Gretna, LA -- In a case horrifyingly similar to that of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, California, a young mentally ill man by the name of Kendole Joseph was beaten to death on video by untrained and outright rabid cops. Despite the killing happening in February, and the family's repeated demands to see the surveillance footage, the video wasn't released until this week.
It was a "murder on tape" family attorney Michael Oppenheimer said during a press conference on Friday, noting that police released the video publicly before they even had the common decency to show it to the family.
Joseph's family was joined by civil rights activist Ja’Mal Green who also decried the response from police.
“We saw that surveillance video,” Green said to reporters. “It proves everything that we had been saying from the beginning. Kendole had a mental health issue and the Gretna Police Department didn’t know how to deal with it, so they killed him.”
"He was simply minding his own business," said Oppenheimer of how the incident began. "He harmed no one. He wouldn't harm a flea."
The incident happened in February when Joseph's mother called police to help get her son to the hospital as he was in the midst of a mental breakdown. However, as is the case so tragically often, when police arrived, the last thing Joseph received was help.
"His mother called on police that day asking them to help him, bring him to the hospital — not to tase and kill him," said Green.
Joseph was unarmed and had not committed any crime when police arrived. However, their mere presence was enough to frighten the young man and caused him to run. To escape what he perceived as a threat, Joseph ran into a local convenience store.
Moments later all of Joseph's fears would be justified as he found multiple 'linebacker' sized cops on top of him, pounding in his head.
Police were going to arrest Joseph for the standard resisting arrest and battery on an officer. However, after being beaten so badly, he had to be brought to the hospital where he would die only 48 hours later.
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Naturally, the Gretna police department is claiming they did everything by the book and has all but referred to themselves as heroes over the killing of Joseph.
“Officers responded to a potentially deadly encounter with a much lower level of force and de-escalation of force than could have been justified under the circumstances,” the statement from Gretna police said.
How, exactly, an unarmed young man, scared of police because of a mental illness, was a 'potentially deadly encounter', remains to be seen. But, this rhetoric, for now, has proven to work as no police officers involved have faced so much as a slap on the wrist.
As the video begins, Joseph is seen running like a scared little boy. When he sees these armed men try to kidnap and assault him for no reason, he panics and tries to hide behind the convenience store counter.
After jumping behind the counter, an officer that appears to weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 pounds then jumps on top of him. For several minutes Joseph is tasered and beaten.
“They beat him to death behind that counter for no reason other than he was mentally ill and he was black,” Oppenheimer said.
Despite the beating being clearly captured on video, the coroner report said that the cause of Joseph’s death was undetermined as to whether it was accidental or natural. Apparently, the coroner either failed to watch the video below or is clearly biased toward police.
Sadly, for now, it seems the only justice that Joseph's family will receive will be through a lawsuit at the taxpayer's expense. Due to the lack of training and tendency to escalate to violence within the Gretna police force, citizens would do well to steer clear. If you need help with a mentally ill family member, remember that this is what happens when you call the cops.