By OSCAR ECHEVERIA
Last week was a nightmare for Gordon Cole Jr. and his family in their home in Shelton, Conn. Cole’s mother in law called for a wellness check on Cole. Unfortunately, as is the case in virtually all of the United States, the “first responders” to medical emergencies and inter-personal disputes were police officers. Instead of using de-escalation techniques to peacefully resolve any potential conflict, five of the responding Shelton police violently manhandled Cole in the middle of the living room in front of his wife and young children, as shown in video taken by a family member.
As seen in the video, Cole sustained several injuries, including having hair ripped from his scalp. He is being held on several charges, including assaulting an officer at a Bridgeport correctional facility on a $600,000 bond. In the video, it is clear that any “resistance” was simply a natural reaction to the pain of having his hair aggressively pulled and being held down by the neck.
On Monday, Jan. 16, community organizers held a protest outside of the Shelton police station with the participation of Gordon’s wife, children, brothers, and mother. Protesters entered the police department requesting a statement to be made by officers. About 45 minutes had gone by before the police finally decided to come out and make a statement.
The response from the Shelton PD was wholly inadequate. When asked about the information around this case, they insisted that everything had been submitted as evidence and therefore could not be divulged. Despite a lack of news coverage or other public information, the SPD representatives insisted that everything was readily available online. One officer told a young protester, a working nurse and activist, to “google it.” They also have refused to release body camera video footage from the incident, saying that it has been handed over to the state and is therefore out of their hands.
As of now, this appears to be the only article reporting on the case. Why aren’t news outlets reporting on this, and what does this mean for local news in Connecticut?
This incident of a “wellness check” turning toward police brutality sheds light on the ways that police serve as a tool of repression against the Black community. In the United States, the police are one of the most prominent institutions that violently carry out racist violence, defend capitalist exploitation and property relations, and maintain the white supremacist backbone of U.S. capitalism. Instead of providing adequate mental health and social services, the ruling class in the United States uses police to intimidate and harass poor and working people, especially people of color, in need. The attack on Gordon Cole Jr. happened just days after LAPD officers had responded to Keenan Anderson’s request for help by tasering him to death.
Workers’ Voice calls for dropping all charges against Gordon Cole Jr., compensatory damage payments from the Shelton Police Department to him and his family, the firing of all officers involved with the violence against him and the following cover-up, and the immediate release of all police footage related to the incident.
Photo: Brandon Bell / Getty Images