Dem Rep Cleaver: Police Shootings Harming the Psyche of Young Black Men

Friday on CNN’s “The Lead,” while discussing the recent police shootings in North Carolina and Oklahoma, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) said, “When this happens with such frequency, hopefully people around the country can understand what it does to the psyche of many of these African Americans young men who are good, decent kids. I got a call early this morning with a kid who said, you guys told us raise our hands and do the things we’re supposed to do and we do that and still get shot.”

Partial transcript as follows:

TAPPER: You hear the shots on the video, tell us what you see what you see in this video.

CLEAVER:  Well, I see a nation where a lot of young, African men are going to become even more frightened, even here in Missouri where the assembly just over-rode a governor’s veto so people all over the state can carry guns out in public. I also see a troubling situation. I don’t want to pass judgment until the authorities get to investigate, but I do think that because of the questions that are being raised, it would be good for Attorney General Lynch to decide that there’s going to be a federal look at this case.

TAPPER: In the video you do hear police officers at least ten times shout for Mr. Scott to drop the gun. That certainly could be seen as lending credence to the state’s argument, the city’s argument at the very least, they thought he had a gun, much less than he did have a gun.

CLEAVER:  Well, yeah, I think that as your experts have said this may be inconclusive. However, and it’s probably going to be difficult for people around the country to understand this — when this happens with such frequency, hopefully people around the country can understand what it does to the psyche of many of these African Americans young men who are good, decent kids. I got a call early this morning with a kid who said, you guys told us raise our hands and do the things we’re supposed to do and we do that and still get shot. I think we have a lot of problems that need to be addressed. First and foremost we need to make a commitment that we’re going to provide every police department with body cameras and figure out the solution of the extreme cost of the storage of that data. I think it was William O’Douglas who said, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Even when inconclusive, it gives people some comfort that their own eyes and brain can make a conclusion of what they saw.

TAPPER: Congressman, the police chief of Charlotte has said that early release of the dash cam video could jeopardize the investigation, still others say, release that video let’s see what happened. Where do you lie?

CLEAVER:  Well, here’s the issue for me and a lot of people, and it is this, if the police are going to hold the video that they have, then the person or individuals involved should not be allowed to see that video. Because if they are, I’m not saying this is the case, but they could make adjustments in the statement that they give. They are all required to give a statement and what you don’t want to happen is for them to see the video before they make the statement. And I think that’s where a lot of suspicion and paranoia rises. It also talks about the level of distrust that we have. You mix non-transparency with, you know, a kind of mystery about the video and you’re going to get what we have now. And that is people who are absolutely certain that the police are hiding something.

TAPPER: Yet you seem to be saying if they did release the video that might help the police officers were they ever to be brought up on any sort of charges, and releasing the video might actually mess up prosecution of those officers, assuming there was going to be a prosecution—assuming they did anything wrong—which I’m not saying they did, is that not what you’re saying?

CLEAVER: Yes. You get the statement from the officers involved and then you release the video. Holding the video is only going to create problems. So you get a statement immediately and then you release the video and you don’t allow for amendments to the statement that the police give immediately after they’re interviewed. Because people are nervous about it.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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