The bodycam footage is unambiguous: A 67-year-old man is seen sitting in the back of a police car, handcuffed, being tased by a police officer.
“You scream again,” the police officer dares the sexagenarian in the backseat. He does. The officer uses the stun gun again.
According to The Associated Press, Port Allen, Louisiana, police Officer Nolan Dehon III was charged earlier in the month in the March 27 incident.
Izell Richardson Jr., a black man, is talking to the media about how he “still recalls the shock of 50,000 volts of electricity pulsed into his body by a Louisiana police officer,” WAFB-TV reported.
On Thursday, the bodycam footage was released — and while one doesn’t want to opine on a case that hasn’t hit court yet, the video is anything but exculpatory.
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Why, then, do we not have Black Lives Matter protests in Louisiana? Why, when the shooting death of a girl who was potentially about to stab another girl pinned up against a car has inflamed activists in Columbus, Ohio, and across the nation, are we not talking about Richardson’s case?
It likely has something to do with the fact Nolan Dehon III is black.
THE INVESTIGATORS: Port Allen officer Nolan Dehon, III has been arrested for malfeasance in office and aggravated battery charges after a complaint was filed with the department over a tasing incident. @WAFB
WHAT WE KNOW>>> https://t.co/kC6ALq5gHD pic.twitter.com/9UFrdqY4Ri
— Scottie Hunter WAFB (@ScottieWAFB) April 12, 2021
First, the details: On March 27, Port Allen police responded to a call from a woman who said a man was breaking into her house. It was Richardson, and his sister was the one who made the call. The 67-year-old said he forgot his keys. While it’s unclear when the police were called, the video was timestamped at roughly 3 a.m.
“This is my house. … I pay for everything here. She don’t run nothing,” he said, regarding his sister.
Richardson told police he had a bad back, and as he was sitting in the police car, he began calling for help. One voice said, “Stop screaming,” while another said, “Scream again. Go ahead.”
After he screamed again for help, the stun gun could be heard on the video.
Richardson cursed at the officer, an officer identified as Dehon told him to scream again — and Richardson got another jolt.
When he reached the station, Richardson said he had open-heart surgery two months prior and was transported to the hospital.
Perhaps the most damning bit of evidence came before they transported him to the police station, when Dehon realized the house was Richardson’s but still wanted to find something to charge him with.
“That’s pretty much his window, so there’s nothing we can do about that. So now, yeah, this is disturbing the peace with him doing all of that hollering,” Dehon said.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language and content that some viewers will find offensive.
Richardson’s tale, in any other context, would be the harrowing pretext for all sorts of protests.
“He said, ‘If you holler one more time then I’m going to pop you again,’ and he put it right to my heart, and it went pow and I went out,” Richardson told WAFB.
Dehon was charged with malfeasance in office and aggravated battery. On May 5, he’ll face a termination hearing before the Port Allen City Council.
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Yes, the AP has picked up the story, but only as a tale of excessive force — which is what Dehon stands charged with, more or less. Richardson didn’t die or suffer any adverse health outcomes, which is felicitous for all involved.
And yet, even if something had happened, what would be the narrative?
Would there be one, for that matter? We can’t say that for certain, given the fact potential inappropriate use of force against an elderly black man wasn’t enough to spark national outrage.
If there was a narrative, we could hear about how the officer had “ingrained white supremacy” from working in the putrified, racist power structure that’s American law enforcement.
Who trained Dehon, for that matter? Do we know his superiors aren’t all white men?
Odds are you wouldn’t see a Black Lives Matter protest, but you’d see a lot of think-pieces about how a black man was brutalized by a black man who was a symbol of white oppression.
This, in short, isn’t about gross abuses of power. It never was, even when it’s against black men. It only works when there’s a white guy who’s the bad actor.
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