In yet the latest evidence of police responses being predicated on the race of a suspect, a white driver who was shown on video fleeing from police, trapping an officer in his truck’s window and hitting the cop with a hammer was able to avoid being shot during his encounter with law enforcement in Minnesota on Wednesday.
The anti-police violence in the city of Hutchinson came just four days after police in a different part of the state shot and killed Daunte Wright — an unarmed, 20-year-old Black driver — following a traffic stop initiated in part because of the number of air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror, a decidedly nonviolent offense.
The video of officers with the Hutchinson Police Department exercising restraint not typically employed with Black suspects was going viral Thursday morning, less than a day after the white motorist was first accused of assaulting an employee at a lumber store over an argument about his refusal to wear a mask inside the establishment. The Hutchinson Police Department said in a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday that officers were able to locate the suspect soon afterward.
The driver refused to stop, prompting a “slow speed pursuit” before he finally pulled over and got violent, the Hutchinson Police Department said.
“When an officer engaged the suspect through the driver’s side window, the officer became trapped in the window and the driver took off at a high rate of speed with the officer hanging onto the vehicle,” the statement said. “During the struggle, the officer was struck in the head with a hammer.”
The statement said the officer was left with “injuries” from the driver, who was only identified as a 61-year-old man who lives in Hutchinson. He was arrested at the scene.
What the statement failed to mention was how the driver also used his pickup truck to ram a police vehicle before the harrowing moment he seemingly sped off with the officer hanging from his window. A bystander recorded explicit video footage from the scene.
A few hours earlier, Kim Potter — who avoided termination and was allowed to resign on Monday from her job as a police officer in Brooklyn Center — was being arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing Wright in the Minneapolis suburb on Sunday. Had Potter shown Wright the same levels of restraint exercised in Hutchinson on Wednesday, she probably would not be facing up to a decade in prison for purportedly and inexplicably confusing a Taser with her gun and firing the fatal shot that killed Wright.
Both police encounters came on the backdrop of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, pointing to an apparently much larger problem with policing in the state of Minneapolis. The disparate police responses along racial lines point to an even bigger problem with policing in the United States at large.
This is America.