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NYPD Lieutenant Apologizes to the Wrong People for the Wrong Things

“The cop in me wants to kick my own ass”

According to NBC News, Lt. Robert Cattani sent an e-mail to his colleagues apologizing for kneeling during a protest.

“[It] goes against every principle and value that I stand for.” — Lt. Robert Cattani

I’m sure it leaves people puzzled about the values he’s speaking about. I don’t think Eric Garner would understand those values, either. Eric Garner was, of course, killed by an NYPD officer on July 17, 2014, for selling loose cigarettes. That was six years ago, and, today, Garner isn’t with us to share these insights that Cattani has the blessing to have.

“I know that it was wrong and something I will be shamed and humiliated about for the rest of my life,” Cattani wrote in his e-mail.

On July 6, 2019, Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African American man was stopped by Jeronimo Yanez, a Hispanic-American police officer. This was in Minnesota.

Castile was driving with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and their four-year-old daughter when they were stopped.

In the events that unfolded, Castile told the officer that he had a registered firearm, to which the officer replied: “Don’t reach for it.”

What follows in quick succession is that line, repeated.

Then, in a fraction of a second, Yanez shot into the car at Castile seven times at close range, hitting him five times. In front of his four-year-old daughter and next to his wife. He was murdered in front of his family.

The officer, standing over Castile, just after the seven shots, repeatedly yells: “Don’t move! Don’t Move!”

Castile died in about twenty minutes.

Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her bed with her boyfriend.

She was a front-line medical professional.

At 12:30 a.m., three police officers barged into her home, knocking down her front door. No more than twenty feet away, Breonna was asleep.

These officers were executing a search warrant for suspected drug trafficking. Upon entry, the officers shot into the apartment:

“More than 25 bullets hit objects in the home’s living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, hallway, both bedrooms in Taylor and Walker’s apartment and into the adjacent home, where a 5-year-old child and pregnant mother lived,” the lawsuit alleges.

Breonna was shot eight times. She was sleeping.

The officers did not knock or identify themselves before entering the apartment.

Murdered. Gone.

Maybe Lieutenant Cattani is confused.

On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old African-American boy, was carrying a replica toy Airsoft gun. They shoot plastic pellet balls.

A caller to the Cleveland police department reported:

“There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing it at everybody. He’s sitting on a swing right now, but he’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. He’s probably a juvenile, you know?”

Almost immediately on arrival, Timothy Loehmann, a 26-year-old police officer, shot him twice and killed him.

I mean immediately. By the time Loehmann came out of the police car, Tamir was already shot. It later turned out that Loehmann was emotionally unstable and unfit for duty according to his previous job as a police officer in the Cleveland suburb of Independence.

Strange how those things fall through the cracks sometimes.

I’m not sure Tamir Rice was even old enough to understand what values were yet.

While the NYPD Lieutenant is attempting to win his colleagues back over, these people are gone. There are a lot more, they all had names.

Judges don’t simply look at crime and punishment. Oftentimes, they’ll look to the future of the person being sentenced. They look to their potential in society. When Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman in an alley, he was released from jail in three months.

Headlines and news clippings all around the internet don’t label him a rapist; they label him an “All-American swimmer who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman”.

When Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner, he took into consideration that the sentencing may have a “severe impact” on “Turner’s life”.

Breonna Taylor didn’t get that consideration.

George Floyd didn’t get that consideration.

Philando Castile didn’t get that consideration.

Tamir Rice didn’t get that consideration.

Eric Garner didn’t get that consideration.

Trayvon Martin didn’t get that consideration.

Ahmaud Arbery didn’t get that consideration.

These people are all gone. They didn’t make it to the part where they’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Those lives missing above are the result of the values you so proudly shout over e-mail. These people, and many more, will never be able to value anything in their lives ever again. Their families are missing something they will never be able to recover.

You don’t need to sleep thinking that somebody might barge into your home and shoot you a dozen times in the middle of the night. You don’t need to fear for your life when you go out for a jog. You don’t need to worry about being choked to death.

Nobody is going to kneel on your neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds, ignoring you when you’re saying: “Please, I can’t breathe.”

You are the reason that defunding the police is necessary. If you haven’t killed innocent people in your career as a protector of your community, then you have allowed the killers to run rampant within your unit under the badge that you’re supposed to honor.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter which one happened or how — because you’re directly responsible for the lives lost.

Your honor, your respect, your values; they aren’t gained out of a fraternization you share with the killers in your unit. They’re a privilege earned by serving your community. The community decides whether or not you’ve earned it. The community decides. Not you. Not your colleagues.

I think the streets are calling.

They want you gone.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries: Moumj@berkeley.edu

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