Black Officer involved in Shooting Hispanic Suspect: Did Race Affect Media Coverage?

by Project Censored

Dillon Taylor was a 20 year old Hispanic male who was shot down in a 7-11 parking lot after a call came in to a local police station stating a group of males had reportedly been seen flashing a gun. Officer Bron Cruz responded to the call, drove up to the 7-11, saw Taylor and two other young men who fit the description of the suspects. On top of that, Cruz noticed that the men had been making a disturbance. Cruz approached the men with two other officers. Upon being approached, the two men accompanying Taylor complied with officers, put their hands up and were searched. Taylor on the other hand was noncompliant and began walking away. Cruz followed Taylor and noticed that Taylor had his hands in his waistband indicating he was harboring a concealed weapon, Cruz told Taylor to put his hands up and Taylor replied, “No, fool” and turned around so that he was facing Officer Cruz. Cruz then asked again for Taylor to put his hands up. This time when Taylor went to pull his hands out of his waistband, he was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen. These fatal shots ultimately ended up killing him. After dying, Taylor was searched and in fact did not have a gun on him. During trial, Cruz was found not guilty for the fact that at the time, he had reason to believe that his life was in danger. Cruz however still harbors guilt for murdering an innocent man.

Many people outside of Utah do not know this story because it was not covered on mainstream media to the same extent as other alleged cases of police abuse of power. Critics say that the lesser coverage was because of the fact that Dillon Taylor was white and the officer who killed him was black. If it was reversed and Taylor was black and Officer Cruz was white then would the story have gotten more coverage? A shooting similar to Dillon’s took place two days prior and received greater coverage on the news. Why? Critics believed that it was because the young man was black and the officer ending the young man’s life was white.

Sources:

Andres Jauregui, “Officer’s Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Man Dillon Taylor Was Justified: Prosecutors,” Huffington Post, 10/01/2014.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/01/dillon-taylor-shooting-justified_n_5912976.html

Cassandra Rules, “Body Cam Shows Unarmed Dillon Taylor Shot While Walking Away- DA Rules it “Justified,” The Free Thought Project.com, September 30, 2014.
http://thefreethoughtproject.com/body-cam-shows-unarmed-dillon-taylor-shot-da-rules-justified/

Student Researcher: Amy Kennedy, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College

Ethics Alert

Lack of adequate media coverage might be more excusable if there was no question that the officer was justified in shooting the suspect to death.  But was he?

Even though there was a call made, officers should have taken their time and investigated more thoroughly. Taylor had walked away because he had a record already and was trying to avoid confrontation and stay out of trouble because he was in fact intoxicated, having a Blood Alcohol Concentration level of .18. Already having a record, if he would have gotten caught drinking underage and being intoxicated in public, Taylor would have gotten into a lot more trouble if he was caught rather than someone who did not have a previous record.

Bron could have easily taken down Taylor without actually shooting him. Bron had backup, the training, and seemed to be bigger and stronger than Taylor. Bron definitely could have overpowered Taylor but instead Bron chose to end Taylor’s life. Was it for the overall greater good of the community? Or was the shooting just out of paranoia and fear for one’s own life?

Bron killing Taylor could be viewed as an act of self-defense like Bron’s lawyers portrayed; but it could also be viewed as treating a human like a thing that is easily disposable. Bron probably wasn’t thinking about the consequences of his actions. He probably wasn’t thinking of Taylor’s family or his future. Taylor could have had a baby girl at home waiting for her dad to get back. Bro was only thinking of himself.

In court, the judge’s verdict was “not guilty” for Bron Cruz. Cruz’s legal argument was that Taylor did nothing to deescalate the situation and that he legitimately believed that there was going to be a gunfight when Taylor turned around. The lawyer representing Taylor stated, however, that the judge’s ruling supported police brutality and paranoia.

One shot would have sufficed in the case of Dillon Taylor. Officers could clearly see he was intoxicated, which made his reactions and judgment-making abilities slower. So by firing that second shot, Bron excessively shot Taylor and that second shot to the chest was probably the fatal shot that ended Taylor’s life that August day.

Given the circumstances of the shooting, did this case not deserve as much coverage by the media as other cases of apparent police abuse of power ending in a fatal shooting?