Dion Damon: Another White Victim of a Fatal Police Shooting

As begun the other day, Thought Front is continuing its series of white individuals killed by law enforcement officers – not to take aim at or try to debunk any narrative that African-Americans are most at risk to excessive force, but to quell any complaints that whites subjected to fatal shootings do not receive attention.

There is one theme that comes up multiple times: that law enforcement officers often justify fatal shootings based on vague feelings of being “threatened” by ambiguous body gestures – such as Philando Castile being shot for moving his hand after an officer told him not to move, or Dylan Noble not keeping both hands up and moving one hand near his waist when he was already shot twice and on the ground.

One case was Dion Damon, who was fatally shot in April in Denver. Officers were trailing Damon in his car in order to serve him with an arrest warrant for allegedly robbing a bank at gunpoint in March. Although the robbery suspect was disguised, Damon was suspected based on an anonymous tip, and the claim of a gang member who said Damon did it and was a fellow member.

When Damon parked his car next to the Denver Art Museum. and his wife and son exited the car so that she could pay a parking ticket, officers approached the car and drew their guns, demanding Damon get out with his hands up.

Damon’s wife said she told officers he was unarmed, and begged them to let her coax him out, to no avail.

After one minute, Denver police officer Jeff Motz – who already had nine complaints of excessive or inappropriate force on his record – fired seven shots at Damon.

Why? Because according to Cmdr. Ron Saunier, Damon made “non-compliant gestures” and a “threatening-type maneuver” that led Motz to presume Damon had a gun.

What exactly are “non-compliant gestures” or a “threatening-type maneuver”? Saunier gave no further details.

Saunier tried justifying the shooting further by pointing to Damon’s criminal record, calling him “a very dangerous individual.” However, an investigation by the Denver Post found arrests only for minor crimes like shoplifting. He had only one conviction, for extortion.

Saunier also argued that Damon was more willing to shoot people because, when he allegedly robbed a bank (if it was even him), he ordered people to get on the ground face-down. Apparently that makes someone more threatening than a bank robber who lets people stand.

So, as with other cases, some ambiguous gestures were enough for a law enforcement officer to feel threatened and fatally shoot a man. A man who was suspected of bank robbery based only on an anonymous tip and the claim of a gang member, two sources that are not inordinately reliable.

It appears an investigation into the police shooting is ongoing.