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Shreveport police cleared in traffic-stop shooting

25th February 2013   ·   0 Comments

By J. Kojo Livingston
Contributing Writer

The Caddo Parish District At­torney’s office has come forth with a ruling in the police shooting of 22-year-old DeEric Bailey in August of last year. Bailey was shot to death while fleeing police during a traffic stop. Shreveport Police Department’s Internal Af­fairs cleared the two officers that were involved. The D.A.’s investigation was based mostly on the police car’s dash camera. The officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, the D.A.’s summary of the incident reads:

“The Caddo Parish District At­torney’s Office has completed its review of the officer involved shooting death of DeEric Bailey. Cpl. Hai Phan and Cpl. Jennifer Monereau acted reasonably in dealing with a dangerous and out-of-control motorist on Interstate 20 who posed an immediate threat to the occupants of the fleeing vehicle, officers at the scene and the driving public.

This unfortunate incident apparently stems from Bailey’s attempt to operate a motor vehicle at nearly four times the statutory level of impairment.”

Bailey’s family is not satisfied with the findings. His mother said, “It’s like losing him all over again. Nobody’s going to do anything about it. I lost my son over a traffic stop.” Family spokesperson Lester Smith told the La. Weekly that he was disappointed with the ruling which took nearly six months to arrive. “They did not find the officers at fault. They will be reinstated. Looking at the dash cam, the reason for them using deadly force was that he put the passenger in the car in danger. But the officers ordered the young man to lay down behind the car and ordered the young lady to lay down in the middle of I-20. All of a sudden that becomes his fault but the police laid the young man down behind the car. He was standing up side the barrier and the officer ordered him down.”

Smith wonders why other measures were not used to stop him, “These officers have tasers and everything. Looking at that film, that man could have tased DeErick, he was standing right in the door of the car. He did not have to use deadly force behind a misdemeanor traffic stop. He didn’t have to fire 16 shots at that young man.”

Smith blames Black officials such as Mayor Cedric Glover and Police Chief Willie Shaw for incidents such as these. “As long as we have Black people who won’t raise a hand or make a sound when injustice is done and they know it’s unjust, then we have to answer to a white D.A. whose only job is to find police “not guilty.” He makes the decision. We’re asking law enforcement to police law enforcement. So even if we take it to the FBI we’re dealing with some form of law enforcement former policemen, former sheriffs, some form of law enforcement. They are going to make a decision over an organization that has a code of silence…and they are going to give their own up for one Black youth?”

As far as Smith is concerned, the Bailey shooting and the D.A.’s decision are based on Bailey’s race. “My question is, why are white people so angry at us that they will shoot us own like dogs and allow their people to walk away as if nothing has happened? Why do Blacks that we have put in a position to do something about it favor what these people are doing? It’s time for Black people to stop sitting idly by and allowing these people to do what they do to our people.”

Smith says the police should “snitch” or turn in each other the same way they are asking the public to do. “They want us to have a relationship with the police department and give them information but they withhold information when it comes to one of theirs. We say, ‘You First!’ When you start giving up your people in that corrupt police department then ask us.”

Smith says he is not surprised, “I’m not disappointed in the results; I expected them to do this. I know they’re not going to bring down two of their own for one Black youth. But I felt that Black leadership should’ve taken a stand when something ain’t right and something needs to be done. When you’ve got 10 homicides and the police have been acquitted on all 10,. they don’t find nothing wrong with that? What is his role, to seek justice or to rule in favor of the police department?”

Smith says the family is conducting its own investigation. “We are requesting everything they used to make their determination. Why did he lay down behind the car? I only heard five shots and they were to the side so I’m wondering how he got shot to the back of the head? Where did that shot come from? When they showed us the film they showed us the boy already out of the car standing beside the wall with his hands cuffed. DeErick was still in the car. The tapes do not show when the initial shots may have been fired. He was going down the middle of the interstate, what caused him to careen off the road? That’s when the kids say they were getting out of the car because they were shooting in the car.”

Lloyd Thompson, president of the Shreveport chapter of the NAACP, is calling for investigations at a higher level. “Like I had said all along that once the D.A. got through with his findings we would be asking the Louisiana Attorney General as well as the U.S. Attorney to look at the case again and give the community a third and fourth opinion on the case. The internal affairs came up with a decision the D.A. came up with an opinion now we’re asking the state and the U.S. Justice Department to give the community an opinion as to whether they saw the same thing the D.A. and internal affairs office came up with.”

Thompson who initially told a reporter that he found the D.A.’s ruling acceptable, now feels that more questions need to be answered. “I saw the tape last Friday and I personally had some questions. I understand they shot 11 times and they only hit five times. I want to know why they were still shooting down the interstate at him as he was coming off the wall. Shooting down the interstate was putting more people in danger. We should have found some other way to stop him.”

Thompson’s concern is about the community’s perception of the police and D.A.’s office, “We want the community to feel good about the ruling and if we get a third and fourth opinion, that will help. People feel that every time something happens the officers are cleared. The justice department ought to say that we are going to review every police shooting in this country if a community organization will ask us to come in. This will allow people to have a clear mindset about these decisions.

Both Smith and Thompson agree that a citizen review board could help bring accountability and avoid situations like the one in Los Angeles where an ex-cop has resorted to killing because he felt the department is corrupt.

“I would support a citizen review board, says Thompson. “They realize that in Los Angeles now. They should have opened the case and talked to the man then. Now it’s too late.” Lester Smith says that a citizen review panel is essential. “The police simply cannot police themselves. What’s happening in Los Angeles is simply a case of the chickens coming home to roost. This is what happens when people feel like they have no one to turn to.”

This article was originally published in the February 25, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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