Ron Martinelli, Ph.D.
Forensic Criminologist/Police Expert
Copyright © 08-22-16
In light of the recent officer-involved shooting of armed black suspect Sylville Smith by a black police officer during a foot pursuit in Milwaukee last week I am just trying to wrap my head around exactly what the militant, anti-police Black Lives Matter movement expects of police.
Sylville Smith- As we now know, the 23-year-old Smith was initially inside a vehicle that was stopped by police for suspicious activity. Smith was armed with a fully loaded handgun and ran from police. As a black police officer was pursuing Smith on foot, Smith turned towards the officer with a gun in his hand. The officer had only milliseconds to respond defensively to the life threat and fired upon Smith. According to the recently released Medical Examiner’s report, Smith was fatally wounded with shots to the chest and arm. The ME’s report and a body cam video of the incident forensically supported the statement of the involved officer. Certainly nothing even close to a “Hands up; don’t shoot!” scenario. The handgun that Smith was armed with that night was reported stolen in an earlier burglary.
A review of Smith’s lengthy criminal history documents that he was a serious recidivist street thug with prior arrests for drug dealing and armed aggravated assault. Just last year, Smith was charged with witness intimidation after he was found to pressure a witness from testifying against him in yet another retaliation shooting incident. When that witness refused to testify against Smith, Smith was released from custody.
Last Saturday following the shooting, a major riot broke out with at least 100 rioters and protesters clashing with police. One officer was seriously injured and several police vehicles were smashed with heavy objects and/or set ablaze. The rioters then moved on and torched a gas station, bank and three other buildings. Videos of the incident document that a number of the rioters were identified as members of Black Lives Matter and other Black Nationalist movements who shouted “Black Power!” during the chaotic event. The protesters also assaulted a number of journalists present to report on the incident.
Alton Sterling – Two weeks earlier, members of the Black Lives Matter movement and their supporters protested the officer-involved shooting of armed suspect Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In that incident, police were called to the scene to investigate a man matching Sterling’s physical and clothing description who had allegedly threatened a man with a handgun. When the officers attempted to detain and search Sterling, he physically resisted. Videos of the incident document that the officers warned Sterling to stop resisting before tasing him. When the TASER® apparently had no effect, one of the officers tackled Sterling to the ground where he then violently resisted restraint. A citizen’s video documents what clearly appears to be Sterling’s right elbow moving up and down as the officers are heard to repeatedly yell at Sterling not to reach for his gun. The officers have stated that they were forced to shoot and kill Sterling in defense of their lives. A loaded handgun was recovered from Sterling’s right front pants pocket, forensically supporting their statements of a perceived imminent life threat. The involved officers were wearing bodycams, but they fell off during the incident. However, what the cameras were able to record might still prove to be valuable. This incident is currently under investigation by the state’s investigative agency.
A review of Alton Sterling’s criminal history included having sex with a minor, drug and unlawful weapons possession. His last arrest was in 2011, where he was sentenced to five years. In 2015, an arrest warrant was issued for Sterling for failure to register as a sex offender. Sterling was certainly no stranger to police or the criminal justice system.
Michael Brown – In my new book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police,” I devote an entire chapter to forensically and legally analyzing the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown by then Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. The false narrative of “Hands up; don’t shoot” created by one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement was born from this incident.
As we now know, 18-year-old Michael Brown was far from the innocent black teen he was falsely represented to be by his parents and the uninformed liberal mainstream news media. Forensic evidence documented by the U.S. Department of Justice and their FBI unequivocally proved that Brown had committed a strong-arm robbery of a store clerk before being detained by patrol Officer Wilson. The forensic evidence also clearly documented that Brown had suddenly and violently attacked Officer Wilson and had tried to disarm and kill him while the officer was still in his patrol car. Finally, after the 6’2”, nearly 300-pound Brown had fled from the officer; he then abruptly turned around and charged already injured Officer Wilson. After issuing repeated warnings for Brown to stop, Officer Wilson was forced to shoot to stop Brown’s imminent life threat. The FBI’s investigation proved that “Hands up; don’t shoot” never happened.
Some shocking statistics to provide context-
There is certainly no doubt that the job of law enforcement officer is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Officers protect the Rule of Law in our by-consent Democratic society. They are responsible for domestically maintaining law, order and the safety and security of communities. Presently and by far, law enforcement officers suffer more personnel killed and injured in the line of duty than all of our military forces combined world-wide.
Since August, 2015, we have seen an amazing 68% increase in law enforcement officers being murdered by firearms. A number of these officers have been murdered by surprise ambush as observed recently in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Since 2006, on average we have had 144 peace officers die in the line of duty nationally. Since 2004, over 57,000 peace officers were assaulted by resistive and violent suspects. If the current trend in violence against officers continues, we will have experienced for the first time since the Prohibition Era an over 100% increase in peace officers murdered by firearms nationally.
The aforementioned stunning statistics underscore that peace officers today walk around with targets on their backs; never knowing who has an intent to kill them during a close proximity encounter; or from afar by total surprise. It is a mindset and a psychological stressor that those outside of the law enforcement community can never truly understand or appreciate.
A never-ending series of false narratives-
The Black Lives Matter movement, its Black Nationalist affiliates, its surrogates and supporters continue to forward a never-ending series of false narratives and misrepresentations regarding law enforcement interactions with the public. Vetted statistics from a variety of government and independent researcher sources consistently and forensically document that officer-involved deaths of black men have dropped nearly 75% during the past 30 years; while the rates of black suspects murdering peace officers has risen by seven-fold. This is an amazing statistic, given the fact that black men comprise less than 7% of our population; and young black men even less than that.
