Kerwin Webb said he knows the terror that young Black men experience when being pulled over by police.
Webb said tensions are often high and adrenaline is rushing because in too many cases, Black people have lost their lives during police encounters.
So he understands why Jayland Walker led Akron, Ohio, police on a car chase and then ran on foot before eight officers fired dozens of bullets at him. Walker suffered at least 60 gunshot wounds.
“It’s the terror of knowing that no matter what you do, this may not end well,” said Webb, who heads a job and life skills program for young Black men in Asbury Park, New Jersey. “It’s an ingrained fear for your life. What is the best way for me to try to survive? It’s the reality of being Black in America.”
The police killing of 25-year-old Walker last month has reignited a conversation about the fear and panic Black Americans feel during police stops, with some suggesting that Walker ran because he wanted to survive.
Unarmed Black people are killed by police at a rate three times higher than White people, research shows. And many high-profile police killings of Black people in recent years started with a routine traffic stop. Notably, Philando Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in 2016. And in April, Patrick Lyoya was killed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by officer Christopher Schurr, who was trying to arrest him after a traffic stop in a case that has drawn national attention because of the circumstances leading to the shooting and the multiple videos that show Lyoya’s final moments.
Black leaders in Akron and across the country say the experience of Black people, including witnessing deadly police encounters, has created a level of fear that explains why an innocent person would still run.
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SOURCE: CNN, Nicquel Terry Ellis