MSNBC Wrongly Implies Hispanic Police Shooting Victim Was Black

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

MSNBC is so stuck on the liberal media's false narrative that questionable police violence only involves one racial group, that even when, for a change, they highlight the case of a Hispanic male being killed, their regulars on Saturday morning reflexively assumed he was African American while discussing the case.

On the Velshi show, during a segment that included a discussion of the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago, host Ali Velshi and both of his guests implied that the Hispanic teen was black.

Setting up the segment, Velshi recalled the cases of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Toledo in Chicago, and George Floyd in Minneapolis. The MSNBC host made a point of describing Wright as a "20-year-old black man," but more vaguely called Toledo a "13-year-old boy" with no mention of race.

After bringing aboard Sonia Pruitt -- the former chair of the National Black Police Association -- and MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler as guests for further discussion, Velshi began with the case of Toledo in Chicago, noting that he was killed by police after he complied with dropping the gun he was holding. Pruitt hinted that Toledo was black as she began her analysis:

It is very realistic that that could have been handled quite differently, so here's what I want to make a point about. I want to highlight this argument that you hear about black people, in particular, not complying. So if -- then you give an order as a police officer, and you expect compliance, then you can't shoot and kill the person when they comply. This reminds me of the Philando Castile case -- another very tragic situation where a black man who was trying to comply with the orders of the officer, and he was shot and killed. This is the same thing, and this is a 13-year-old.

Velshi not only did not correct Pruitt on Toledo's race, but he even seemed to make the same assumption himself as he listed the Toledo, Wright and Floyd cases, and recalled some see them "all" as cases of "black men" who died during police actions: "They're all different because you can establish different levels of culpability -- of intent -- of reasonable expectation of what would have gone down. Yet, to a lot of people, they're the same. Black men are dead at the hands of police."

Butler went along with the same premise as he began:

Yes. And black men who, at the moment they are killed, don't appear to be posing any threat. Ali, you did some of the best reporting last summer from Minneapolis, and I'm sure you heard about George Floyd. If he had complied -- if he had just gotten into that car, he would be alive today. But, as the officer tells us, this young man in Chicago complied. The cop told him, "Put up your hands." He put up his hands, and that officer shot him dead.

Even though more than 70 percent of police shooting victims are not black -- which comes to about 700 out of 1,000 a year (including dozens who were unarmed) -- the fact that MSNBC focused on this one Hispanic shooting victim was actually unusual since both whites and Hispanics are typically ignored when they are killed by police actions.

This confused episode of MSNBC's Velshi show was sponsored in part by Subaru. Their contact information is linked.

MSNBC

Velshi

April 17, 2021

8:06 a.m. Eastern

ALI VELSHI: With me now is the founder of the Black Police Experience, Sonia Pruitt. She's a retired captain with the Montgomery County, Maryland, police department, and the former chair of the National Black Police Association. Also with me is former federal prosecutor, Paul Butler. He's a professor at Georgetown School of Law, and an NBC News legal analyst. He's the author of the book, Choke Hold: Policing Black Men. Good morning to both of you. Sonia, let me start please with what has happened in Chicago. There are people calling for a -- I don't know how police have to think about this -- a balance between the fact that they've got a phone call in the middle of the night about shots fired.

Most people would probably agree you need to call police about that, so they called 911. These police get dispatched. There do appear to be a gun or guns in the area, but that video is hard to parse, but, in the end, it does seem like a man who had his hands up was shot. Now, as Rehema Ellis was saying, police was saying that all happened in a fraction of a second. He shed a gun -- he put his hands up -- he got shot. His mother was saying, "Why did you have to shoot to kill? Why do you have to shoot in his chest?" Talk to me about how realistic it is that that could have unfolded differently?

SONIA PRUITT, FORMER MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE CAPTAIN: Good morning to everyone. It is very realistic that that could have been handled quite differently, so here's what I want to make a point about. I want to highlight this argument that you hear about black people, in particular, not complying. So if -- then you give an order as a police officer, and you expect compliance, then you can't shoot and kill the person when they comply. This reminds me of the Philando Castile case -- another very tragic situation where a black man who was trying to comply with the orders of the officer, and he was shot and killed. This is the same thing, and this is a 13-year-old.

I don't even know if training can help in this situation, but, as police, if you're going to give someone an order, you also need to give them an opportunity to follow that order, and the young man followed the order, and he was still killed. I cannot -- I just can't -- it gives me nightmares as the mother of two young men.

VELSHI: Yeah. Obviously, Paul, that situation; the situation that we saw in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, where this 26-year veteran on the police force announced and said she would use her taser, and yet pulled her service pistol and shot Daunte Wright; and in the case of Derrick Chauvin. They're all different because you can establish different levels of culpability -- of intent -- of reasonable expectation of what would have gone down. Yet, to a lot of people, they're the same. Black men are dead at the hands of police.

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. And black men who, at the moment they are killed, don't appear to be posing any threat. Ali, you did some of the best reporting last summer from Minneapolis, and I'm sure you heard about George Floyd. If he had complied -- if he had just gotten into that car, he would be alive today. But, as the officer tells us, this young man in Chicago complied. The cop told him, "Put up your hands." He put up his hands, and that officer shot him dead.

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