Police Brutality in America

Table of Content

“Police brutality is the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians.” Police brutality comes in many different forms and ways with the clearest form being physical, the other forms include improper use of tasers, political repression, racial profiling, police corruption, sexual abuse, psychological intimidation, false arrests, and verbal abuse. To better understand, for example, DJ had a long day at work and drives to his house. He has a branch with a few leaves on it stuck in between the windshield wipers and the hood of his car.

On his way home from work he is stopped by a police officer who asks him for his license and registration. Thinking this is just a quick stop DJ complies and gives the officer what he asked for, and asks “What did I do wrong officer?” The officer replies “Well there’s vegetation stuck to your car and I suspect that it’s a marijuana leaf, so I stopped you.” DJ looks at the officer in disbelief and the officer walks back to his car. Thirty minutes later three more cop cars filled with officers arrive on the scene making the whole situation bigger than it is. Finally, after two and a half hours of sitting there the officers let DJ go home. This is a form of police brutality; the officer did stop him to see what was on his car but calling in more officers and wasting time wasn’t at all necessary. Despite this example, police brutality has more of a history than what has been broadcasted into the news the last decade or so.

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Police Brutality has been around since the Industrial Revolution when the workers were harmed physically by policemen because they went on strike. Police brutality was at its peak during the Civil Rights Movement where all forms of police brutality was used to stop the protestors which included high powered water hoses to knock the protestors down, German Shepard’s to attack protestors, attacked the protestors with intent to kill, tear gas, etc. Since then it has calmed down just a little with a new generation being brought up, but the flames of police brutality were lit up once again. When the death of Trayvon Martin, in 2012, started to make its way across all social media platforms and makes it way onto various news stations that updated the people of America what was going and what was going to happen. After that many more cases of police brutality started to make its way onto the news and across social media over the next few years.

There have been many victims of police brutality over the last one hundred years, and after all this time the most common target for the police has been African American males. Some of the victims include Rodney King, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, etc.

Rodney King was born on April 2, 1965 in Sacramento California to parents Ronald and Odessa King. Rodney King was one of the five other children his parents had together, but his father died at the age of forty-two leaving all the children to his wife Odessa. “At 24 years old, Rodney robbed a store that belonged to a Korean in Monterey Park, California. He stole 200 dollars in cash and hit the owner. He was convicted and put behind the bars for a year.”

On March 3, 1991 Rodney King and his two friends were chased by LAPD after Rodney refused to pull over after he was caught speeding. The high speed chased got intense as many other police cars got involved as well as a helicopter which was also chasing Rodney and his friends. After getting stopped they were told to get out the car, Rodney’s friends listened and got arrested, Rodney refuse and when he finally got out of his car he was dragged out by officers and brutally beat Rodney King.

At the same time Rodney King was getting brutally beat George Holiday recorded the entire incident. A few days later George sent the video to a television station and the clip of Rodney King getting dragged out his car and beat by police officers was broadcasted nationally for a few days. This tape was used in the trial that lasted three months, however “a predominantly white jury acquitted the officers, inflaming citizens and sparking the violent 1992 Los Angeles riots().” Eventually Rodney King was awarded 3.8 million in a civil trial for the injuries he sustained from the beating. Two decades later Rodney King died in his swimming pool on June 17, 2012 in Rialto, California he was forty-seven at the time of his death.

Philando Castile was born July 16, 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Saint Paul Central High School in 2001 and got a job working for the Saint Paul Public School District from 2002 until his death in 2016. ‘’Castile started his career as a nutrition services assistant at Chelsea Heights Elementary School and Arlington High School, both in St. Paul, Minnesota. He then moved on to a higher position at J. J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul in August 2014().”

What led up to the shooting according to the article “On July 6, 2016, Castile was pulled over as part of a traffic stop by Officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. According to officers, Castile and the passenger allegedly resembled suspects involved in an earlier robbery. Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, were returning from grocery shopping earlier in the evening.

He had gotten a haircut, had dinner with his sister, Allysza, and picked up Reynolds from his residence in St. Paul. Yanez walked up to the side window and requested that Castile hand over his license and proof of insurance. Castile did and told Yanez he had a gun in his possession. Moments later Officer Yanez told Castile not to take it out. Castile said he was not pulling out the gun. Yanez yelled, “Don’t pull it out!” and pulled his own gun from his holster, striking Castile seven times at point blank range. Castile died on the scene.” The aftermath of the shooting was live streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend and viewed by many as she is seen in the live stream talking to the officer who shot her boyfriend.

A few days after the shooting an attorney by the mane of John Choi requested a Prompt and thorough investigation of the crime. After the investigation the officer that killed Philando Castile, Yanez, was put on trial and charged with three felonies: one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Yanez was acquitted of all these charges, however the City of Saint Anthony fired him the same day. Philando Castile’s Death sparked protest and marches which caused Interstate 94 in between Minnesota State Highway 280 and downtown St. Paul to be closed. Many more protests happened across the country with some becoming violent.

