The following is an excerpt from Ron Martinelli, Ph.D.'s new book "The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police."
On September 2, 2015, I had the pleasure of appearing on Megyn Kelly's Black Lives Matter (BLM) special on Fox News. As someone who has investigated hundreds of high-profile, officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, I found the program both fascinating and extremely frustrating.
Guests included members of the law enforcement community, legal experts, clergy, and BLM supporters. I would like to share my experience as a law enforcement and forensic expert because what I observed that night motivated me to discuss what I believe is an important strategy of the BLM movement: It tells lies and attempts to promote deliberately false narratives.
Most BLM movement supporters are true believers who won't consider contrary evidence, even scientific evidence. In fact, I don't think I'm going out on a limb in claiming they spew deliberate lies regarding law enforcement's encounters with members of the black community.
It is apparent that the Black Lives Matter movement is founded upon mostly groundless issues, misinformation, and outright falsehoods regarding specific police and civilian-related force encounters with black suspects and persons of interest. Let me now separate the scientific facts from the fantasies on which this movement is based.
In previous chapters, I have provided the non-speculative, objective facts, forensic evidence, and police practices surrounding the fatal encounters between Trayvon Martin and private citizen George Zimmerman and between Michael Brown and former Ferguson, MO, police officer Darren Wilson.
Both of these incidents formed the foundation for the Black Lives Matter movement, according to its founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and the Los Angeles BLM Chapter leader professor Melina Abdullah. These incidents are frequently alleged as examples of "extrajudicial murders" of young black men by police and non-black citizens. However, there are other examples of alleged unlawful detentions and arrests and racially motivated acts of "police violence" upon blacks that often surface when BLM leaders and their supporters are marching in protest or are interviewed by the mainstream media.
Hands Up. Don't Shoot
I am not going to go into detail about the Michael Brown case in this excerpt. But any discussions of the lies that fuel Black Lives Matter would be incomplete without at least some mention of libel that Michael Brown was shot to death while surrendering with his hands up.
The "Hands Up. Don't Shoot" lie has been disproven by several investigations and disavowed by every responsible media outlet. The autopsy reports, photographs, and diagrams of the bullet strikes to Michael Brown's body and the trajectory of the paths of those bullets through Brown's body do not support allegations that Brown had his hands up in surrender at any time during his confrontation with former officer Darren Wilson before Wilson shot at and killed him. Statements that Brown had his hands up, was surrendering, and asking the officer not to shoot are not supported by forensic and medical evidence.
It just did not happen. Yet, signs reading "Hands Up. Don't Shoot" and other symbols implying that Wilson murdered Brown while he was surrendering are still common during Black Lives Matter demonstrations. "Hands Up. Don't Shoot." is the big lie BLM uses to perpetuate its core propaganda that racist police officers are callously gunning down unarmed black men in the street. So the group will not let it go despite the fact it is clearly a blatant lie.
Sgt. Crowley vs. Professor Gates
Black Lives Matter also uses misinformation about other famous encounters between officers and African-American men to advance its argument that American law enforcement officers are racists. One of these is the infamous encounter between Cambridge, MA, officers and a well-known Harvard University professor.
On July 16, 2009, Cambridge police were dispatched to a residence on Ware Street after receiving a call from a neighbor who reported that two unknown black male adults were on the front porch of a residence and that one of the subjects was attempting to enter the front door by bodily force.
When Sgt. Crowley and other officers of the Cambridge PD walked up to the porch of the residence, he observed and encountered Gates, whom he found in the foyer of the home. When the sergeant identified himself, explained the reason for the officers' presence, and asked Gates to step outside to speak with him, the professor replied, "No. I will not."
When Crowley again explained that he was responding to a possible break-in, Gates replied, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" When Crowley directed Gates to produce some identification to verify that he was in fact the resident, Gates ignored him and began to make a phone call. The sergeant overheard Gates telling someone on the other end of the line that he was "dealing with a racist police officer in his home."
Once additional officers, including Harvard University Police officers, arrived on scene, Gates reluctantly produced his Harvard University faculty card.
Based upon this information Gates gave them, the Harvard PD officers were able to verify Gates' identity and home address. Sgt. Crowley then apologized to Gates for the inconvenience, and he and the assisting officers left the premises. This should have been the end of this encounter, but it wasn't—not because of anything the officers did, but because the incensed and self-important Professor Gates just wouldn't let it go.
