America is finally having a national conversation about policing in lower-income communities, but it keeps getting interrupted...by stuff like this:
Officials are investigating the death of a man who died while in police custody Tuesday.
The man, identified as Phillip White, was arrested at a home on the 100 block of Grape Street in Vineland, New Jersey around 11 a.m. Tuesday. He died shortly after while in custody. Witnesses told NBC10 officers were extremely physical with White after he was already restrained and unconscious on the street.
"They punched him, stomped him, kicked him and then they let the dog out of the car," said Ricardo Garcia. "The dog bit him on his face and around his body. There's no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here." A dog is heard barking on a police dispatch recording of the incident.
Based on the initial reports, it appears that White was unarmed when the police in Vineland encountered him; officers claimed, on the scene and subsequently, that the suspect grabbed for the gun of one of the cops. (You'd think that, after all the publicity about Mike Brown and similar cases, that citizens would be aware that this is a terrible idea...maybe Phillip White didn't follow the news?) If that indeed happened, officers certainly needed to respond aggressively.
On the other hand, the officers' training probably didn't say anything about siccing a vicious dog on a suspect that's already subdued. The prosecutor and the New Jersey police, reportedly investigating the death, need to get to the bottom of this disturbing allegation. This is the second police-involved death in Cumberland County in just a few months -- some entire countries will have that level in a typical year.
Why? What is the training, the procedure, the equipment, that will help our police to de-escalate situations rather than escalate, to defend themselves and the public without a level of violent deaths that's unequalled in the industrialized world. The clock is ticking. The public wants solutions.