Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist from Miami, Florida, was shot by police three times in the leg Monday while trying to help an autistic patient who had run away from a group home.
Kinsey was unarmed. He was lying on the ground. He had his hands up. He was still shot. And he could have died.
Now, a video of the incident has gone viral, which showed the 47-year-old complying with police, submitting himself thoroughly and completely to their will, and still getting shot.
Kinsey’s account of the officer’s response to shooting him speaks volumes.
According to Kinsey, when he asked the police officer why he shot him, the officer’s reply was: “I don’t know.”
This Miami shooting was the culmination of what has possibly been some of the roughest, bleakest weeks in American history. But if these past few weeks didn’t convince those in denial that America has a serious problem when it comes to police brutality and racism, which need solutions instead of denial… what will?
Last week, during a July 13 broadcast of her FOX News show, Megyn Kelly questioned whether or not Philando Castile had possibly drawn his firearm or threatened the police officer who shot and killed him. She questioned his innocence despite the existence of a video which showed him bleeding out in his car, with a child in the backseat, and his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds insisting he complied with the officer (even as the officer continued to point his gun at her).
For Kelly, and so many others, it’s still easier to believe that these victims must have done something to prompt their deaths. This suspension of disbelief and doubt, makes it easier to deny that there might be a systemic problem with the way police interact with black and brown people.
Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and countless others ― these are all instances that should have jolted those who refuse to see the reality of racism and police brutality in America to at least consider the idea that their deaths weren’t random flukes. Their deaths were part of a pattern, a system.
The Miami shooting was one of many instances that demonstrate how black people can be shot by police for no reason, even when they were unarmed, being respectful, and have an unblemished background.
Until we can actually heal from these shootings (both of black folk and police officers), we need to question the senselessness of a system wherein a cop can admittedly shoot someone for no reason and, often times, get off with nothing more than administrative leave. We need to stop looking for reasons to blame the individuals who were shot, and instead try to find out why these shootings happened in the first place.
The Miami officer’s “I don’t know” points to an overall culture of violence against black people that’s bigger than just the involved officer. And the silence, and mental gymnastics people do to justify the shootings of Sterling, Castile and, now, Kinsey by police speaks to a national culture of intentional denial. At this point, if you can’t accept the absurdity of what happened to Kinsey and the countless other black people who didn’t live to tell the tale ― you might as well accept that you probably don’t care about black people.