When we talk about the idea that police departments and policing itself as we know it in America need to be dismantled and reimagined from the ground up it can seem like a daunting and insurmountable goal. But if you haven’t as of yet seen enough evidence for why it’s a project that must at the very least be tried consider a recent story about the Joliet Police Department in Illinois. We hear a lot about the “one bad apple” defense when police kill people. Less talked about is what happens to the very very rare good apple in the bunch. (Or neutral apple at the very least.)
USA Today reported this week on a sergeant named Javier Esqueda a twenty seven year veteran of the department who they had previously featured in a series about police whistleblowers. You won’t be surprised to hear that in the rare cases when a cop decides to break ranks with his fellow gang members they often turn on them and attempt to ruin their life. That’s happening to Esqueda now.
In July of 2020 Esqueda shared with media a video of his fellow police officers abusing a Black man named Eric Lurry who was handcuffed at the time and in medical distress. The cops slapped him and put a baton in his mouth and took him to the police station instead of a hospital despite having every reason go believe that he was suffering from a drug overdose. Lurry would die a few hours later.
None of the cops in question including one who turned off the audio on his camera after another slapped Lurry and called him a bitch were given anything more than a slap on the wrist in terms of punishment. For his disloyalty to the gang Esqueda however is now facing numerous charges and up to twenty years in prison for a series a bullshit violations the gang collaborators in the local prosecutors office cooked up to make him look bad and take the focus off their own illegal behavior. Mainly Esqueda supposedly improperly accessed the video footage they claim.
On top of that members of his cop union (as a reminder cop unions should not be considered a part of any type of labor movement as their goals are antithetical to those of workers) just voted to expel him.
If you’re wondering if the letter written by the union explaining their vote was histrionic baby shit yes of course it was.
“The Executive Board finds cause that you engaged in conduct that is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Association, and your conduct is deemed so reprehensible that removal from membership is appropriate,” it read in part.
So reprehensible he needs to be cast out.
Earlier this summer Esqueda was the recipient of the first Lamplighter Award for Moral Courage in Law Enforcement given by the Lamplighter Project an advocacy group for police whistleblowers.
“The world would be a darker place without lamplighters like Sergeant Esqueda,” the group wrote upon giving him the award. “Lamplighters not only shed light on corruption, injustice, and misconduct, but serve as shining examples to other enforcement officers around the country who bear witness to violations of their oath.”
Esqueda’s story is indeed an example to other officers around the country. I’m just not sure it’s the type of example they have in mind.
Here’s another story you may have missed from Pennsylvania in which two teenagers are being charged with the murder of a young girl in August of this year after a fight broke out at a local football game. Here’s how the Philadelphia Inquirer leads off the story:
“Two teenagers who prosecutors say started a gunfight outside a Sharon Hill high school football game that led to the fatal police shooting of 8-year-old Fanta Bility in August have been charged with murder in connection with her death.”
Now here’s a description of the facts from assistant DA Tanner Rouse
The basis for charging the two teens “is very simple…They were attempting to kill one another that night, and as a direct result a little girl is dead.”
That “direct result” is warping reality worse than even the typical use of the exonerative tense does. The tense that’s always used to remove agency or responsibility from police whenever they kill someone.
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