Because They're Animals
“Capt. Coan would tell the field team . . . ‘They are f——-g animals. You make sure if you have to shoot, you shoot them in the head. That way there’s one story,’ ” said the retired detective.
The ex-cop, identified only as Undercover 7988, said Coan’s racist rant came before every search warrant executed in Brooklyn’s Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York from 2008 to 2010.
“They didn’t care if it was kids in there, they didn’t care if it was women in there, naked women,” the detective said. “. . . They treated them as if they had no rights whatsoever. It was disgusting."
This testimony came in depositions as part of a "federal discrimination lawsuit, details how Capt. James Coan and Lt. Daniel Davin created a hostile environment for both their black detectives and suspected minority-group gun traffickers, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Eric Sanders."
Davin used the N-word to address black suspects, while Coan considered the unit’s minority-group targets almost subhuman, the depositions indicate.
Shocking? Maybe, but Capt. Coan (who remains on the force, as does Lt. Davin) says it never happened.
In his deposition, Coan “absolutely” denied making the racist remarks. He acknowledged involvement in five shootings over the past 20 years — with two people left dead.
While in narcotics, Coan also shot and killed a pit bull. “He didn’t sue me,” the captain testified.
The second part of the above quote was gratuitously thrown in, just so you can appreciate the good captain's sensibilities.
For as long as I can remember, black and Hispanic defendants have told their lawyers stories of the epithets they were called, the treatment they received, the harm they suffered, at the hands of the police. Indeed, when a defendant arrived at arraignment unscathed, we often thanked the arresting officer for showing restraint. We seriously appreciated that we didn't have yet another client with the imprint of a gun on his head, or worse.
Sadly, there is little astounding that racial hatred remains within the police department. What is astounding is that it's taken so long for black and Hispanic police officers to come out publicly against other cops, superior officers, who consider people of color subhuman. The group, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, has been working to bring incipient racism to an end, but with surprisingly little support within their own ranks or the media.
And yet, despite past efforts to bring the ugly reality of the streets to light in the courtroom, the officer shows up in his clean and pressed uniform, shiny black gun belt gleaming, and in a calm and clear voice, with the slightest hint of naivete, proclaims that he would never, never, use such horrible and offensive language. Why, he responds when asked whether he has any animus toward people of color, would he possibly feel that way? He lives to serve the public. He's a cop because he wants to help people. Some of his best friends are black. Some of his team of cops are black. No, he would never be that way.
Even on those rare occasions when a cop is caught on video using outrageous racist language, or when they happen to smack the wrong black man, who turns out to be an elected official, it doesn't seem to make a dent in the systemic consciousness. As it's usually the claim of a defendant against a cop, judges close their eyes as tight as they can and see nothing.
A lot has changed since 1964, when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act began a cultural shift that has had a substantial impact on society. While we remain far from eliminating racism, and many still harbor the belief that blacks (for example) are more naturally suspicious, dangerous, criminal, we are making positive headway though we have a long way to go.
And yet, there remains a bastion of racial hatred within our society, and the problem is that they wear shields, carry guns and are placed on a pedestal by the legal system.
Not every cop is racist. Not every cop believes that perps are animals, unworthy of living. Not every cop who breaks into a house would prefer to kill whoever is inside rather than risk any possibility that he gets a paper cut. But some still do, and it's unclear what it will take for this to sufficiently trouble the cops, the prosecutors and the judges who do not support such conduct.
The suit against Coan and Davin is a big deal. It's shocking, or at least it should be. That's why you read so much about it, in every newspaper, on every blog, everywhere. Or not.