At the beginning of this month, we reported on the police shooting of 29-year-old Jalen Randle in Houston. Since then, the account by Houston police on what led to the shooting, which occurred on April 27, hasn’t changed. Police said they were trying to arrest Randle on three felony warrants when he got into an SUV someone else was driving. The driver failed to stop when the police tried to pull the vehicle over and Randle exited the vehicle holding a bag. That’s when an officer immediately shot him in the back of his neck. Randle later died at the hospital.
Here’s what I wrote in my original report:
So, just to recap: Randle got into a car. For a short while, the car Randle wasn’t driving failed to stop for police. Once it did stop, Randle got out holding a bag and a cop shot and killed him. Either there’s a lot of story missing between the moment Randle got out of the car and the moment he was shot—or a cop murdered this man.
(Obviously, we can’t call a cop who hasn’t been convicted of murder a murderer, but the sentiment remains.)
Well, according to ABC 13, the cops aren’t indicating that there’s any story missing here. But this story, as egregious as it is, is easily defendable, according to the president of the Houston Police Officer’s Union, Doug Griffith.
“We’ve got units behind him in a chase and we have officers stopping and getting out in front of him, he obviously knew what the deal was,” Griffith cop-splained. “All he had to do was comply. Sadly, it was a horrible outcome and I feel for the family. But, again, had he just complied, we would not be in this situation right now. I think it was completely justified with the fact that we are looking at an armed suspect. He’s got multiple felonies for aggravated offenses and then on top of that, he’s got two objects, one in each hand that are both black and as he turns, the officers can’t wait to find out if that’s a gun or not.”
So, just to recap: A person having “multiple felonies” is enough reason, in and of itself, for cops to be ready to shoot to kill. Trained police officers who can’t tell the difference between bags and guns are justified for shooting regardless, but an untrained civilian given a split second to comply is at fault because “all he had to do was comply.” And for cops, even the most minuscule chance that they might be in danger justifies them shooting to kill without taking even a second to appropriately assess the threat.
Officers reported that a bag Randle was holding had a gun inside, and if he had opened that bag and reached inside, not many people would be arguing the cops had no reason to shoot. But Randle didn’t reach for a gun. He didn’t pose any immediate threat to the police. And it appears he was never given sufficient time to comply with police demands.
“In a matter of seconds, as soon as he got out of the car, he was shot. He never got a chance to even hear commands,” said Randle’s father Warren Randle, who has seen the recently-released body camera footage of the shooting.
This video is graphic in nature. Please exercise discretion when viewing it.
“He’ll never get to go to his daughter’s graduation. It’s tomorrow from Pre-K. He won’t be able to be there. It’s terrible,” Warren said.
The officer who shot Randle has been identified as Officer Shane Privette and Randle’s family members have set their sights on getting him charged in the shooting.
“This guy has to be eliminated,” Warren said. “You can’t have people like that on the street. We need police officers of course to protect and serve, but not to kill.”
Randle’s mother, Tiffany Rachal, echoed similar sentiments.
“I am at a point now where I am tired of crying. Now it’s time for me to fight and stand up for what’s right,” she said.
“At the end of the day, my son is gone, this (officer) is out and he needs to be charged,” Rachal went on to say.
Unfortunately, when it comes to shootings like this, cops far more often than not get the benefit of the doubt. They give Black people every reason to fear them and yet their go-to justification gets to be, “I was in fear for my life.”
Anyway, according to ABC, “The Harris County DA’s office says this case will be brought to a grand jury as all officer-involved shootings are.”
So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.