As the officers walked away, Gates came out onto his front porch and began to loudly rant and rave about Crowley's racial bias, calling him a racist police officer. Crowley took this opportunity to warn Gates that he was now creating a disturbance and advised the agitated professor to calm down or face arrest. When Gates continued his tirade, Crowley had apparently had enough of the professor's belligerent attitude and arrested him for disorderly conduct. It was, in my opinion, a well-deserved and lawful arrest.
Unfortunately, and most probably because Professor Gates had some standing within the Harvard academic community, the prosecutor dropped the charges against Gates. Also, Gates had a connection to President Barack Obama, who was apparently on his speed dial.
President Obama publicly chastised the Cambridge police and Sgt. Crowley on the national news, saying that "the police acted stupidly" for arresting Gates. It is amazing that Obama, who touts himself as a former professor of Constitutional law, knows so little about the laws of arrest and search and seizure and the elements that constitute even basic criminal violations.
In the end, Professor Gates' citizen complaint was dropped. The actions of Sgt. Crowley and the other officers were determined to have been appropriate and justified police actions. No civil rights tort was ever filed by the pedantic professor. End of story—and of this false narrative about police racially profiling a black man. But you will never get Black Lives Matter to admit Sgt. Crowley was maligned by Gates just for doing his job and protecting the professor's property.
On April 12, 2015, officers working in a high-crime, drug sales area of Baltimore observed Freddie Gray, 25, involved in the possible hand-to-hand sales of drugs. As police approached, Gray fled on foot and was pursued by the officers who captured him. When the officers searched Gray, they found him in possession of a spring-assisted knife, which they believed to be illegal. Gray was arrested, handcuffed, and placed into the rear of a transportation van but was not secured in a seat belt.
During transportation to the Western District police station, Gray became agitated and subsequently suffered a serious medical emergency. He was comatose and hospitalized for a serious spinal cord injury and later died on April 19th.
After only a 24-hour investigation by state investigators, six Baltimore officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest and transportation were charged with several crimes, including second-degree murder in connection with Gray's death.
A leaked medical examiner's report of Freddie Gray's autopsy and toxicology reports showed that Gray suffered a devastating spinal cord injury after his head slammed into a wall in the back of the police van. The Medical Examiner who authored the report found no evidence that Gray's spinal injury was caused by any use of police force during his arrest. The forensic medical evidence indicates that Gray broke his neck and that the wound to his head matched an extended metal bolt in the back of the van. The autopsy found no other evidence of trauma that would be consistent with force-related injuries on Gray's body. No police were riding in the back of the van with Gray during his transportation.
Well-known forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht has opined that Gray's manner of death was consistent with a "rough ride" in the police transportation van. However, my colleague, the eminent forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent DiMaio, who has worked scores of high-profile death cases, has suggested that Gray's manner of death should actually be more accurately classified as "accidental or undetermined." As a Certified Medical Investigator myself, I tend to agree with Dr. DiMaio's opinion at this point.
Another prisoner in the van, identified as Donta Allen, initially told Baltimore investigators and a Washington Post reporter that Gray had been agitated, screaming, and banging around in the van during transportation. Allen told police and the media that he thought Gray was "intentionally trying to hurt himself." He later recanted this statement. A search warrant application describes Gray during transportation as "irate" and that he "continued to be combative in the police wagon."
Freddie Gray's toxicology report showed that he was under the influence of significant levels of cannabinoids and opium at the time he was hospitalized. This finding would be forensically consistent with the possibility of Gray swallowing the drugs he was attempting to sell in order to destroy evidence. The presence of drugs in Gray's system would also support his past criminal history as a drug dealer. In the past eight years, Gray had been arrested on no less than 14 occasions for felony possession of controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute. Again, Freddie Gray was only 25 at the time of his death.
The narrative presented by activists, including members of the BLM movement, is that the Baltimore officers involved in this incident murdered Freddie Gray. There are no forensic evidence or witness statements to date that support this assertion. The autopsy report detailing Gray's traumatic injuries and drug influence—and prisoner Allen's initial statements to police and the media—are far more favorable to the defendant officers than to the prosecution's theory of criminality. Therefore, the BLM movement's assertion that Baltimore police "murdered" Freddie Gray is unsubstantiated at this time. No officers have been convicted of any alleged criminal acts, and the trials for the six officers are still in progress after a mistrial in one case.
Statistics and Damn Lies
Perhaps the most damaging, utterly ridiculous, and patently false narrative advanced by the Black Lives Matter movement is that nationally, police officers kill a disproportionate number of black males during encounters.
