Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday because some of the players chose to kneel during the national anthem.
Pence tweeted in a statement that he stands with President Donald Trump and “everyone is entitled to their own opinions” but that he would not “dignify any event that disrespects, our soldiers, our flag or national anthem.”
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
But what Pence did not mention is why former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee in 2016 and why other Black players followed suit — to protest police brutality. And there’s yet another hashtag circulating on social media of the name of a Black man who needlessly lost his life at the hands of police.
Patrick Harmon, 50, was shot and killed on Aug. 13 after being stopped by a Salt Lake City police officer that said he rode his bicycle downtown without a required red rear taillight. One of three body cam videos released Thursday shows Harmon was shot in the back by Officer Clinton Fox while fleeing from three police officers on scene, although Harmon initially cooperated.
According to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, Fox said that before he fired the fatal shots, Harmon threatened to stab him with a knife.
WARNING: Video contains sensitive material.
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) October 5, 2017
In the video, Harmon is seen standing next to his bicycle speaking with officers who informed him of his active warrants. He complies when told to take off his backpack. As one of the officers begins to place handcuffs on Harmon, he attempts to run. Within seconds of chasing Harmon, Fox fires three shots.
After being shot three times, Harmon is then tasered. Officer Kris Smith said he “fired his Taser and simultaneously heard a gunshot.”
Harmon threatened to cut the officers with a knife and reached toward his pants with his right hand, Smith said.
He was administered first aid and pronounced dead later that night at an area hospital.
According to a letter Gill released on Wednesday, the D.A.’s Office declines to file criminal charges because “Officer Fox’s use of deadly force was ‘justified’ under Utah State law.”
Gill offered the officers’ account of the night of the shooting:
“On August 13, 2017, SLCPD Officer Smith saw a male, later identified as Patrick Harmon, ride his bicycle across all six road lanes and a median on State Street in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Officer Smith said he saw that Mr. Harmon didn’t have a required red rear tail light on his bicycle, although it was night. Officer Smith asked the male for identification and the male gave several different names and spellings. Officer Smith asked for backup.
“Eventually, Officer Smith discovered Mr. Harmon had active felony warrants (one for aggravated assault) and arrested him as SLCPD Officers Fox and Robinson arrived to help.
“Mr. Harmon broke away from the officers and ran. The officers followed. As he ran, Mr. Harmon said, ‘I’ll cut you,’ and turned and faced the officers with a knife. Officer Fox fired his weapon at Mr. Harmon, killing him.”
Gill’s report also says that the body cam video shows Harmon with a knife in his hand. He also said that investigators took pictures of the knife at the scene of the shooting.
Adriane Harmon, the deceased’s niece, said it was evident in the video that her uncle was frightened.
“He was scared. All he did was run,” she tearfully told The Guardian.
About 200 people gathered for a rally on Sunday outside Salt Lake City’s Public Safety Building. Black Lives Matter and Utah Against Police Brutality want an independent panel to convene subsequent investigations into those kinds of encounters, as well as unedited body cam video released within 24 hours of any police-involved shooting, according to the Deseret News.
“You can’t watch that video and not realize it is a clear case of murder,” Lex Scott, a BLM organizer, said. “It is one of the clearest cases of murder we’ve ever seen.”
He said the community wants the district attorney to resign.
Antoinette Harmon, the victim’s 54-year-old sister, said her brother might have been struggling with mental illness, which is the defense for Austin Harrouff, a now 20-year-old white male who committed murder.
Cops Subdue White, Male Killer Without Firing a Weapon
In August 2016, then 19-year-old Austin Harrouff, who is white, murdered a Florida couple, 53-year-old Michelle Mascon and her husband, John Stevens III, 59; bit off part of Stevens’ face; and stabbed a neighbor who intervened. Harrouff was subdued by police officers without deadly force. Sherriff’s deputies said they found Austin biting Stevens’ face and abdomen and that it took multiple officers, a Taser gun and a K9 unit to stop him. No shots were fired.
Jeff Hendriks, the assistant state attorney who is prosecuting the case, said in August that Florida state is not pursuing the death penalty against Harrouff, who was charged with two counts of first-degree murder with a weapon, attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and burglary of a dwelling with an assault or battery while armed. He remains at the Martin County jail without bail.
Officers said they thought he was high on a street drug named “Flakka,” but toxicology results showed no traces of the drug or any other hallucinogen in his system.
“Austin had a psychological break,” his attorney Nellie King said, according to USA Today. “There is a mountain of information about this young man that will substantiate his mental illness at the time of the offense.”
Harrouff even had the opportunity to explain himself in a TV interview on “Dr. Phil” in March.
Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed the reasoning behind the NFL protests during DiversityInc’s event on Sept. 27.
“Don’t Black lives matter?” Jackson said. “It’s not that other lives don’t matter. But, don’t Black lives matter?
“In a democracy, you’re supposed to pay a price for killing people.”
He listed Black men who perished in police-related deaths, including Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown and Walter Scott.
Scott was the same age as Harmon when he killed by police during a traffic stop in South Carolina, which is more than 2,000 miles away from Utah.
Scott was shot in the back and killed as he ran away from a white police officer in April 2015. A bystander caught the incident on video, including now-former Officer Michael Slager, 35, planting a Taser beside Scott’s body as he lay on the ground dying — not even attempting CPR.
In May, Slager pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Scott.