Unarmed Man Shot And Killed By Houston Cop For Wearing A Hoodie While Black
Jordan Baker, a 26-year-old Houston Community College student and father, “took his last breath in a trash-strewn alley behind a Northwest Houston strip center” on Thursday, January 16, all because he was a black man wearing a hoodie.
Houston police officer J Castro, an 11-year veteran who was moonlighting as a security guard for the strip mall that night, was on the lookout for hoodie-wearing armed robbery suspects. Castro says Baker, who was unarmed, matched the description and he shot and killed him as a result.
The police version of events, as reported by the local ABC affiliate, follows the predictable “he wasn’t cooperating and the cop was scared for his life” script:
According to police reports, an off-duty officer working security at the strip center, which is at the intersection of Antoine Drive and West Little York Road, Thursday night when he saw Jordan Baker riding his bike through the parking lot and peeking into businesses. When the officer asked Baker for an I.D., he said there was a scuffle, and a footchase, with the officer finally cornering Baker in the alley. The officer told investigators Baker charged toward him, and that’s when he fired his gun.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, before Baker was even named as the victim, police falsely told reporters that their officer had killed the man behind the robberies.
Castro, the only witness to the incident, has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, as is routine in police-involved shootings. But if Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland’s statement to KHOU 11 News is any indication, Castro’s actions are likely to be deemed justified.
Though McClelland admitted that investigators “found no weapons,” he added that “any police officer’s decision and justification to use deadly force is not absolute on whether the suspect is armed with a weapon.” He continued, “There is no federal, state law nor police training that requires a suspect to be armed. The justification to use deadly force is based on the officer’s perception given the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.”
It seems that in Houston, being black and wearing a hoodie is plenty justification for police to open fire, whether one is armed or not. As community activist Quanell-X put it, “He was guilty of only two things –being a young African male wearing a hoodie at night,” adding “He wants everyone to believe that Jordan rushed him unarmed with no weapon in his hand, with a cop with a gun in his hand. This don’t make no sense at all.”
According to his mother, Janet, Baker was a student at Houston Community College and leaves behind a 7-year-old son, also named Jordan.
“He’s not the way they portrayed him. He’s a father. He’s grandson. He’s a son. And he was just taken away,” Janet told ABC 13. As for the police report about what took place that night, “I don’t believe that’s what occurred,” said Janet. “I think that’s [the police chief] trying justify the outcome of what happened.”
“[Jordan] did everything right,” she added. “He’s a college student, he was working part time. He does everything for his son. His son is his life.”
It’s worth mentioning that the police justification for shooting Jordan—that he was wearing a hoodie just like the robbery suspects—is identical to George Zimmerman’s reasoning for murdering Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman claimed he was protecting his gated community from a potential thief following a series of burglaries and insisted that because Trayvon, a young black male in a hoodie, matched the description of the suspects, he had every right to hunt him down and kill him, an absurd and racist argument that only a bigot would support. But unlike Trayvon’s murder, Jordan’s is unlikely to elicit nationwide protests demanding Castro be brought to justice because, like most police shootings of unarmed black men, when the killer has a badge, racist rationalizations become far more acceptable. So we have to ask ourselves, why is it less reprehensible when a cop does it?