|Rochester, NY Police Officer Randy Book|
in U.S. Marine uniform
October 9, 2012 9:25 AM ET
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of Hayden Blackman's death.
On October 13, 2011, Rochester, NY Police officer Randy Book, a 25 year old, white trigger- happy cop shot and killed the 43 year old family man from Barbados, in front of his wife and stepchildren.
Rochester Police were called to the family's home on Columbia Avenue, on Rochester's west side for a domestic disturbance
Blackman's 16 year old stepson had punched his stepfather in the face. Once there, they observed that Blackman was holding a knife in his hand.
Officer Book ordered Blackman to drop the knife, but before Blackman was even able to comply with the order, Book opened fire, shooting him a
total of five times and hitting him three.
Officer Book never gave Blackman a chance to drop the knife.
Book knew exactly what he wanted to do. He never considered any other action, but to shoot. And not just to shoot, but shoot to kill. He never even gave any thought to shooting Blackman in the arm, or the leg in order to disable him. No, Book shot at what police refer to as "center mass". It is that part of the body just below the neck and above the waist. Police know that by shooting at this area of the body, the shots will be fatal, and by shooting Hayden Blackman five times and hitting him three times, R.P.D. cop Randy Book's intentions were clear: Shoot to kill.
Following Rochester, NY Police tradition, after RPD officer Randy Book's killing of Hayden Blackman, he was recognized with several rewards, including a Distinguised Service Award and Officer of the Month.
Throughout the United States, police are trained to shoot to kill. In fact, in 2010, the N.Y.P.D. was furious at the New York State Legislators' proposal of the "minimum force" bill which surfaced in the State Assembly, seeking to amend the State's penal codes' "justification" clause that allows a police officer the right to kill. The bill, drafted in the wake of the N.Y.P.D.'s exceution of Sean Bell, an unarmed African-American newlywed who was killed when plainclothes N.Y.P.D. officers fired more than 50 rounds at him and his friends as he exited a nightclub, would have forced officers to use their weapons "with intent to stop, rather than kill" a suspect. They would be mandated to "shoot a suspect in the arm or the leg". Under the present code, police are trained to shoot at the center of the target (center mass) and continue to fire their weapon until the "threat" has been stopped.
The Rochester, NY Police Department has a long history of hiring trigger happy cops.
In 2001 21 year old Vandy Davis, an unarmed Jamaican father of three young children was killed by Rochester Police officer David Gebhardt as he sat on a couch at a Joseph Avenue apartment. Gebhardt claimed he tripped on an extension cord causing him to discharge his shotgun, striking Davis in the chest.
Any firearms expert will tell you that you should never have your finger on the trigger of a firearm unless you intend to shoot. Had Gebhardt not had his finger on the trigger, Vandy Davis would be alive today.
And in 2002 Craig Heard, a 14 year old unarmed African-American Honor Roll student was shot twice in the head and executed by Rochester Police officers Serge Savitcheff and Hector Padgham.
When asked why Book didn't use a taser on Blackman, Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard said "Not all of our officers carry a taser".
So, in a city where former Mayor William Johnson's failed fast ferry cost taxpayers millions of dollars that we are still paying on, and where there are red light cameras as well as Rochester Police surveillance cameras throughout the city, which to date have generated millions in revenue for the city, there isn't enough money to equip all Rochester Police officers with tasers?
Of course, there is no guarantee that RPD officer Randy Book would have used a taser if he had one, I mean shooting a man a total of five times is a strong indicator of Book's intentions from the time he got to the home.
He couldn't wait to kill.
Perhaps, Hayden Blackman's widow, Roxanne Williams Blackman put it best when she said "My husband is from Barbados so he has dreads so naturally police always think any Black American with dreads, West Indian, they're not just straight and narrow, so he probably felt intimidated by that... But he (officer Book) didn't have to go to that extreme. Five shots, three of them hit him. It wasn't necessary."
So, the next time you think of calling police for assistance, think twice.
Especially if you are African-American or Latino.
It could be your loved one who is murdered right in front of you by a trigger-happy cop like Randy Book.
Something tells me had that been a white man holding that knife, Hayden Blackman would be alive right now, recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg.
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