NYPD’s Wayne Isaacs. CBS screenshot.
[Speaking Truth to Power]
The acquittal of NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs for the cold-blooded, road-rage killing of Delrawn Small is yet another example of how racist, and corrupt, the American judicial system is as it relates to Black Americans.
Once again, we witness a hypocritical system that, regularly, uses all means to acquit police—whether they are White or Black—who kill and murder Black people.
This unjust verdict, once again, illustrates that Black lives just don’t matter to this political system which give us lofty lectures about the “rule of law,” that makes a mockery of our reality.
Officer Wayne Isaacs was acquitted for the July 4, 2016, killing of 37-year-old Delrawn Small—who confronted the off-duty officer after Officer Isaacs apparently cut in front of the car Small was driving with his girlfriend, Zaquanna Albert. Initially, the police seems to have done what they usually do in these cases: they lied.
Police first falsely claimed that Small attacked Isaacs, by punching him through the window and that the officer was forced to then fire his weapon in self-defense. However, cellphone video of the actual encounter shattered that fabricated narrative. The video shows Mr. Small being shot almost immediately upon approaching Officer Isaacs’ car. He then stumbles away before falling on the street where he died.
The acquittal of this killer-cop added more grief to the family of Mr. Small.
“We are devastated and outraged that the jury failed to ensure justice by not holding NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs accountable. Our society must confront the problematic issues related to race and power that lead grand juries and juries to fail to hold officers fully accountable when they kill people of color,” the statement read.
Victor Dempsey, the brother of Delrawn Small also expressed his disbelief at the verdict.
“Today, the justice system made a statement that it does not equally value Black life and the life of our brother Delrawn Small,” Davis said. “The fact that Officer Isaacs was Black does not diminish the systemic issues of racialized fear and the criminalization of Blackness that allow a jury to consider the killing of an unarmed Black man by a police officer as justified. We heard it in the defense’s case that sought to paint our brother, the victim, as someone to be feared, playing into a historic, racialized fear of Black people in this country.”
Dempsey and the family are calling for Isaac to be stripped of his badge and gun.
“This is a guy we need to get off the streets,” said Dempsey. “He cannot represent the NYPD. He cannot represent law enforcement. He can’t. He should have been held accountable today but unfortunately he wasn’t. Now I’ve got to stand with my family and look at them in the eye and not know how to explain what just happened…We are demanding that Wayne Isaacs is released from the NYPD,” Dempsey said.
“We don’t think that it is fair to society and to us that a known killer gets to walk around with a badge and a gun. An officer, who is so trigger-happy that he immediately shoots not once, not twice but three times and kills a civilian simply approaching his car, is a threat to public safety,” Dempsey said.
“I felt like I died [when I heard the verdict]. I cannot express it any other way. It literally felt like my brother was murdered twice. I was an overwhelming feeling. I was in shock. At that moment my whole spirt to fight was taken out of me. I could not move.”
Small’s girlfriend, Zaquanna Albert, who was with him in the car, and saw him shot to death, also spoke out about the unjust verdict.
“It’s heartbreaking.” Albert said. “I should have known he was a police officer because he wasn’t arrested immediately…They’re getting away with too much and it’s unacceptable. I just hope that some changes are being done before my son gets older — because he is a Black boy in America.”
Once, again we’re witnessing how this so-called justice system fixes verdicts to protect a killer-cop— a so-called “officer of the law”—from being held accountable for the horrific crime he perpetrated against an innocent Black man. And Officer Isaac used the tried and true excuse police always use when they kill innocent Black people: he feared for their life.
How often are we to swallow this ready-made excuse when police kill and murder us?
Moreover, as Ms. Albert pointed out they were not at first aware Isaacs was a cop. Did he ever announce to Small that he was a cop—before he shot him with such heartless malice? Would Mr. Small have even approached Isaacs if he knew Isaacs was a member of New York’s “finest?”
This crime was as callous as can be. Officer Isaacs killed Small without a second thought. Police in America do not respect Black lives—and because Isaac happens to be Black doesn’t change the fact that the institution of the police is just as racist as all the other institutions in White America.
As Black Lives Matter leader in New York, Hawk Newsome, said after this verdict “This whole system is corrupt. You are all murderers. How could you let him go free?”
We all know the painful answer to that question. Black life is devalued in this country that claims to be a “nation of laws.” These “laws” clearly don’t apply to Black Americans. They never did.
Does anyone think this Black cop would’ve been acquitted if he had murdered a White person in this manner?
What kind of “nation of laws” allows so-called “law enforcement officers” to kill innocent citizens without face any kind of judgment? America’s criminal justice proves repeatedly that it is just another corrupt institution that Black America should have zero faith in. This same criminal justice system that incarcerates Black people at astronomically high rates for things that aren’t real crimes, like drug possession, can never seem to administer anything remotely resembling justice when police kill and murder us.
Obviously, the citizenship of Black Americans is not valued equally by White Americans—who control all the levers of political and legal power. Every time the justice system runs a sham trial to exonerate violent and murderous cops they expose their illegitimacy as it relates to their lies about Lady Justice being “blind.” Time and again, this crooked legal machinery does everything in its power to release these murderers who use the police badge, and their “license to kill” to abuse and murder us.
Now, some will make much about the fact that the jury was made up of five Blacks and one Latino. But what do we know about these folk? Unfortunately, there has always been Blacks who sellout their and inflict pain on other Black people—like this killer-cop.
Moreover, we should know by now that this system uses all kinds of methods to subvert justice. Look at all the tricks we’ve seen from prosecutors like: Dan Donovan in the Eric Garner case; Bob McCullough in the Michael Brown case and Tim McGinty in the Tamir Rice case.
And when the prosecutors aren’t undermining justice to acquit cops, we get judges like Justice Arthur Cooperman. In the Sean Bell case, he made these curious statements regarding the cops who killed Bell in a hail of 50 shots: “It was necessary to consider the mind-set of each defendant (the cops) at the time and place of the occurrence and not the mind-set of the victims.” Judge Cooperman also claimed that “carelessness and incompetence are not standards to be applied here.”
Unjust acquittals of police who kill and murder Black Americans prove that America’s justice system agrees with what Chief Justice Roger B. Taney said in the infamous Dred Scott trial: that Blacks are “beings of an inferior order” and “have no rights which the White man was bound to respect.”