Just over a year ago, in Minneapolis, a police officer, and the culture of limitless police power, took the life of a man. On a whim. Without regard to his civil rights, or the effect such a choice would have on the people with whom his life intersected. It was a crime perpetrated by a man, a cop, who felt he was above the law. A cop, who most felt at the time, was a good officer, with community service and the safety of others as his priorities. We were wrong. George Floyd’s last words resonate with us all.
I can’t breathe.
Brian Peterson, 39, used Grindr to meet men. He met a man in July of 2019 who he correctly gaged, through texts and a voice mail message, to be an adult, black man around his same age. That man was a police officer, pretending unconvincingly, to be a young teen. Brian was arrested for meeting the adult male. For a man who has not come out to his family, to also be falsely charged with seeking children to sexually abuse… It was too much. Brian had to make a tough choice.
He couldn’t breathe.
A man in Tennessee was arrested for downloading CP to his computer. He denies having done so and sought to cooperate with the police to clear his name. His aging father reached out to me for support. This is a federal case, so the excessive bond required the security of both his and his parent’s properties. He was barely able to get house arrest release while awaiting trial. He is unable to leave the house, even to walk to his mailbox. He is unable to work, and financially unable not to. He is currently being pressured to take a plea bargain, or the prosecutor has threatened to revoke his bail release sending him to jail to await his trial.
He can’t breathe.
There is a man in Oregon, who has served his sentence for a victimless, police crafted and induced ‘crime’. His appeal overturned the conviction. He awaits retrial because, again, he refuses to plead guilty to a crime he did not intend or commit. He has been told he must remain on the sex offender registry until the second trial is over. He has been told he must return to a probationary state while awaiting trial. His life has been on hold for many years now, there is no end in sight.
We can’t breathe.
There was a man in Washington, arrested for a victimless, police crafted and induced crime, who jumped bail. In the state of Washington, police proactive stings have caused 8 suicides since inception in 2015. To date, of the 294 men arrested, the statistics for WA state are that 75% take a plea. 22% who brave a court trial, face a 95% conviction rate and an average sentence of 74 months (about 6 years) per conviction. This man decided he could not face such a future. Carlos Rodriguez, the lead detective, and creator of these stings, noted in a memo he wrote on November 9th, 2015 that “even though our suspect is deceased in that case, we are still following up on other matters”. Rodriguez then proceeds to ask Operation Underground Railroad, the recipient of this email, for an additional $30,000 to fund his next proactive sting.
The man referred to in Rodriguez email, who jumped bail, was eventually located in California. The police surrounded him as he took his own life. His sister was present and watched helplessly.
She can’t breathe.