

In the Garner case in New York, the monetary cost for racial profiling is straightforward unlike the emotional cost. He and his wife, Esaw were married for 28 years. She said she cannot sleep at night. Police “treated my husband like an animal, and I think they give animals more respect … now I have no one but my children, and I am alone to deal with this for the rest of my life.”

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The costs for racial profiling continue to add up. Three years after her father died, Erica Garner, who became an advocate for police reform after her father’s death, died at age 27 in December 2017. Garner’s daughter said after the settlement was announced that the $5.9-million “does not represent justice” and that “no amount of money is going to bring my father back.”

According to news reports, Garner’s daughter was placed in a medically induced coma in December 2017 after an asthma episode precipitated a major heart attack. She was being treated at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn, and died there. No official cause of death was given.

When her father, who also suffered from asthma, was choked by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, he repeated the words “I can’t breathe” 11 times – a phrase that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement and other activists. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide.

The NYPD filed departmental charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who strangled Garner, four years after Garner’s death. A case against his supervising NYPD sergeant, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, is still pending, according to news reports. An NYPD official told CNN that disciplinary hearings for Pantaleo will likely take place in early 2019.

Records show that new officers in the NYPD receive a starting base salary of $41,975 a year. However, the total salary amounts to $44,744 with the inclusion of holiday pay, uniform allowance and average night-shift differential. Police officers also receive compensation for overtime. According to the NYC government website, a police officer’s salary includes holiday pay, longevity pay, uniform allowance, night differential, and overtime. Police officers may potentially earn over $100,000 a year.

According to The New York Post, Pantaleo continues to work for the NYPD on Staten Island, although he is not on the street. He was married in Brooklyn in June 2017. The couple’s wedding reception was at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, N.J.

The high costs of racial profiling continue to add up. Do you remember how Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control officers slammed an African-American University of Virginia student to the ground in 2015?

This past June, Martese Johnson received a nearly $250,000 settlement. Johnson graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a first-year law student at the University of Michigan. He was beaten by Virginia Department of ABC officers on March 18, 2015.

Johnson’s attorneys reached a $249,950 settlement in the $3 million lawsuit that was filed after his bloody arrest in 2015. ABC agents were videotaped handcuffing Johnson as he lay on the ground, bloody and indignant. He required 10 stitches to his head. He later was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, but the charges were eventually dismissed.

Meanwhile, one of the ABC officers lost his job. According to press reports, a spokeswoman for the ABC, Dawn Eischen, said enforcement agent Thomas Custer no longer works for the department but Jared Miller still is employed there. Records show the average annual salary for a City of Charlottesville police officer in Virginia is about $46,626, which meets the national average.

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During his first year in law school at the University of Michigan, Johnson reflected on his past and present in a Sept. 13, 2018 interview in The Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper. “The more important lesson I learned, which so many men of color must come to terms with, is that my personal achievements and accolades didn’t stop me from being seen as just another Black man.”

It is clear what happened to the white police officer in Ohio who was fired for video footage that showed him beating African-American motorist Richard Hubbard III, after pulling him over in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland on Oct. 17, 2017. The officer, Michael Amiott, was terminated from his job with the Euclid Police Department Mayor Kirsten H. Gail said in a recent statement.

However, it is unclear what will happen to the police officers who pulled over Chinedu Valentine Okobi, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Okobi went into cardiac arrest a few weeks ago after being tackled by San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies and repeatedly tased. At least five deputies were involved.

While Okobi, a 36-year-old father and Morehouse graduate died alone after struggling with police officers, his sister Ebele Okobi, a prominent Facebook executive has received an outpouring of support from top executives including Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

In a recent interview in USA TODAY, she said, “There’s a part of me that’s angry that this is the reality for everybody Black I know and that people can live completely oblivious to that reality.

Okobi, Facebook’s director of public policy for Africa, told USA TODAY. “I definitely think within Facebook, for a lot of my friends and my colleagues, there has been this realization and this recognition that this is a significant national problem.”

According to reports from the sheriff’s department, Okobi was approached. He “immediately assaulted” a deputy. At least two deputies fired their stun guns for a total of four discharges, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, whose office is investigating Okobi’s death.

The Okobi family’s attorney, John Burris, who represented the families of Mario Woods, Oscar Grant and Rodney King in civil lawsuits against police departments, says a passerby described seeing Okobi sitting on the ground, chin on his chest, appearing to be unconscious with foam around his mouth, while being propped up by the knee of one of the deputies.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

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