The statistics document that black men kill other black men in justifiable self-defense homicides at a higher rate than police officers kill black men. The statistics are also conclusive that officers kill twice as many white males as black males during deadly force confrontations. In my book, I devoted two entire chapters replete with research and statistics on officer-involved deaths of black males. I included research by Dr. Richard Johnson that the chances of a black male being killed by police is less than a black male being struck and killed by lightning. Yet, the Black Lives Matter inspired falsehoods prevail and are repeated by an uninformed and lazy mainstream media hungry for #jounalism sensationalism. This proves the adage that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually believe it as “truth.”
What are the reasonable expectations of Black Lives Matter towards police?
Given the case histories and statistics I have provided, I would challenge the founders, members and the surrogates of the Black Lives Matter movement to tell us what their reasonable expectations of police are towards the black and minority communities.
In the aforementioned cases, the police were investigating valid calls for service. Two of the incidents involved crimes of violence and all three incidents involved violent suspect resistance and imminent death threats to the involved officers. In two of the incidents, officers were wearing body cameras and in all three incidents, portions of the police encounters with the involved suspects and/or the crimes the suspects committed before they were shot by police were forensically recorded on video. In all three incidents, there is a mountain of forensic evidence available to reconcile what actually happened.
In none of the incidents involving deceased suspects Michael Brown, Alton Sterling or Sylville Smith, did the involved officers begin the encounters with any threat to use deadly force. In all of the incidents, officers attempted to use conversation and/or de-escalation techniques in an attempt to obtain voluntary compliance with instructions, directions or commands during detention. In two of the occasions, the suspects were armed with handguns and in the case of Michael Brown, that suspect violently assaulted and attempted to disarm and kill the detaining officer before he himself was killed in self-defense. In all three occasions, the involved officers provided the resisting suspects with multiple force warnings prior to using force. In all three occasions, the involved officers attempted lower-level, less-lethal force options prior to resorting to deadly force.
So my questions to BLM is, (1) “Just where are you going with all of your demands and criticisms of police?” and (2) “Just what more do you expect police do to in such instances?”
I’m not very optimistic about receiving any valid responses to my questions because I am already well aware of the BLM anti-police, Marxist and racist rhetoric. When you don’t have any responsible responses or suggestions, you simply call police “racists” and “white supremacist oppressors.” However, my responses to these diatribes are (1) that most urban police departments mirror the racial demographics of their populations; and (2) a recent Harvard University research project of ten major urban cities by economics Professor Roland Fryer, Jr. documented that peace officers do not base their decisions to use force/deadly force upon race. In Fact, his research shows that police officers are more inclined to fire upon white suspects who present a life threat; rather than blacks under the same circumstances.
So what are the expectations of the BLM movement with respect to how police should respond to black subjects who resist, are violent and/or armed during detention or arrest? That answer is easy if you simply look at the history of their complaints, rhetoric, protests and riots following police-involved shootings of black men like Brown, Sterling and Smith. They value the lives of violent, recidivist criminals over those of police. The proof is in their actions and this is very troubling.
Which black lives really matter?
Everything I have seen from the founders, surrogates and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement points to a clear and consistent hypocrisy about which black lives really matter. Certainly in the case of Sylville Smith in Milwaukee who was shot and killed by a black officer; it was the armed and violent Smith’s life that mattered more than the officer who was merely trying to defend himself.
The lives of tens of thousands of black males murdered each year in “black on black” homicides certainly don’t matter to the Black Lives Matter movement because we never see the founders, leaders and surrogates of the movement protesting those deaths. We don’t see them protesting the millions of black teens, men and women addicted to drugs; predominately sold by black drug dealers. We also don’t see them protesting the presence and violence of street gangs who shoot, stab, maim and cripple our youth. Why not? Because those are simply inconvenient facts that do not serve the movement’s message that police are society’s bad guys. This highlights the corruption and hypocrisy of the BLM movement.
How should we view the Black Lives Matter movement?
So how should the public, the media, politicians and the law enforcement community view the BLM movement? Certainly not through the prism of race, as they view things.
Remember that the Black Lives Matter movement is above all, anti-law enforcement and anti-Democratic form of government. All of their rhetoric is Marxist and Black Nationalist based. Anyone who spends time researching the speeches and backgrounds of BLM founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi will see this. The heroes of BLM are the founders and major players of the old Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground. Several of the main founders in those organizations were both Marxist and cop-killers.
The main objectives of the BLM movement with respect to their conflict with law enforcement are to disenfranchise and diminish police authority and reputation in the community; then defund policing programs, training and equipment; and finally to dissolve law enforcement because police safeguard the Rule of Law in a Democratic society.
To summarize, Black Lives Matter has no reasonable expectations of law enforcement that would positively serve any community. That’s just not what they are about. They could care less about the safety of those who protect our communities against the criminal element. Their plan is to eventually disrupt Democratic society; but they cannot accomplish that objective unless the diminish the reputation and stature of law enforcement officers nationally. In order to do that, they need an uninformed and persuasive public; a complicit media; and politician surrogates willing to trade truth and justice for votes and power.
Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V, is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police expert who directs the nation’s only multidisciplinary Forensic Death Investigations and Independent Review Team. He is the author of “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police,” (Amazon.com). Visit: http://www.DrRonMartinelli.com
“Examining the Prevalence of Death from Police Use of Force,” Johnson, Richard, Ph.D., © 2015, University of Toledo