Last Friday. a Los Angeles jury awarded a whopping $3.75 million to Asim Jamal Shakir Jr., who sued the LAPD after he was hit by two foam projectiles fired by LAPD officers during a protest/riot in May 2020, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
On the night of May 28, Shakir was live-streaming his involvement on his Instagram account while he was walking backward, away from a line of LAPD officers in riot gear. A dispersal order had already been given to the crowd, officers testified during the trial. During the stream, you can hear him yelling at the officers until he finds a target he can’t leave alone: his uncle, Officer Eric Anderson.
In the video, you can hear Shakir taunt the officers and say they were pointing out people to shoot. Newsflash to the uninformed: that is common practice. Why, you ask? It is done to make officers armed with non-lethal weapons identify targets that pose either a risk to their safety, or the safety of innocent civilians in the crowd, or in some cases it is done to remove instigators and agitators from a hostile crowd so they cannot incite violence. Police officers generally go out of their way to ensure no collateral damage occurs from any use of force.
Shakir points at his uncle (Officer Anderson) and starts to taunt him as well, saying things like, “Our ancestors are turning in their graves!” and “They’re telling each other who to shoot! Look, look!” over and over again. Halfway through his video, you can faintly hear a pop in the background, then he states that he got shot in the hand by a foam round. However, you cannot see nor hear any commands to open fire and you cannot see who did fire.
In the lawsuit, Shakir’s lawyer Carl Douglas alleged that both the LAPD and Shakir’s uncle were negligent, and claimed that Shakir didn’t hear officers give a dispersal order because “he arrived late,” and that he suffered physical and mental distress over the incident. The allegation is laughable, plain and simple. When someone arrives late to a protest where you can see (as his video clearly shows) a line of police officers moving a crowd in one direction, a rational human being would immediately turn around and leave. It’s implied in the officer’s actions that they’re ordering you to leave, and there isn’t a rational human being alive that would say it would be fine to stay there. I agree with what Shakir alleges his uncle said to his fellow officers:
“That’s my nephew…
“I’m going to be on his ass if he doesn’t get out of here.”
Again, Shakir’s video clearly shows a line of officers advancing to move a crowd away. That is standard operating procedure. He intentionally chose to stay and to instigate the officers and bait them into an action he could, and later did, take to court and sue for cold hard cash – the exact scenario I wrote about Tuesday morning. Shakir was the sole person responsible for his actions that day, yet he wanted to take his uncle and the LAPD to the jury box.
Some may ask how the jury came to this decision after deliberating for 13 hours. The simple fact is this, the City and County of Los Angeles are overwhelmingly populated with registered Democrats and/or staunch liberals. In addition, the local media in LA and Southern California in general, are biased against cops in general and regularly add that bias to their stories. But, as my colleague Brandon Morse observed:
Like everything presented to you by the media, that’s a sensationalized narrative that has little-to-no bearing on the truth. Police officers aren’t just committing racist murders; in fact, police officers are so concerned about being considered a racist murderer that they’re even afraid to do their jobs.
There is just no way around it. The overwhelming majority of the potential jury pool in this region is going to be at the very least skeptical of any cop, and possibly even blatantly and proudly anti-cop. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to hide those feelings to ensure one gets on a jury in the hopes they’ll be assigned to a case against an agency and/or an officer. And believe me, that happens all the time. My sister-in-law jokes all the time that she wants to get on a good jury trial, not because she is anti-cop (she isn’t at all) but because it interests her.
The decision in that case was never going to go the way it should have. The evidence was completely unclear at best, but the jury got it wrong. Even if there was a round fired by one of the officers in front of Shakir, it would have been entirely justified. Having been in riot control situations a couple of times, I can tell you that some people like Shakir want to get hit, because they know they take their case to a lawyer like Douglas and then angle for a payout. And in most cases, they will get one. Departments like the LAPD and the LA Sheriff’s Department often find it cheaper to settle a lawsuit by paying out. In this case, however, that didn’t happen, and unfortunately, the LAPD and Shakir’s uncle are forever changed.