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In this May 17, 2015 file photo, authorities investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant, in Waco, Texas. Texas officers involved in the deadly shooting outside a biker gathering in Waco had disabled the automatic setting on their rifles, and most of the dozens of shell casings found at the scene were from suspects’ guns, police said Friday, June 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson, File)

Officers responding to the biker club (not gang) shootout which killed nine and injured 18 in Waco, Texas, last month fired a total of 12 bullets, a number that stands in stark contrast to the number of bullets used by law enforcement in incidents involving unarmed Black men and women.

According to a report by The Associated Press, police officers responding to the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17 disabled the automatic firing setting on their rifles, with only three officers out of the almost two dozen firing at all for a total of 12 shots.

The Waco incident occurred about one week before Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted for the killing of two unarmed Black persons—Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams—who had been involved in a car chase back in 2012. Officers involved in the chase fired at least 137 rounds into the couple’s vehicle, and Brelo climbed onto the hood after the car had ceased to pose a threat and fired 15 rounds, striking both Russell and Williams, according to the Washington Post.

On May 30, 2012, Miami Beach police fired over 100 bullets into a car being driven by a Black man named Raymond Herisse, hitting him 16 times. In March 2015, the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office released a report clearing the officers of any legal wrongdoing in the incident, which was sparked by Herisse’s apparent drunk driving, and which left Herisse dead and four bystanders injured by police gunfire, according to the Miami Herald.

In 2006, Queens, N.Y. resident Sean Bell, an African American, was killed by five police officers who shot 50 bullets into his car. The shooting took place as Bell was leaving his bachelor party in the early morning hours of the day he was to be married to his fiancée, Nicole Paultre, according to The New York Times.

That shooting reawakened the memory of another excessive firing incident that left a Black man dead in New York—Amadou Diallo. NYPD officers fired 41 rounds at the unarmed 22-year-old in the vestibule of his apartment building in 1999, killing him.

No officers involved in the shootings of these unarmed Black persons have ever been convicted of a crime, suggesting the shootings were justified. But the relative restraint shown by officers in Waco when facing live gunmen undermines the narrative that these shootings of unarmed Blacks were simply an unfortunate function of officers operating in a stressful and potentially deadly situation, and having little time to react.


ralejandro@afro.com