Michael Brown Jr. was born in Florissant, Missouri on May 20, 1996 to parents Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. He has struggles early on with his education, however he recovered and graduated on time and with his class in 2014. He planned to go to trade school right after graduating.

According to the article the events of case are as follows “At 11:47 a.m., Wilson responded to a call about a baby with breathing problems and drove to Glenark Drive, east of Canfield Drive. About three minutes later and several blocks away, Brown was recorded on camera stealing a box of Swisher cigars and forcefully shoving a Ferguson Market clerk. Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, left the market at about 11:54 a.m. At 11:53, a police dispatcher reported ‘stealing in progress’ at the Ferguson Market and described the suspect as a black male wearing a white T-shirt running toward QuikTrip.

The suspect was reported as having stolen a box of Swisher cigars. At 11:57, the dispatch described the suspect as wearing a red St. Louis Cardinals hat, a white T-shirt, yellow socks, and khaki shorts, and that he was accompanied by another male. At 12:00 p.m., Wilson reported he was back in service and radioed units 25 and 22 to ask if they needed his assistance in searching for the suspects. Seven seconds later, an unidentified officer said the suspects had disappeared. Wilson called for backup at 12:02, saying ‘[Unit] 21. Put me on Canfield with two. And send me another car.’ Initially, reports of what happened next differed widely among sources and witnesses, particularly with regards to whether Brown was coming towards Wilson when the shots were actually fired. At noon on August 9, Wilson drove up to Brown and Johnson as they were walking in the middle of Canfield Drive and ordered them to move off the street. Wilson continued driving past the two men, but then backed up and stopped close to them.

A struggle took place between Brown and Wilson after the former reached through the window of the police SUV, a Chevrolet Tahoe. Wilson’s gun was fired twice during the struggle from inside the vehicle, with one bullet hitting Brown’s right hand. Brown and Johnson fled and Johnson hid behind a car. Wilson got out of the vehicle and pursued Brown. At some point, Wilson fired his gun again, while facing Brown, and hit him with at least 6 shots. Brown was unarmed and died on the street.()” Michael Brown’s death caused fury around the nation adding fuel to the newly found Black Lives Matter Movement. The policeman the killed Michael Brown was put on a trail that lasted more than three months due to the Grand Jury not coming to a decision on the case. After the three months were over the Grand Jury decided not to indict the police officer.

Stephon Clark was born on August 10, 1995, he graduated from Sacramento High School where he played football during his time there. Not much else is known about his early life and or life before the shooting.

According the article “Two officers fired a total of 20 shots at Clark on March 18. The officers were responding to a 911 call reporting someone breaking car windows in the 7500 block of 29th street. A Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter also responded to the 911 call. Deputies in the helicopter reported seeing a man armed with a ‘tool bar’ in a nearby backyard and began directing the ground officers to that location. Police said officers believed Clark the object was a gun and fired, ‘fearing for their safety.’ No gun was found at the scene. Police said the object was a cellphone.

It was found near Clark’s body and taken into evidence. Each of the two officers involved in the shooting fired 10 shots, for a total of 20 shots fired, police say. The Sacramento Police Department released the body camera footage and helicopter footage three days after the shooting. Video from a Sacramento Sheriff’s Department helicopter shows Clark running from a neighbor’s yard and leaping a fence into his grandmother’s property. The deputies in the helicopter can be heard saying the “suspect” had broken a window on the house next door and was checking out another car in the driveway. Police body-cam videos show the police running down the driveway after Clark and taking cover at the rear edge of the building. ‘Show me your hands! Gun, gun, gun!’ one of the officers can be heard shouting just before shots rang out.

California’s attorney general and the police department are conducting an investigation into what happened that night.()” A summarized version of what happened to Stephon Clark: Sacramento shooting of Stephon Clark happened on March 18, 2018. He was killed by two officers of the SPD or Sacramento Police Department. The SPD were looking for a person breaking windows in the area. Once they saw Clark, they deemed him to be the suspect they were looking for. They shot him when he, according to them, pulled out a gun and pointed it at them. After shooting him and killing him in the process, they realized the “gun” he pointed was a cell phone. The case is still live and has not found a verdict, but because of this, the large protests in Sacramento have occurred. (Side note: If you remember viewing my outline then you know I have a lot more information to type)

Work Cited

  1. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/long-painful-history-police-brutality-in-the-us-180964098/
  2. https://thelawdictionary.org/article/what-is-police-brutality/
  3. https://www.biography.com/people/rodney-king-9542141
  4. https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/rodney-glen-king-2737.php
  5. https://www.cnn.com/2014/08/11/us/missouri-ferguson-michael-brown-what-we-know/index.html
  6. http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/14/justice/ferguson-witnesses-credibility/index.html
  7. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/02/607685905/official-autopsy-of-stephon-clark-killed-by-police-contradicts-family-autopsy
  8. https://abcnews.go.com/US/death-stephon-clark-police-shooting/story?id=54039443

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Police Brutality in America. (2021, Jul 24). Retrieved from


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