On a rainy day years ago, a 12-year-old boy was visiting his cousin in the south end of Hartford. They were listening to music, playing video games and doing typical pre-teen stuff. In that same building a drug raid took place.
The drug dealers broke into the apartment to escape through the back door. The cops ran behind the drug dealers without identifying themselves. The police officers grabbed the kids and assaulted both of them before placing them in handcuffs. Later that evening both were released to their parents.
The 12-year-old had bruises on his back and the cop that assaulted was known as a hero cop. A report was made, photos taken, and an investigation took place. Once the investigation was completed there was no discipline for the cop because a statement from a bruised 12-year-old was not enough evidence.
A year goes by and the now the 13-year-old stops by a pizza shop on the way home from school with a couple of friends. After leaving the pizza shop they get stopped by the police. The police officers performed a pat search and dropped him and his two friends off closer to home.
The only crime these teens committed was being the wrong color in a nicer neighborhood. This will not be the last time this teen’s civil rights are violated.
Fast forward 30 years, headlines on social media and every news network: George Floyd dies while being detained by Minnesota police officers.
We later find out that he was actually murdered in police custody. I do not have the strength to watch the video, but the image of a murderer with his hand inside his pocket and knee on a handcuffed human being’s neck is disturbing enough. Shame on the three officers that sat back and watched this crime take place. They had a duty to protect and serve. In 2020 not only did they violate George Floyd’s civil rights, they murdered him. No human being deserves to be treated like an animal. George Floyd did not deserve this. George Floyd’s family did not deserve to see him get murdered on social media with the rest of America.
As we watch this play out, you will here things like the officer’s “stress and fatigue.” But his hands inside his pocket and the other officers just watching this tell a different story.
Officers are trained to constantly reassess a situation. Officers are trained in various holds and handcuffing techniques to prevent asphyxia. Officers are trained to “protect and serve.” These four officers did not do what they were trained to do. These four officers failed George Floyd. All four of these officers are responsible for the outcome of that event.
I say again, I do not have the strength to watch the video. I was the 12-year-old who was assaulted by a hero cop. I was the 13- year-old who had my civil rights violated. The images bring back memories that I left behind. I pray that my two sons don’t have to encounter something like this.
When is enough, enough? America has to do better.
Alberto Cortes of West Hartford is a retired Correction Officer and a Republican candidate for the State Representative in the 20th District.