After hearing it exclaimed time and again by BLM activists, I have determined that they say this as a deliberate scare tactic, hoping that no one will ever do the research and engage them. An excellent example of this tactic is what I heard one activist say on the Megyn Kelly show that I was on.
One BLM member told the audience, "One black man is murdered by police every 28 hours." That's absurd. Here's the truth.
The most recent data from the FBI says there were 56,250 homicides nationwide from January 2009 to the end of 2012; 1,491 of these killings were the result of police uses of force. This equates to an average of roughly 372 persons a year dying as a result of police force intervention.
Of the 1,491 persons who died as a result of police uses of force during the researched period, 61.4% were white males. Only 32.2% were black males, and 3.2% were males from other races. Females dying as a result of a police use of force comprised the final 3.2% of deaths.
By comparison, of the 56,259 homicides reviewed from 2009–2012, 19,000, or nearly 39%, involved the killing of black males. Of these, only 2.5% involved the death of a black male as a result of a police use of force. In contrast to police officers, private citizen killings of black males in self-defense/justifiable homicides, at 3.4%, were higher than black male deaths attributed to police.
What stands out as a significant and shocking statistic is that 17,719 criminal homicides (murders) of black males, or 93.3% from 2009–2012, were at the hands of other criminals who were predominantly other black males (89.6%). This is what is referred to as "black-on-black crime."
In sharp contrast to the false narrative that police officers have some racial motivation to kill black men, from 2009–2012, nearly 41% of murdered police officers were killed by black males; compare this to the 32% black male homicide rate mentioned above. This is significant, given the fact that blacks as a whole comprise only 13% of the U.S. population of over 316,000,000, and there are less than 900,000 peace officers in this country, including many who do not work in a street patrol capacity.
To put this study into perspective, an average of 120 black males, or one out of every 173,871 black males, die yearly as a result of police uses of force. When all homicides of black males are considered, black males are 35 times more likely to be murdered by another black male and 21 times more susceptible to being killed in a self-defense, justifiable homicide than killed by any police use of force.
A few more numbers: an average of 120 black males die each year as a result of a police use of force. University of Toledo Professor Richard Johnson's research has found that the chances that a black man will be killed by police, is less than his chances of being killed by a lightning strike. From 1995 through 2002, 374 persons were killed by lightning in the U.S. This averages out to 0.23 lightning deaths per million persons per year. During that same eight-year period, only nine black males were killed by lightning. In essence, Dr. Johnson is correct. The chance of a black male dying as a result of police force intervention is statistically considerably far less than his chances of being struck by lightning. That's far from the BLM movement's assertion that police kill one black male every 28 hours.
BLM's false assertion that police kill a black man every 28 hours doesn't even reconcile using their numbers. There are approximately 1,251 28-hour periods in the four-year period from 2009 through 2012. That is presumably how many black males would have been killed by police during this period if the BLM movement's claim were true. However, 32.2% of 1,491 deaths is 480 deaths. So, the "every 28 hours" claim is off by a whopping 250%.
Non-violent protest is protected under the First Amendment, and it can be healthy, informative, and change-effecting. However, the Black Lives Matter movement is none of those things.
Anytime a group marches and openly chants violent and life-threatening rhetoric such as screaming, "Pigs in a blanket; fry 'em like bacon!" and "What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!" as we recently observed in Minnesota and in downtown New York City, law enforcement officers need to be concerned for their safety.
That is how Adolph Hitler with his brown-shirted Nazi party, Mussolini and his black-shirted fascists, and Vladimir Lenin and his communists began their movements. If you recall, all of these movements began their ascents into power by spreading false narratives. It is also important to keep in mind that the Black Lives Matter movement is immersed in Marxist revolutionary and Black Nationalist ideology. So the lies they repeatedly shout in the streets and in front of the TV cameras closely resemble the rhetoric of these past revolutionary movements.
I am not concerned about the BLM's response that "only a relative few" of their members are extremists who shout violent rhetoric and commit acts of violence during demonstrations. It's just another false narrative not substantiated by the many video news stories documenting hundreds of Black Lives Matter movement supporters chanting violent, anti-police rhetoric. I am concerned that this entire movement was founded and exists primarily upon a pack of lies. And you should be, too.
Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V, BCFT, CFA, is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist, federal/state qualified police practices expert, and a certified medical Investigator who directs the nation's only multidisciplinary forensic death investigations and independent review team. www.DrRonMartinelli.com.