LAPD should release video of the Brendon Glenn shooting in Venice

By Tony Peyser

A public memorial to Brendon Glenn on Windward Avenue Photo by Joe Piasecki

A public memorial to Brendon Glenn on Windward Avenue
Photo by Joe Piasecki

When “Fruitvale Station” came out in 2013, the film seemed like a bold idea: the dramatic retelling of how an unarmed young black man was killed by subway police.

It’s now a story that feels very “been there, done that.”

This is not because Hollywood is pumping out similar movies. In the intervening two years, so many similar real life killings have played out in the news: Walter Scott in South Carolina, Anthony Hill in Georgia, Eric Harris in Oklahoma, Tony Robinson in Wisconsin, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown in Missouri and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

This, of course, is only a partial list of young black men killed — and I believe murdered — during encounters with police.

It’s a disturbing national trend that hit home recently with the death of a 29-year-old man killed during a May 5 encounter with police on Windward Avenue in Venice. He was not only unarmed but homeless, and apparently dealing with substance abuse and emotional struggles. Lest this become just another statistic, I must point out that he had a name (Brendon Glenn), a nickname (Dizzle) and a dog (Dozer).

Oh, and also a three-year-old son.

Doesn’t anyone in law enforcement use Mace anymore? It seems like quite an effective and non-lethal way to get even a disturbed individual’s undivided attention. I wonder if police have shied away from pepper spray because so many women are packing it their purses, perhaps making this once prominent law enforcement tool seem, well, kind of girly.

But maybe we should hold off on the pepper spray for a minute. Justin Palmer, also a black man, has accused police of using excessive force after he suffered a concussion and was pepper sprayed while … wait for it … recharging his electric car in a public park. All criminal charges (including resisting arrest) have been dropped, but Palmer is suing.

This 36-year-old married father of four sounds like a total gang-banger, doesn’t he? Probably belongs to the West Coast Prius Crips.

Palmer got beat up in April in a far-off place some of you may have heard of: Santa Monica. We know about it because a passerby captured video with her cell phone and posted it to Facebook.

As a society, decorum is often based on mutually accepted lies, i.e. “The check is in the mail” or “I only had two drinks.” For police departments across the country, the epidemic of police violence against black men means people are no longer buying familiar explanations of questionable shootings — “The perp went for my gun” or I saw him reach for something in his waistband.” I’m sure such claims have been made in honesty over the years, but in these times we’re just not buying them anymore.

That takes us back to Glenn. Security video footage of his death at the hands of LAPD officers has not been made public. At a raucous town hall meeting in Venice just two days after the shooting, LAPD Deputy Chief Beatrice Girmala said police would risk tainting the memories of witnesses if the video is released.

Other police departments handling similar issues didn’t seem to have this problem. Millions of people saw video of Eric Garner being choked to death and a horribly incapacitated Freddie Gray being dragged to a police van by officers.

Even if what Girmala says is totally on the up and up, complete transparency does not seem to be the order of the day. No wonder locals are skeptical and irate.

You may have missed another cop drama in the news lately. A dad in Covina was having a massive disagreement with his daughter and called for help from local police. Two officers went into the adolescent’s bedroom and, during a brief encounter with police, the girl suddenly pulled a handgun from her waistband and pointed it at the officers.

I was a dreadful math student, but I can figure this equation: Distraught Teen + Points Gun At Cops = One Dead Teenager.

But that’s not what happened.

The officers pulled out their weapons and ordered the girl to drop hers. She did as she was told and is now receiving psychiatric counseling.

The restraint shown by these quick-thinking policemen — relatively new to their jobs, mind you — is admirable and gives me hope for the future of law enforcement in such dark times.