A spokesperson for the City of Miami Police Department has explained that an officer shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed therapist caring for his autistic patient, because a miscommunication between attending units led them to believe he was ‘the rapist’.
Miami law enforcement had previously been silent on Monday’s incident, but the MPD’s Captain Taylor Wentworth called a press conference to clarify the matter after video phone footage emerged of Kinsey being fired upon and wounded despite lying on his back with his hands in the air.
Wentworth told the assembled press: “What happened was a terrible mistake, but a mistake nonetheless; there was a miscommunication between the police officers present, and they were led to believe that rather than being a kindly care worker, Mr Kinsey was in fact a sadistic sexual predator. In that respect our officers did their job heroically.”
When asked exactly how this occurred, Wentworth said that ‘therapist’ was almost exactly the same as ‘the rapist’, and noted that it was “a God damn miracle” such a confusion hadn’t occurred before, though he paused and shifted uneasily on his feet when a reporter for the Miami Tribune asked how this error could happen through speech.
After a lengthy silence, Wentworth visibly brightened before saying “they were texting each other, the officers, and it was an autocorrect error,” then went on to explain that there had been reports of a rapist running amok before the unnamed officers were called to the scene, before he chuckled uncertainly and added: “Damn autocorrect.”
At this stage Cal Flockhart of MSNBC asked whether it was standard operating procedure for Miami police officers to text one another at the scene of a crime or disturbance, rather than communicating verbally since they were within earshot of one another, and Wentworth replied: “They…didn’t want the…suspect…to hear them.”
A journalist for the Washington Post immediately asked “who was the suspect in this case?”, prompting another long pause during which Wentworth appeared to be checking his phone, which he held beside his trouser pocket, and only after nine seconds had elapsed did he say: “The rapist.”
The Daily Belter’s reporter present at the conference then noted that the video evidence shows that Mr Kinsey and his patient were not within earshot of the officers, since Mr Kinsey had to shout to them to be heard, at which point Wentworth bristled and replied: “The rapist has excellent hearing. This press conference is over.”
The injury to Mr Kinsey, who was hospitalised by a gunshot wound to the leg, is just the latest in a long series of dubious deaths of African-Americans at the hands of the police, culminating in the apparently retributive ‘cop killings’ in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
These deaths came to a greater public consciousness when Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson after “stealing cigarillos and pushing over a convenience store clerk”, prompting Officer Darren Wilson to shoot him in the fear that he too would be pushed over.
And despite the significant amount of civil and social unrest that have followed, particularly in the seemingly targeted African-American community, law enforcement have been bullish and defiant on the point, as well as seemingly always having a quick explanation and damp palms.
On 4th April 2015, Officer Michael Slanger shot dead an unarmed and fleeing Walter Scott in North Charleston, as revealed by video footage recorded by a witness, with Slanger later claiming that Scott was running to retrieve an AK47 he’d secreted in a nearby tree with the intention of killing the President’s daughter.
Even on occasions where police officers haven’t had guns to hand, they’ve still managed to accidentally kill African-Americans in their custody, such as the case of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a choke-hold which the NYPD claimed was a “Heimlich manoeuvre gone wrong” because “Mr Garner was fidgeting too much.”
In the same year, Baltimore resident Freddie Gray’s neck was broken while he was being held in the back of a police van, with a coroner later concluding that the injuries were sustained by physical abuse, despite the offending officers claiming that Mr Gray had inflicted his own injury by repeatedly running head first into the back of the van’s interior “in some weird voodoo dance thing”.
But despite pundits and experts suggesting that it is this continued denial and obfuscation which has presented a narrative of ‘racist police’ just counting down the minutes until Donald Trump becomes president so they can become soldiers of the new Republic, there is little sign that this long trail of black blood leading into America’s bulbous past will change course.