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By Jasmyne A. Cannick
I don’t know what it is about George Floyd and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Well–yes, I do. They still employ a bunch of racist police officers and they ain’t all white either.
Most recently it was the officer who shared the despicable “You take my breath away” Valentine meme mocking the death of George Floyd. An act, that I will add, has now concluded with the recommendation of termination for the officer in question (who I hear is Sergeant Rudy Barillas) by LAPD Chief Michel Moore and a referral to a Board of Rights disciplinary hearing. While we are pleased with this, we also hope that Commander David Kowalski is next on the list for what we understand to be his decision to sit on the initial complaint about the meme for several days until I made it public. That’s not leadership. That’s misconduct.
But that was last week and this week–as we approach the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd–we have become aware of a pair of LAPD Central Division officers, one, who told a Black man that George Floyd died because he was a “dope head” who “overdosed.”
On May 10, 2021, at approximately 3 a.m. in the morning, two male patrol officers approached 31-year-old Cory McLean at Stanford Avenue and Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles for an alleged tint violation. According to Cory, a resident of downtown Los Angeles, he’d just dropped off a Lyft passenger and was just sitting in his car, a 2014 white BMW 5-series.
I said that Cory was allegedly approached by these officers for the tint of his windows because it became clear pretty quickly that this was another case of “Being in a Car while Black”–which should not be confused with “Driving while Black” or “Being a Passenger while Black.”
In the over 9-minute video–that never shows the officer’s faces or Cory’s but captures the audio of their interaction–when first approached by the officers Cory calmly asks, “ What’s going on? What is going on? I’ve never been in trouble with the law a day in my life–not one day in my life. Why now? I mean, I’m being pulled out of the car. I was not–you didn’t see me moving in the car or anything. Those cars all have the exact same tint as me. Y’all are asking how long I’ve had the car. What I’m doing–all this extra stuff.”
Cory then goes on to explain that he’s shaking because the last time he was pulled over his tinted windows by police officers it was at gunpoint.
The officer’s proceed to ask Cory the seemingly standard questions asked of Black men pulled over or pulled out of a car–were you smoking tonight?
And even though Cory answers no, and repeats that he just dropped off a Lyft passenger–the officer smells weed.
My guess is that it had something to do with their close proximity to a dispensary or just the fact that they are in the state of California.
And as if Cory had not just disclosed the fact that he was nervous because the last interaction he had with officers involved him being pulled over at gunpoint–the officer can be heard commenting that Cory seems “a little jumpy and nervous.”
Yeah he does.
From there, a detainment that originated allegedly for Cory’s tinted windows goes into how the officers have been out there for nine years and that the weed shop brings a lot of problems to the area.
“People are getting robbed over here. Some guy got shot in the chest down the street right there, they jacked his car, they shot him in the chest. People out here get bumped up and then they come out with a bunch of weed and gangsters or whatever wait out here and will jack them and takeoff.”
The officers proceed to tell Cory that now they have to check to make sure the car he’s in belongs to him, there are no wants in the system, the car isn’t stolen, that his license is valid, and that he has a “valid” reason for being where he is.
Tinted windows my ass.
Being in a car while Black.
Remember that earlier this year, a report from Advancement Project California and Push L.A. analyzed public data from 2018 to 2020, found that Black drivers in Los Angeles are five times more likely to be pulled over by the LAPD and nearly nine times more likely to be arrested for traffic violations than white drivers.
Cory is understandably in his feelings about the entire encounter and makes the mistake of trying to talk to the officers like they care about their actions or his feelings.
The officers sound irritated, not at all interested in Cory’s concerns about how these minor stops and or calls often lead to the death of People of Color, stating that they were doing their job and that there is violent crime in Central Division, etc. At one point in the video, an officer says “Whatever, I don’t care.”
You can hear Cory passionately trying to explain why it is not okay to just randomly pull people over and run their information.
“I come from the suburbs. So, I was raised a certain way and I think all of its bullshit. Even my parents–they think if they see a random car and don’t know who it is they’re gonna call the police. I think that’s stupid because then they’re gonna call the police, someone come out there, it can escalate to someone get shot and killed and now on their conscience. they’re gonna feel like they called them for what? The same reason George Floyd did what–stole something. Somebody came out and now he’s dead.”
That’s when you hear one of the officers say, “He’s a dope head. He overdosed.”
The officer then doubles down and says again, “He overdosed.”
For the record–George Floyd died while being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
However, that neither here nor there. What you don’t hear is his partner apologizing for the comment or saying anything to his partner about his unwarranted and unsolicited opinion on who George Floyd was and how he died. A jury did convict Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, of murdering George Floyd.
As Cory tries to leave, he asks for the officer’s information and this is where it gets even shadier.
Cory was about to leave without getting a ticket. But when he asks for the officer’s contact information–all bets are off and the officer asks him if he wants a ticket for his tint and that he can put his contact information on that.
This is why the LAPD continues to have the reputation that it has–because its officers–including the newer ones–are still engaged in the same corrupt behavior that’s plagued the department since its inception.
So I want to know how Chief Moore is going to deal with these two officers. Will it be a flatout denial from LAPDHQ? A warning and slap on the wrist? Or will Chief Moore recommend these two for termination and to be sent before a Board of Rights. I’m rooting for the latter. The department doesn’t need these types of officers. Nip that ish in the bud. Send a message to their colleagues that this type of corruption and misconduct won’t be tolerated, coddled, or covered up in today’s LAPD.
As for Cory, bravo for having the wherewithal to record your interaction with those officers.
Jasmyne A. Cannick