Police Brutality and Its Lethal Consequences

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Police brutality is the use of excessive and unnecessary force by the police when dealing with citizens. The most common force of police brutality is physical aggression. Police brutality is a huge issue with blacks because of racism. The police always assume the blacks are doing something when they actually aren’t, an example of that is when a person is reaching for something most police officers assume they are reaching for a gun or something illegal. Assumption is a big part of police brutality because the police officers just assume that people are doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing so they shot or arrest them instead of investing in it. “Blacks are presumed to be up to no good, to be no good.” (Goldberg) Blacks have the representation of being up to no good so that’s how people see them especially how the police see them but not all black people are the same.

In the Invisible Man, one of the brothers named Tod Clifton is shot and killed by a police officer. Police brutality is still a main concern in today’s society because what happened to Tod Clifton in the Invisible Man is still happening to people just like him. In the Invisible Man, one of the brothers named Tod Clifton was selling Sambo dolls on the streets even though he wasn’t supposed to do that. The police showed up and Clifton ran away dodging the police officer, he punched the police officer and then Clifton was shot and dead. This incident could have been solved differently as other cases just like his could be. A simple talk could have happened to tell Clifton that he shouldn’t be selling dolls on the street but instead Clifton ran away.

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Tod Clifton’s first name is German means “death” so that is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen to him. There are so many cases all over the news of blacks people being killed by police officers. Philando Castile was 32 years old when he was shot by a police officer because he was pulled over during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. He told the police officer that he had a firearm with him in the car but he was permitted to have it. He was reaching for his license but the police officer thought he was reaching for his gun and the police officer shot him multiple times in the arm and Castile eventually died. His girlfriend video taped it and their 4 year old daughter was in the backseat. Another case is 15 years old Jordan Edwards, he was leaving a house party because he heard the police were coming. When they were driving they passed a police officer who said “the car was moving aggressively toward him” (Yan). The car was actually moving away from him but the police fired into the car killing Jordan who was sitting in the front seat.

Alton Sterling was 37 years old, he was selling CDs outside a convenience store. Police received a call that a man had a gun and they showed up to the stand and pinned Sterling to the ground and shot him. Police said that they thought was reaching for his gun. Walter Scott was 50 years old, he was pulled over for a broken taillight and he bolted out of his car. No one is sure why he did that. A family attorney said he hadn’t paid child support so he could’ve been worried about going back to jail so he ran away from the police. As he was running from the police officer, the police officer shot him multiple times in the back.

Trayvon Martin was walking home from a convenience store when someone called 911 because he looked like he was up to no good and he may be on drugs or something. A neighborhood watch volunteer called the police and then said that Martin was attacking him and hitting him in the nose and knocked him onto the pavement and the watch person took out his gun and shot Martin for self dense.

Eric Garner was 43 years old, he was arrested in front of a store for selling cigarettes illegally. He raised both of his hands and told the police officer to not touch him. The police officer put Garner into a chokehold and pulled him onto the sidewalk. Garner had asthma and told the police officer he couldn’t breathe as many police officers restrained him onto the ground. The police officers said he was on his way to the hospital when he died of a heart attack. The officer are at fault for his death even though they didn’t shot him they still used physical contact and hurt this man. They just assumed he was selling cigarettes illegally and arrested him right away and didn’t give Garner a chance to talk. When he said he couldn’t breathe the police officer didn’t let him go but continued to hold him on the ground. This case is a little different then the other ones because no one shot him they just put him in a chokehold and restrained him. The New York Police Department has a strict no use of chokehold policy. The officer who shot Philando Castile was charged with second degree manslaughter but the city of St. Anthony ended up settling with Castile’s mother for $3 million. Reaching this settlement saved the Castile family and St. Anthony a federal civil rights lawsuit which could have taken years to work through.

The police officer who shot Jordan Edwards was fired from being an officer. A month later he was arrested and charged with first degree murder. The police officer who killed Alton Sterling wasn’t charged with anything because the federal prosecutors said their wasn’t enough evidence to file a charger against the police officer. Sterling’s death sparked change in the city of Baton Rouge, the mayor said that $2 million will be spent on securing body cameras for all of the police force. The training of the police officers also was changed. Having body cameras will avoid police to not being charged with something they did because the body cameras will allow for the federal prosecutors or the mayor to see what their police officers are up too. The officer who shot Walter Scott was fired and charged with murder charge and federal charge. The police officer confessed to using excessive force as part of his plea deal. Since the officer took the plea deal his life in prison and two other federal and state chargers were dropped.

After Scott’s death, the state of South Carolina passed a bill for mandatory use of body cameras for police officers. The North Charleston City Council decided to settle $6.5 million with Walter Scott’s family. Trayvon shot wasn’t shot by a police officer, he was shot by someone named Zimmerman. Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder but he was found not guilty. This brought out protests across the country and the Black Lives Matter movement became national famous and known. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee was fired from his job for not arresting Zimmerman right after he killed Martin. The police officer said he never intended to hurt Garner to his family. They just wanted to take him into custody after he resisted his arrest. The city of New York settled with Garner’s family for $5.9 million and the city was never admitted a liability of his death.

Black lives matter because the country was founded on black labor, slavery. It was built on black suffering. “Black lives matter because black people continue to exemplify what it means to be human in the face of inhumanity and dehumanization, to live a human life against the constraints of “racialization”, in the face of insistent institutional violence and (social) death.” (Goldberg) This quote is saying that black people show as what it’s like to be humans even though they have to deal with that some people don’t accept them as human beings and they have to deal with a lot of racism. Two black undercover police officers were shot by white officers. They were mistaken as criminals as they were uncover to try to arrest someone.

This incident happened in New York City. One of the police officers was thought to be a mugger by the white cops because he was trying to arrest someone and was digging through her handbag with his gun drawn. The officer hadn’t identified themselves before he was shot. The white officer had no idea that he was undercover cop. The jury didn’t charge the officer who shot him because the white officer had no idea he was an undercover cop. The other undercover cop at his gun drawn at a suspect and he was mistaken by for a criminal and shot by an off duty white police officer when he was on his way home. The white cop stood over the undercover officer as he lay there helpless on a subway platform after being shot three times in the back. The white officer was charged with second degree assault and sentenced to 200 hours of doing community service. He was also to be on probation for five years. This same incident happened in Nashville, Tennessee as well. It’s interesting to see that police officer aren’t just shooting people but mistaking police officers for criminals.

These deaths are different than Tod Clifton’s death. They are relate back to each other because they were all unarmed and killed by the police. Tod Clifton was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing but that is no reason for him to loose his life. All of the other deaths, the people weren’t doing anything that was illegal. It was the cops assuming something or someone resisting arrest so the cops needed to show them who is in charge by using physical contact. Most of the people were pulled over for something and the police thought they were up to no good so they shot them.

Police shouldn’t be allowed to use physical aggressive unless it’s very necessary and in all of these cases it wasn’t necessary. The government and court need to be stricter with what police officer can do and can’t do. They don’t have many guidelines. They shouldn’t be able to shot someone because they think that are reaching for a weapon but they are just grabbing their license or cellphone. Things just need to change for the police officers. Some states have a no chokehold policy which all states should have. Police shouldn’t be able to get away with the murder of someone when it was their fault. Most of the cases the police officers got fired but ended up getting away with murdering someone. We never find out what happened to the police officer that killed Clifton but that was a different time period so the police officer probably didn’t get in trouble.

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Police Brutality and Its Lethal Consequences. (2021, Aug 27). Retrieved from


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