There have been months of non-stop protests against police violence in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd, but it doesn’t appear to have had one iota of impact on the behavior of America’s police forces, who are still employing just as much unnecessary force against people of color as they always have — and killing them with it.
Police in Phoenix, Arizona have finally released the body-camera footage of the August 4 altercation which led to the death of Ramon Timothy Lopez, a father of two who suffered from schizophrenia. Some passerby who couldn’t mind their own business called the cops on Lopez, saying he was “sticking his tongue out” at cars and “acting funny.”
The police showed up and chased him. Lopez ran into a convenience store, stole a drink, and threw it at the cops before taking off again. After they catch up to him, Lopez is shoved to the ground, his face pressed into the hot asphalt on a 100-degree plus day for over six minutes and fell unconscious. When they realized he was unresponsive, the cops simply poured water on his head and yelled at him to “wake up.” He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
In places like Arizona that regularly see extreme heat, hot asphalt is known to cause second degree-burns at 131 degrees and regularly gets up to over 160 degrees in Phoenix.
An internal investigation is underway, but the results of any internal police investigation are almost certainly foregone conclusions that inevitably exonerate the police of any wrongdoing.
It is both infuriating and heartbreaking to see the police behave this way again and again and again, refusing to alter their behavior in the slightest after provoking nationwide riots with their excessive violence and cruelty.
Having deprived all other social services of desperately needed funds and resources in order to fuel the gargantuan police department budget, American society, rather unreasonably, asks its police officers to pick up the slack. They are expected to be social workers, mental health aides, family mediators in addition to “law enforcement” while receiving almost no training to do anything but fire a gun.
That is why mentally ill Americans are sixteen times more likely to die in an encounter with the police and are the victims in anywhere from one quarter to a half of all fatal police shootings.
Had the police bothered to call a social worker, the situation could have been easily de-escalated and an innocent man would still be alive. “I just feel like they could’ve done something, and I just feel like they cheated my kids of their dad,” said his girlfriend, Evangelina Rodriguez to ABC15. “He always said that the cops are going to kill me.”
Instead, they assumed he was on drugs and killed him.
Opinion columnist and former 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.