So far in 2017, KilledByPolice.com reports says that 1,037 people have died at the hands of law enforcement officers—mostly from fatal gunshot wounds. Rarely do the families of those victims see justice because of a tendency for law enforcement to protect their own. Many cases don't even make it trial, as officers fail to get indicted.
While many cases involve white officers and black victims, the shooting death of Delrawn Small was committed by NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs—a Black man. But the outcome of the criminal trial was the same as every other case.
On Monday, a Brooklyn Supreme Court jury acquitted Isaacs of what Small's family called a cold-blooded murder. The officer was off-duty on July 4, 2016, when he shot the 37-year-old following an incident of road rage. Ironically, this was the same week that both Eric Garner and Philando Castile were killed by police.
Small's girlfriend testified during the trial that Isaacs had been driving recklessly and cut them off in traffic. When Small got out of his car to confront the 38-year-old officer, Isaacs shot him three times.
In the police report, Isaacs alleged that Small had punched him in the face and that shooting him was done in self-defense. But video footage of the incident showed that Isaacs started firing his weapon before Small even got close to his car.
The community is outraged by the verdict. It seemed to be a winnable case, but supporters of Small are now forced to look somewhere else to place blame. Black Lives Matter President Hawk Newsome called the jury, made up of five Whites, five Blacks, one Asian, and one Hispanic, "murderers." But Newsome specifically blames Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office.
The family, however, was more frustrated with the seven women and five men who voted to let Isaacs go free. Small's brother, Victor Dempsey, is adamant that the officer should not be allowed to represent the NYPD nor the greater law enforcement community for that matter.
"Our quarrels are not with the AG's office," Dempsey said. "It's the jury, the jury did not listen. They decided to ignore all the facts of the case. The attorney general's office did their job. He (Isaacs) admitted to killing someone in cold blood, yet they didn't convict."
Isaacs will stay on the force in an administrative capacity while the NYPD conducts its internal investigation. In light of his acquittal in the criminal trial, Isaacs likely won't face any serious penalties from the department. This proves that in the matter of police-involved shootings, the color that counts the most is neither Black nor White. It's blue.