The evening of July 26 started as an ordinary night for 19-year-old Zachary Hammond. As any young man his age, he enjoyed spending time with his friends. That night, he drove to a Hardee’s parking lot in Seneca, South Carolina. In the passenger seat was a young woman who had arranged to meet someone there to sell a bag of weed. It’s unclear what Hammond knew about the transaction, but they had any idea that the buyer was actually an undercover police officer. What followed is truly heartbreaking.
The 19-year-old was shot dead. There’s disagreement about the actions leading to his death. What we know about how Hammond ended up dead in a minor marijuana sting depends on whom you believe.
According to Seneca Police Chief John Covington, a uniformed officer, who was there to support the undercover cop, was approaching Hammond’s vehicle. In a moment of panic, Hammond drove the car at the officer, who, fearing for his life, fired twice into the vehicle, striking Hammond’s upper torso, killing him at the scene., as reported by the Huffington Post.
However, Eric Bland, a lawyer for Hammond’s family, says that the officer shot Hammond twice from behind and that an autopsy supports this claim.
Police defended their action saying that “the bullets that struck Hammond were fired from near point-blank range through the open driver’s side window.”
This detail has raised some serious questions amid a string of police killings in which the official law enforcement narrative has not always been truthful.
Did the officer shoot because his hammond was beginning to flee? Was the officer truly in danger? Or does the fact that he was so close to the vehicle when he fired indicate otherwise?
Several media outlets have requested the police dashcam video, reportedly turned over to state investigators, but police is concerned about releasing the footage to the public.
This tragic event highlights a truth many white Americans seem reluctant to face: while bad policing may take a disproportionate toll on communities of color, police violence can affect anyone – their friends, cousins, brothers, sisters, even themselves. So, a united call for reform would benefit all us.
In the absence of much mainstream media coverage, many people in the Black Lives Matter movement have taken the most active role in Twitter, making sure Hammond’s name and story are heard.
We are not calling for riots on the streets, or civil disobedience. But the media’s apathetic response to the killing of this young man is truly disturbing. When a black person is killed by police, the roar is almost immediate. So I ask: Where’s the outrage over hammond’s death?
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We hope they can find solace in justice.
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H/T: The Huffington Post