You can read more details on the story here or here – hell, just google “naked man VA” and a dozen more are out there. But in case you don’t want to spend your morning trolling murder story recaps, here ya go. This eighteen-year-old murdered two women and a child (okay, fine, allegedly) then spent an hour playing (sorry, it’s the only word I can think for it) with the police. He literally chases police officers. He attacks and chokes a church groundskeeper. He bobs and weaves as the police use mace, batons, K-9 dogs, all manner of non-lethal force trying to capture this guy. One hundred officers eventually arrive at the scene where the young man is apprehended, unharmed, and taken to a hospital for treatment.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Being taken in alive is supposed to be the goal, after all. But it does call to mind all the black men and women who were completely naked, unarmed, didn’t kill anyone, and ended up shot dead by the police. No one hour non-lethal chase, no one hundred officers responding in an attempt to take ’em in alive. Matthew Bernard’s case shows the police know how to avoid lethal force; it also makes it glaringly obvious when they don’t attempt it.
A 27-year-old black Air Force veteran who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. Hill was experiencing a mental health crisis the day Officer Robert Olsen shot and killed him when he found him naked and unarmed outside an apartment complex.
A 24-year-old black high school biology teacher with no history of mental illness or substance abuse. Body cam footage shows Officer Nyantakyi, faced with a naked and visibly disturbed Peters, fired his taser then shot him twice in the abdomen. He later died at the hospital.
A 17-year-old young black man who was naked, unarmed, and in a highly agitated state when then Officer Geoffrey Freeman shot him dead.
An unarmed black 17-year-old high school student was running naked through a neighborhood when he was tasered and shot dead by Sgt. Milo Box and Officer Denton Scherman.
also: Check out “One Was Naked and Unarmed, Another Was ‘Out of Control’ and Engaged In A Shootout with Oklahoma Police — Only One Survived” if you’d like to see a side-by-side comparison of how Oklahoma officers handled two very similar situations.
And that’s only five. Five examples of young black men in crisis, clearly in need of help, none of whom were the subject of a manhunt after murdering three people. What’s their common denominator? They all ended up dead.
But if this is surprising you then you haven’t been paying attention.