It’s another in a long line of racially charged incidents of police brutality stories that have been plaguing the US. But this time, the person who was grievously injured was just a child.
A team of three police officers who were investigating a report of shots fired in Trenton, New Jersey happened across 14-year-old Radazz Hearns and two other young boys who were walking nearby. When the officers tried to question them, the boys fled. That’s when the officers opened fire, shooting Hearns seven times from behind—five penetrated his leg, one his left, and the seventh lodged in his pelvis.
There’s no claiming self defense when the person you shot was running from you.
Some would argue that the teen brought it upon himself, for running away instead of complying with the police. But it’s important to note that the cops were out of uniform, and had just exited from an unmarked minivan. They could very well have been ordinary citizens, pretending to be cops in order to overpower the three kids.
And it’s true that witnesses saw Hearns reach for his waistband before the cops opened fire, perhaps thinking he was reaching for a gun…but it’s been made clear that he was merely attempting to pull up his pants.
Still, people have found a way to malign the young teen, even if their arguments are ludicrous and reaching:
Rhonda Tirado, who witnessed the incident, remarked that:
"Those police were amped and they didn't give that little boy a chance.”
"I don't think those little boys had no clue what was going on. I think they was at the wrong place at the wrong time.''
Afterwards, it was confirmed that Hearns was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
Hearns is likely to survive, but the damage has been done. The young boy was evidently already distrustful of the police. Now he, and others, have been given more reason to worry.
The response to the incident has been highly emotional, with many taking to social media to share the extent to which they live in fear of the police.
I won't let my son outside to play. I told him that it's about his dirty room. I couldn't tell him, I'm trying to save him. #RadazzHearns— *discoveringMe* (@leiannbwrytes) August 13, 2015