Sure enough, it was awful.
New Year's Day, 2 AM, Oakland, CA. Apparently, there was a fistfight on a train in the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (known to current and former residents of the San Francisco Bay Area as BART), and the BART Police (a publicly paid for, but privately managed security force) came in to break it up, wind it down, hand out citations, whatever.
In the video, there appear to be four or five of these cops (who appear to be either all-white or mostly white, and there's at least one woman in the crew), and three or four African-American males. The young men are a bit hostile, but all of them are seated. One stands up and attempts to talk to the police. From the video, it's unclear what he is saying (the video was shot using a cellphone, from inside the train with the doors closed). The cops bring him down to the ground, face down, and force his arms behind his back. One of the cops puts his knee over the man's neck and head to further restrain him. There are three cops holding him down at this point, while the others are standing back, watching both the man on the ground and the other young men sitting watching their friend. One of the cops holding the young man down is facing the camera.
He stands up, unholsters his gun, and shoots the prone man in the back.
The gunshot is audible on the video.
The bullet ricochets off of the platform floor back into the man's body. He is pronounced dead at the scene. The BART police attempt to confiscate every video camera they can find. They miss at least two.
The streets of Oakland erupted in riots during what was supposed to be a peaceful protest march on Wednesday, January 7th. Some who suffered property damage at the hands of the rioters weren't surprised, nor even terribly hurt, by the injuries done to their property. African-Americans in Oakland are getting tired of hearing about their young men being shot by the police. If a policeman shoots a civilian, he is put on administrative leave, and expected to turn in his badge and gun. If a civilian shoots another civilian, they are arrested and put in jail. If a civilian shoots a cop, other cops might kill them and claim self-defense (not that I believe everything James Ellroy writes).
While the organizers of the protest and even the victim's family decried the violence, I can understand it. While it may be counterproductive, it really depends on how long you've had to deal with living in a kind of siege state. Oakland has had it's murder rate go rather high in recent years, and one of the usual complaints by the locals is that the cops will come when it suits them, but not when it scares them. Black-on-white crime gets the full-court press, but black-on-black crime is routinely ignored or downplayed. Interestingly enough, in the protest this week, there was a large Latino contingent along with the African-American crowd. When it comes to the police, they agree on who the problem often is.
The police officer's name is