Evidence continues to mount against deeming the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Tyre King by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer, justified.
Officer Bryan Mason and the Columbus Police Department maintain the youth turned and pointed a strikingly realistic BB gun as he fled from the spot the cop had detained King and several other boys, but the official story has been unraveling ever since. Given the department’s proclivity for firing first and not bothering with questions later, it’s necessary to examine compelling evidence Columbus police run roughshod over young, black lives.
Why did Officer Bryan Mason use deadly force against a 13-year-old boy under five feet tall who weighed less than 100 pounds?
Although it would be simple to blame the child, that would dismiss an overwhelming mountain of additional factors surrounding the fatal shooting.
Two of the more damning and likely telling details about the September 14th shooting came from eyewitness, Demetrius Braxton, who has since been charged with the armed robbery which led to the shooting.
Mason stopped the small group of youths when reports of an armed robbery were called into emergency dispatch — even though the supposed victim told police he didn’t want to “mess with it over ten dollars.” After being ordered to the ground by the officer, Braxton explained,
“We got down, but my friend got up and ran … [and] when he ran, the cop shot him.”
An independent forensic pathologist hired by the child’s family effectually confirmed King had been shot by the officer while he was fleeing. Studying measurements, number, and various characteristics of the 13-year-old’s wounds, any one of which could have been fatal, the pathologist found:
“Based on the location and direction of the wound paths, it is more likely than not that Tyre King was in the process of running away from the shooter or shooters when he suffered all three gunshot wounds.”
Before his arrest and soon after the incident, Braxton posted a comment on a thread concerning the shooting death of his friend, stating immediately after Mason shot King, he eyed his young victim and called him a
Then contemptuously turned to Braxton and repeated the “stupid n**ger” slur.
A credible source close to the case exclusively spoke with The Free Thought Project and relayed 19-year-old Braxton had not deviated from that account — firmly insisting Mason shot King for fleeing, not pointing the BB gun, and the officer had, indeed, used the racial slur.
Racism, in fact, has been a longstanding issue for the Columbus Police Department — evidencing a sharp divide along color lines, even between officers, which lends credence to the idea a white officer wouldn’t necessarily restrain himself against using fatal force against minorities.
Indeed, police in Columbus kill minorities at an astronomically higher rate than other departments around the country — and Mason, himself, was once cleared in the of killing an African American man, John E. Kaufmann, who posed an imminent threat to another civilian.
In fact, Columbus police have been repeatedly investigated by the Department of Justice as well as state agencies for allegations of racism and a pattern of unjustified and excessive force. For a report published in 2000, which was ultimately dropped by request from the mayor of the city, the DOJ investigated over 300 civil complaints, lawsuits, and other documents, and found:
“Our investigation indicates that incidents of police misconduct in Columbus frequently share many common elements. Many of the victims of excessive force, false arrest or charges, and/or an improper search are, at the time when the misconduct occurs, carrying out some ordinary, routine daily activity (either not violating the law or committing some minor infraction). Misconduct often is triggered by the officer’s perception that the victim in some way disrespected the officer, although often the victim’s conduct in fact is relatively or completely innocuous. Victims frequently are African American, or are young, female, or lower income whites. The officers involved in the misconduct many times have a history of complaints against them, and fail to report accurately to their superiors what transpired in the incident (changing the facts to portray the victim as responsible for the arrest, the use of force, and/or the search).”
Officer Bryan Mason, portrayed in the mainstream press as a saint who once saved a child of the same age and race as King, who tried to hang himself, made only the reports’ footnotes for the no less than 50 civilian complaints for excessive force and ‘inappropriate’ language — the moderate majority of which were filed by African Americans. One such incident, in which Mason was also cleared of wrongdoing, involved a 22-year-old black man who exited his vehicle and began running away from the scene of a traffic stop — but the officer shot him. Mason claimed the man pointed a firearm in his direction and thus feared for his life — but the man, who survived the cop’s gunshot to his hip, claimed he never did so.
All complaints against Mason cleared him of any wrongdoing — but one caveat must be considered: Columbus police continue to investigate themselves while propagating an atmosphere of blatant racism and protectionism.
At one time, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) negotiated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) behind the scenes to arrange for the department to have a Civilian Review Board established to handle the high volume of complaints. However, Columbus’ incoming Mayor Michael B. Coleman — somewhat ironically the city’s first African-American mayor — refused to establish the independent review panel with any permanence, forcing it to disband with the end of his term.
