For a country that often prides itself on its Second Amendment, America sure is a hostile nation towards Black people who bear arms, isn’t it?
On April 25, two police officers in East Landing, Michigan, shot and injured 20-year-old Black man DeAnthony VanAtten in a Meijer supermarket parking lot. It started when officers answered a 911 call about a Black man with a gun. Now, to be fair, when the police arrived, VanAtten reportedly ran—and we all know how cops get when Black people run from them. To cops, that, in itself, warrants lethal force. The justification, of course, is cops don’t know what an armed person is going to do, so to be on the safe side, they better try to put them down. But what happens when the cops are the only ones recklessly firing shots into a public space with no apparent regard for any bystanders? What if their hostility is the reason a person’s first instinct might be to run?
Anyway, according to the Lansing State Journal, East Lansing Police have released some of the video footage of the shooting. Six videos were released in all. None of the videos show what happened inside the store.
Here’s what one video shows as reported by the Journal:
He gets out of the driver’s seat of a silver Chevy Equinox and runs into the store. Six seconds later, he runs back to the car and opens the driver’s side door. He grabs something from the car and runs back in.
In this video, an officer pulls up outside the Meijer and jumps out of his patrol vehicle.
He yells: “Get on the ground.”
The officer chases VanAtten through the parking lot and his yellow stun gun is visible in his hand as he runs.
He yells at VanAtten again, using expletives and demanding he get on the ground. He tells VanAtten he’s going to get “tased” if he doesn’t get on the ground.
“He’s reaching, he’s reaching, he’s got a gun,” one officer can be heard shouting in another video as he gets behind a pickup truck and starts shooting at VanAtten, who the Journal notes is “now a full row of cars away.” Meanwhile, another officer fired six shots at VanAtten, who has not been reported to have fired any shots at all.
To make a long story short, what can be heard in the video is cops shouting expletives, variations of “he’s got a gun” and “show me your hands!” After VanAtten is shot, he can be heard telling officers, “You just shot me, stop f***** touching my wound,” as officers attempt to render aid. VanAtten is shot in the abdomen and the leg.
“I can’t breathe,” he shouted. “I can’t believe you shot me, bro.”
A woman who reportedly arrived at the store in the same vehicle VanAtten was in can be heard hysterically screaming for the officers not to shoot. That woman also became somewhat of a suspect when cops were struggling to find the gun VanAtten was allegedly carrying.
More from the Journal:
“She’s gotta have the gun,” he says. He grabs her arm and pushes her over to her car. She’s holding a baby carrier. He tells another officer to “check her for a gun” and she screams at him as he tells her to relax.
“You are not free to leave,” he tells her.
The woman says the officers “shot him for no reason” and the officer tells her, “that’s not what the officer saw.”
He goes back over to the officers surrounding VanAtten and asks the first officer, the one who saw the gun, if he was able to stash it in a car.
“I couldn’t see man, I just saw him with it,” the officer says.
The officer ultimately finds a gun under a gray Volkswagen, two vehicles over from VanAtten’s SUV.
It should be noted that, according to the Daily Beast, the 911 dispatcher told responding officers, “I have a caller that advised… He’s not threatening anybody with [the firearm], just walked inside the store.”
After VanAtten was released from the hospital, he was taken into police custody and transferred to the Ingham County Jail on an alleged parole violation, the Daily Beast reported. He has since been released and, so far, he hasn’t been charged with a crime related to the parking lot incident. On Tuesday, before his release, protesters gathered outside the jail to demand justice.
“He went into that store to buy corn and macaroni for a cookout,” activist Sean Holland said at the protest. “He left his girlfriend and her eight-month-old baby in the car and said, ‘I’ll be right back,’ and, somewhere between that conversation and walking into Meijer, going and getting those items and checking out, he never made it home.”
His mother, Burnette VanAtten, said he was “running in fear for his life,” and that the only thing he was guilty of is “shopping while Black.”