Racial profiling should
On April 7 in Cincinnati, a white police
officer named Stephen Roach shot and killed an unarmed black teenager wanted
on non-violent misdemeanors
such as traffic violations.
Because of rioting, the mayor of the city
had to impose a citywide 8 p.m. curfew on his constituents. Dozens of people
were injured and more than 800
arrests were made during the worst racial
unrest the city had seen since the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther
The facts of the case are absolutely revolting.
Officer Roach was being tried for negligent homicide and obstruction of
The homicide charge is obvious — he was
being tried for murdering unarmed Timothy Thomas. But why was he being
charged with obstruction? Because
Officer Roach told the authorities three
glossy yet different versions of his story before sticking to one account
of the night's happenings.
Initially, he "had no idea why" the gun
went off, but it did. Story number two includes Thomas startling Officer
Roach from around a corner, causing him to
fire. All of his stories were false and
proven to be so by police cruiser cameras.
When Officer Roach realized he was caught
on tape, he ended up telling the truth: he was chasing Thomas down a dark
alley, with his finger on the trigger,
and fatally shot him. Other police officers
had also been chasing Thomas. They kept their weapons holstered and testified
they did not feel the need to draw
their guns on Thomas.
The case was tried before Hamilton County
Judge Ralph Winkler. Officer Roach specifically requested a trial with
This was a very strategic move indeed,
as Judge Winkler just so happens to be a white man as well. After a seven-day
trial, Judge Winkler acquitted Officer
Roach of both counts. He believed that
Officer Roach was justified in killing Thomas, and that the two incorrect
versions of the story did not significantly
affect the investigation.
How could this happen? How could justice
be so obviously attacked in this manner? Nothing could bring Thomas back
to life, but at least justice could be
Thomas was the 15th Black man to be killed
by Cincinnati police since 1995. I guess I had fleeting hopes that racial
profiling toward blacks would subside
during our national crisis. Unfortunately,
it is alive and well in Cincinnati.
How many black people like Thomas have
to die before our nation can defeat racial profiling?
I suppose the black population of Cincinnati
will continue to dwindle. At this rate, the police force will be able to
just kill all of Cincinnati's black citizens, and
why not? They obviously face no legal
resistance or punishment.