Interestingly, Coleman’s fourth and final term in office ended on January 1, 2016.
Police have quite the penchant for finding their colleagues perpetually guiltless of any misconduct — whether minor or egregious — and make life a living hell for insiders who come forward to say otherwise. This self-protective, self-affirming culture is most often referred to as the Thin Blue Line. In examining the issue of police violence, the Blue Line constitutes perhaps the most nefarious obstacle to significant and effective reform — thus it is often cited as a core reason for increasing calls to abolish police, altogether.
With this in mind, the Columbus Division of Police — despite Coleman’s pledge to reform CPD in 2000 as conditional to the DOJ dropping legal action — appears never to have bothered reforming itself, after all.
An investigation of workplace racial discrimination by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, concerning allegations by two African American officers against white Sgt. Eric Moore, attest to not only a profoundly embedded culture of racism in the department, but tolerance for and acceptance of it.
Moore used racial slurs against the officers and later threatened to kill them — but Columbus police allowed complaints from Officer Eric Cornett and a black sergeant to languish virtually untouched for over a year, the Commission found, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
Moore, then a supervisor, repeatedly referred to black people as “apes,” and once said of the officers,
“Them two n**gers, I need to take their monkey asses out back and kill them.”
One officer heard of the threat in April 2014, but failed to inform any superior officers. It wasn’t until September that same year white Officer Wesley Sorrell finally came forward — but the department failed to do much of anything in response — neither providing protection for Cornett and his family, nor sufficiently disciplining Sorrell for failing to report the death threat.
“The existence and failure to act to remove a threat to life or limb is the pinnacle of intolerable situations,” said the Commission.
“Evidence indicates a member of management ignored the initial race complaints,” the report asserted, “indicating it is the cultural norm for the department and putting up with racial pejoratives from fellow officers is required to perform police duties.”
Still, while the subject of a review, Moore remained a paid and active member of the force. Officer Karl Shaw sought a promotion to the narcotics task force headed by more, but discouraged from applying for the job by several white officers. According to the Dispatch, Moore told another officer via text Shaw had ‘better not’ apply for the narcotics job.
“Despite being under investigation for the racist death threat, Sgt. Moore was permitted to run the hiring process,” wrote the Civil Rights Commission. “He used this authority to deliberately pass over [Officer Karl Shaw] and other African-Americans, despite their seniority, in order for him to select a white officer he wanted for the position.”
Moore has now been suspended and will be recommended for termination by Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs — the same chief who failed to address concerns for safety voiced directly to her by Shaw after he learned of the death threat.
Attorney Fred Gittes, who represents Shaw and Cornett, was appalled by the department’s failure to respond to legitimate complaints — even from its own officers.
“It is astonishing that an officer accused of making a death threat — a potential hate crime — would be permitted to retain his gun and badge” for any length of time, Gittes told the Dispatch.
“A color line apparently is still alive and well in the Columbus police division. Race matters and it shouldn’t.”
No, Moore is not Mason — but they worked in the Columbus Police Department at the same time these allegations of extreme racism happened and were exposed. Considering Braxton insists Mason, himself, made a racial slur after killing a 13-year-old boy, it would seem that culture made quite the impression on the officer.
If Columbus police stoke the racial divide, even from behind The Thin Blue Line, imagine how they must view the civilian minority population.
In its 2000 report, one of the issues the DOJ discovered in Columbus was a restrictive definition of the use of force — meaning officers were permitted to use more force than would be ordinarily allowed in other cities. Simply put, officers wouldn’t have to report excessive force if the department did not deem it excessive force in the first place.
Has that modus operandi continued unabated into the present?
An investigation in 2014 by the Columbus Free Press after it obtained FBI statistics on police killings in 2012, which are generally considered so unreliable due to no mandate requiring departments to report all such figures, found the Columbus police are one of the most trigger-happy departments in the country.
That year, according to the Free Press, the city’s cops “killed as many fleeing suspects” as the departments in the combined states of “Connecticut, Idaho, Vermont, Delaware, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota.”
In fact, Columbus police killed more people in 2012 than departments in Boston, Buffalo, Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Seattle — combined.
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The tragedy of Tyre King extends well beyond his killing. Mason pulled the trigger ending the child’s young life early, but Braxton still could be charged with his murder, since it occurred during the commission of a crime — a crime the victim never wanted pursued to begin with.
Mason almost certainly won’t face charges for this highly questionable killing — because, after all, he stands on the white side of Columbus’ Thin Blue Line.