This story did not receive too much attention prior to the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and now as a result of that overwhelmingly tragic event, I am afraid that this story will simply fade into oblivion. In my opinion, this is yet another example of the out of control violence that has gripped America. Initially, it would seem that this story is just another example of the out of control American police community, and the perverse belief that the act of fleeing the police justifies the use of deadly force. However, I think that this story is representative of much more than an out of control police community. This story illustrates the level of violence that is now seen as acceptable in American life.
The known details on this incident remain very confusing. On November 29th, 2012 at around 10:30 P.M. the Cleveland Police began a high speed pursuit which ended in the deaths of 43 year old Timothy Russell and 30 Malissa Williams. At times up to 30 police were involved in the chase which made its way through downtown Cleveland. Fully 5 minutes before Russell and Williams were shot, the police were ordered to cease the high speed pursuit. The dispatcher asked whether the order to cease the chase had been heard and one officer is reported to have replied: “Yeah, but this is in our patch here, so that’s why we’re just gonna try to see what’s going on.” Five minutes later Russell and Williams were dead. Russell was shot 23 times and Williams was shot 24 times.
It may have been a bad muffler which prompted this incident. The chase began when two police officers reported that Russell and Williams fired shots at the police headquarters in downtown Cleveland. Police immediately began pursuing the vehicle and for whatever reason, Russell and Williams did not stop. No firearm or shell casings were found in the vehicle being driven by Russell and Williams. No weapon or shell casings were found in the parking lot of the police headquarters where the incident began. Relatives of Russell have stated that it is likely that it was not gunshots that police heard, but rather sound of Russell’s 1979 Malibu backfiring. David Russell, Jr. has said that a few months earlier he gave the older car to his brother Timothy and that it did have a bad muffler. Whether that is what police heard or not will never be known. What is known is that police were ordered to cease a high speed pursuit, they refused, and two people died after being shot at 137 times. The FBI is now investigating this shooting.
Something is wrong with America. The level of violence that is accepted as part of our daily lives has reached toxic levels. Our police shoot us without knowing the facts of a situation. We shoot each other because someone cut us off in traffic or because we think that the music coming from a car full of teenagers is too loud. An affluent 20 year old can wake up in the morning and decide that he needs to shoot his mother in the face, and then murder 20 little children and the adults who were trying to protect them. There has always been violence. There always will be violence. That will never change. However, something has changed in this country. I do not want to worry that my grandson will be shot while at school. I do not want to worry that my son will be shot because he does not immediately obey the police. I do not want to worry that I will be shot while I am at work. I am tired of this anonymous violence that has no justification. My spirit is tired. Something is wrong with this country. This violence is killing some of us but every single day that it continues it is wounding all of us.