The story of Trayvon Martin’s death has gripped the nation’s attention for much of the last two weeks. While questions abound in Sanford, Florida as details slowly trickle out, Trayvon’s death has also prompted closer examinations of other, similar shootings around the country.
In Pasadena, California 19-year-old Kendrec McDade was shot and killed by police after they responded to a 911 caller who said he had been robbed at gunpoint by McDade and another young black man. According to police, McDade was seen reaching towards his waistline when officers opened fire from a close distance. He died after being transported to a local hospital, and no gun or weapon of any kind was found at the scene or on his person.
Pasadena police arrested Oscar Carillo, the man who called 911, and charged him with manslaughter for allegedly lying to police about the perpetrators having a gun. Local activists are now calling for an investigation by the Department of Justice, raising concerns about the legal regime that is giving rise to “shoot-to-kill” incidents:
Local black leaders said the event highlights the need for reforms in the Pasadena Police Department, and have called for the Department of Justice to investigate.
“With African-American teens, the perception is that they are all gangbangers, or they are all packing,” said Joe Brown, president of the Pasadena chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “It does increase the instances of shoot-to-kill with law enforcement, and Pasadena is no exception.”
In Wisconsin, a second story has local leaders drawing comparisons with Trayvon as well. Bo Morrison, a 20-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a homeowner after he ended up on the homeowner’s porch while fleeing a police break-up of a garage party next door. The shooter, Adam Kind, was not arrested thanks to Wisconsin’s newly expanded “Castle Doctrine” laws, which, much like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, protect citizens who use deadly force if they feel threatened. Morrison, like McDade and Trayvon Martin, was unarmed when he was killed.
In each case, local leaders have begun campaigns to demand justice and changes in the legal system. In Pasadena, a group of civil rights leaders are demanding a meeting with Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez to discuss the exact details of the shooting, and in Wisconsin, over 150 people rallied in nearby West Bend demanding the state’s Castle Doctrine law be repealed. And this week, demonstrators in D.C. protested these so-called “kill at will” laws.