Justine Damond, a white Australian woman, was wrongfully shot and killed by Minneapolis police last Saturday, which is incredibly heartbreaking and further proves that United States law enforcement needs to get a handle on this ongoing brutality.
However, Damond’s death also highlights the very poignant and frustrating racial disparity that exists in this country.
The attorney for Damond’s family, Robert Bennett, said on Thursday that this woman was “the most innocent victim” of a police shooting that he has ever seen, Mic reports.
“I’m not saying Philando [Castile] wasn’t innocent too, or that Frank Baker wasn’t innocent,” Bennett — who also represented Baker and the family of Castile — noted. “But here is someone who called the police and was trying to stop someone from being hurt … and ends up being shot in her pajamas.”
Damond, was indeed, innocent. She was shot when she walked up to the driver’s side window of a patrol car after she had called police to report a possible assault occurring near her residence. Officer Mohamed Noor reportedly opened fire when his partner was startled by the loud noise outside of the car.
But, to assert that this woman is the “most innocent” victim of police brutality, when women and men of color are being killed left and right for also doing everyday activities, is baffling and a huge slap in the face to all the victims of police violence and their families.
Additionally, after Damond’s killing, white people have come out in droves to speak out on her behalf and advocate for police reform, according to Mic.
Yet, these same people were nowhere to be found after each wrongful killing of a person of color and specifically after the death of Castile, which occurred in the same state.
“Some white people don’t feel the tragedy until one of them is murdered,” said Black Lives Matter leader Chauntyll Allen, Mic reports.
Adding insult to injury, many of the black victims of police violence were children, including Tamir Rice, who was only 12 years old when he was killed in Cleveland, Ohio, for playing with a toy gun, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was just 7 and asleep on her family’s sofa when police shot her in the head.
For Bennett to suggest that Damond was somehow more “innocent” than these young victims indicates that her race somehow plays a role in how he discerns virtue, which is disgusting, to say the least.
As an attorney, he will likely find a clever way to clarify his statements in an effort to quell the backlash, but the damage has been done.
If other lawyers who have represented minority victims of police brutality share the same mindset as Bennett, then it's no wonder why so many officers get off scot-free after killing people of color in cold blood.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Stephen Govel Photography