One might think that the weeks of protests against police killings of Black Americans would inspire the police to conduct themselves with a little more restraint, but the controversial shooting of James Garcia over the weekend proves that once again that the police have no intention of changing their violent ways.
Viral video shows the Phoenix PD surrounding a parked car in a driveway and then executing the driver, believed to be a man named James Garcia, at point-blank range. “Hey, stop f**king moving. I will f**cking shoot you,” the cop can be heard yelling right before ten gunshots ring out.
CONTENT WARNING: gun violence
My friend’s cousin was killed today while sleeping in his OWN driveway by Phoenix PD. He was unarmed and shot at close range. Please share so we can get him justice. #justiceforjames pic.twitter.com/5C9CupUmqi
— jess (@heybtwj) July 5, 2020
The police were responding to a 911 call which claimed a man had recently tried to assault the caller a week earlier and had returned with a knife and was “threatening to harm him again.” When he arrived, he pointed to a “specific home” and had the police investigate there. The police began talking to Garcia, who activists say was asleep in his car.
A woman claiming to be Garcia’s sister on Facebook said the Garcia was unarmed and asleep and that police found the real suspect after killing Garcia.
He wasn’t even the suspect they were looking for. pic.twitter.com/HTCErEkO6h
— jess (@heybtwj) July 6, 2020
It is unclear if Garcia was the man they were searching for. Police justified the shooting by claiming that the victim had a gun and was reaching for it, but that version of events is disputed by witnesses. Both officers were wearing body cameras.
“They put the gun on his head like this and they’re still telling him not to move, to get his hand off a gun he (didn’t) have and then they shot him again. They made sure he was dead,” said Garcia’s friend Steven Merry, who took a video of the incident.
City Councilman Carlos Garcia condemned the violence in a statement on Facebook and questioned why the police were already muddying the waters with a “premature statement leaving out facts.”
“It does not shock us that despite all the scrutiny from community Phoenix PD continues to respond violently to calls. But, we must all continue to ask for transparency and accountability. We cannot allow for dishonest narratives to be built by violent departments. The department also issued a premature statement leaving out facts about the case. We will continue to call for independent investigations into officer-involved shootings.”
The problem is that at this point, nothing the police say can ever be taken at face value. It is a simple fact of life in America that the police are routinely dishonest about everything and that lying is a fundamental part of police culture. Body cameras are an important first step towards establishing some kind of neutral evidence in these kinds of cases, but of course, it’s the police who get to decide when that footage is released — if it ever is.
We must demand a full investigation into this shooting and determine what really happened — and why the cops decided they needed to shoot a man in a parked car ten times in the middle of the suburbs.
Ask any public defender & they’ll tell you. Police lie every day. Not just sometimes. Not just some police. All police. Routinely. Not only are there no consequences, lying is incentivized. The more arrests, the more promotions. Lying is a winning strategy.https://t.co/nHuPOugV76
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) July 3, 2020
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.