What happened in Minneapolis this week did not surprise me.
The first police practices case I worked on, really sort of the first legal case I was part of, involved an elderly bedridden Black man who was shot to death by four San Francisco police officers in his own bed in his own home. https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/217426.
I will skip the gory details but this is what the investigation that was a consequence of the civil rights lawsuit that I worked on revealed: Four very young officers claimed that they had been pursuing a criminal suspect into a building. They were checking the doors and found one that was unlocked. They opened the door, flooding light from the hallway into a dark room. The light hit a mirror and the officers saw guns and started shooting. The guns were their own weapons.
Mr. James was bedridden and was helped in his day to day life by neighbors. So the door had been left open, for the helpers..
So, now, many years later, the Minneapolis case doesn’t surprise me. How could it.
On one of the other platforms where I hang out online, the question was asked about “how did I feel about the burning of the Minneapolis police precinct building?” I pulled my punches. This is what I deleted: If I had been the mayor, I would have personally lit the torch made from the contracts with the police unions, tossed in the gas can and then thrown in the firebrand.
I would also have waited with the most likely a bit shocked crowd while the building went up in flames. I would have hung around, accepted a couple of beers and waited until I could piss on the ashes.
P.S. May 31, 2020 at a news conference following a week of unrest that became national, the words of this essay proved prophetic.