With the way things have been going as far the victims of police brutality, getting any kind of comeuppance is hard to come by. With the exception of a few, most of the police that have killed or seriously injured with excessive force have evaded any penalty. Victims and their families can only hope to seek a financial award for civil rights violations, but that’s not always a sure shot. Two of the more recent victims of police brutality, one a Black teen and one a White man, were fortunate enough to be awarded money for their pain and suffering. However, the difference in the amounts, considering the circumstances of each incident might seem funny to some.
The first victim was 16-year-old Frenswa Raynor, a Black boy. On April 3rd, 2013, Oakland police officer (in field training) officer Bryan Clifford followed Raynor and his two friends after receiving a complaint that several teens had robbed a restaurant worker. Clifford shot at Raynor after he claimed that the teen reached for his waistband. The bullet grazed Raynor’s jaw. He was taken to the hospital and arrested. He was released the next day after police declared that the group of teens had nothing to do with any robberies that day.
The second victim was 30-year-old Francis Pusok. On April 9th, police in San Bernardino, CA arrived at Pusok’s home to serve him a warrant for identity theft. Pusok fled from the officers, leading them on a three-hour chase, during which, he stole a horse. News helicopters captured officers cornering Pusok after he fell off of the horse. He was zapped with a stun gun, shackled by the hands and ankles, then punched and driven into the ground as he struggled for air. He was hospitalized and charged with theft of a horse, possession of stolen property, and felony evading.
Here’s the thing. Francis Pusok was awarded $650,000 from San Bernardino County. for his ordeal. Frenswa Raynor received $230,000 from the city of Oakland. Pusok was wanted for a crime and ran from police when they came, and committed more crimes. He’d previously been charged with animal cruelty after shooting a dog in front of its owner, attempted armed robbery, and resisting arrest). Raynor is an innocent 16-year-old who was shot in the face by a police officer for no reason. Even if you add Raynor’s eyewitness friend’s award of $45,000, it still doesn’t come close to Pusok’s new-found fortune. It would seem that being shot would be a more traumatic experience than a stun gun and some punches. It’s the same state, too.
The only difference here is skin color. If young Frenswa is White, he may be financially straight. If Pusok is Black, he’d probably be dead long before he hopped on the horse.
For more from writer Ryan Smith, click here.