Last month, 37 year old Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert of Tupelo was racially profiled by a white police officer by the name of Tyler Cook who pulled him over for no other reason than being a Black man driving a car in the state of Mississippi. How does one know this is the reason he was stopped? Because the Tupelo Police Department itself is unable to provide the slightest hint as to why Mr. Shumpert was stopped and harassed. Regardless, his family insists Ronnie was complying with the officer’s request when he was viciously attacked by a police canine (K-9). Officer Cook in the meantime has seemingly concocted a story about Ronnie Shumpert fleeing from him, thus making him feel compelled to unleash the dog on him. I think it’s safe to assume that most people would flee a vicious canine, especially when one considers the harsh sentences imposed on people who hurt police dogs. And while Cook’s assertion that Shumpert went hiding in some bushes is questionable, what’s not in dispute is the fact that Shumpert was tortured and ultimately killed by the police officer.
According to photographs obtained by the Guardian, the K-9 mauled Antwun Shumpert’s testicles and clawed his back ferociously. This was not to be the end of this torturous affair however. For as he was being ripped apart by the police dog, officer Cook walked over with his gun and shot Antwun a total of four times. He died five hours later in a hospital.
It is perhaps no coincidence that this tragedy took place in Tupelo, where a week earlier police shot and killed another Black man after he allegedly lead them on a chase. Tupelo is the same city where a major in the police department once instructed his officers to “single out blacks for tickets and citations specifically.” Unfortunately the issue of K-9 dogs being used to torture and mutilate people is not confined to the state of Mississippi. Back in September, a total of 6 Delray Beach police officers in South Florida threw an unresisting handcuffed man to the ground and sicced their trained beast on him, all the while they sat back and watched and shouted “quit resisting” while the canine literally mauled the helpless man’s face off. In February 2010 a woman in San Diego who went to sleep on a couch at the office where she worked accidentally triggered a burglary alert. She was shocked to awaken to a K-9 on top of her, “tearing open her upper lip.” In Kenwood, Oklahoma a K-9 was used to attack a woman allegedly pulled over for speeding, and it bit off her face (A graphic image of it can be viewed here). And in Campbell, Ohio in 2011, a K-9 dragged to the ground by his arm an 8 year old playing hide-and-seek in his grandmother’s backyard.
Interestingly enough, when an everyday civilian owns a dog and that dog either injures, attacks, or kills someone, it is the dog’s owner who is held criminally responsible and faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted of murder. Time will tell if such an indictment, if any, is in the books for Officer Tyler Cook. Given the lack of police ever being held to account for anything that they do, you’d be advised not to hold your breath.