But wait, there's more. It's deja vu all over again! Remember how in last week's shooting, witnesses reported Howard was unarmed and running from cops? And they said that cops shot him in the back? If it weren't for the video, many people (and a Baltimore City jury) would doubt the cops.
How many "witnesses" come forward when the shooter isn't a cop?
Well back in 1996 Howard was again busy robbing. He pulled a gun on cops, fired on cops, and cops shot back. Cops could have kept shooting. But the police didn't kill Howard because once Howard was no longer a threat, they stopped shooting. That's what cops are supposed to do. Police arrested Howard, without further incident, after Howard tried to kill them. Job well done, right?
Well in the 1996 shooting there was no video, and a jury acquitted Howard of all criminal charges. Howard's attorney said officers planted a "drop gun" on Howard. One witness adamantly testified Howard did not have a gun. (Boy, if cop did have drop guns to plant, why are so many "unarmed" people shot by cops? Think Sean Bell, Diallo, Zongo, and Michael Brown.)
As an outsider, this may seem like just a shame, understandable given years of oppression. Or maybe even true. But it's not. And it happens all the time. It what frames cops' worldview. And if you're the cop involved? It's life changing. And not for the better.
Howard then (unsuccessfully) sued the officers for $12 million. He claimed he was unarmed and had his arms raised.
When I was in Baltimore, Kevon Gavin was killed after his car was deliberately struck by a criminal being chased by other cops. The killer was doing 80mph and rammed Gavin's car, crushing it. The killer was arrested at the scene wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a semi-automatic handgun. Later, in the jury trial, the killer was acquitted of all criminal charges. He walked free. (Even his lawyer admitted he was surprised at the verdict.)
It's happened before and it will happen again.
So back in 1996, Stephen Cohen was one of the two cops that shot Howard:
The fallout prompted Cohen to leave the agency: He said he was accused at the civil trial of being corrupt and racist.So he quit.
"The most upsetting thing about it was that he had the audacity to come after us, like we did something wrong," Cohen says in a phone interview.... He pulls a gun, we shoot him, and now he's accusing us, because he did nothing wrong and we're the bad people."
"I saw the writing on the wall. I decided, I can't live my life like this. This is not what I want for my life," he said.
Cohen said the civil case with Howard 20 years earlier caused him to lose faith in his role as a police officer.
"This was life-changing. You're a young white guy, being crucified by a whole community of black people saying the only reason you shot him is because he was black," Cohen said.
"At the end of the day, you can't help people who don't want your help, and can't help themselves," he said. "I was saying, 'What am I doing in this picture? I can't change anything. I'm going to end up miserable, bitter or dead in jail."
Right now people are getting away with robbery and murder. This year alone there have been 67 homicides and 1,219 reported robberies in Baltimore. And yet when the story is reported, the only questionable characters are the cops.
I wonder how many people Howard robbed in the past 20 years. You have to assume he didn't die with a lifetime robbery record of 0 - 2.