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The Killing of Reynaldo Cuevas: You might get chocolate in my peanut butter but it’s not going to cause my gun to fire

All the New York papers are reporting on the NYPD shooting and killing of an innocent, unarmed, young Bronx man as he fled a bodega where robbers had held him and the store manager at gun point.  Two different video cameras caught two different angles of the officer’s shooting which the NYPD is calling a cut and dried case of an unfortunate accident.   As is their wont, NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne and Police Chief Ray Kelly are throwing an “everything but the kitchen sink” array of reasons at us, explanations and excuses (many of them self-contradictory, all of them unconvincing) to try to put this to bed and get us all to move along.

However, recently the NYPD’s indiscriminate and senseless lethality has made being a brown person in the city look about as safe as a year on THE DEADLIEST CATCH.  NYPD killings and shootings have made Kelly and Browne rerun their dog and pony show like it was an herbal viagra infomercial.  These guys have gone through the motions so many times, it’s apparent they’re on auto-pilot with their excuse making.  How many deaths did they think they could explain away with the same set of excuses before people started to call them on their BS?

Even if the complacency of the NYPD big wigs had not left us finally spoiled for a fight, I should think this time Obi Wan on his best day could not convince us that there was “nothing to see” in what happened in the Bronx Friday night.  The video evidence is just a few seconds of B&W surveillance tape, but it is so indisputably at odds with and calls into question the entire official narrative.

I was speechless after seeing this video—it will stop cold anyone who was ready to give the flatfoot the benefit of the doubt.  I mean, cheese and crackers!!  How does the leadership of the NYPD get in front of the public and try to sell such a pathetic line of BS and do it with a straight face AND avoid being struck by lightning?!

First of all (and I have thousands of hours on the pistol range under my belt emboldening me here), stipulating that we are dealing with the kind of sophisticated, precision, well-cared for firearm that the NYPD uses, the whole notion of a sidearm “accidentally” discharging because of being even significantly jostled is a movie myth right up there with simultaneous orgasms and witness stand confessions.  A shot was fired because this officer deliberately put his finger around the trigger and deliberately squeezed off a round.  Even if he REALLY were Barney Fife, and even if he took a direct hit from the Giants’ Rocky Bernard, his gun is not going to fire without his pulling the trigger.  The physics don’t allow it.

Now, the video…it bears mentioning that Reynaldo Cuevas was no Rocky Bernard himself but a skinny, light in the ass kid.  Furthermore, he had just barely emerged from the bodega when he encountered the cop.  He had, what, maybe three strides before the “collision”?  The NYPD is attempting to characterize him as some kind of speeding freight train (who, by the way, had his EMPTY hands plainly visible out in front of him) that, of course, would a) be seen by the hapless officer as life-threatening and b) have the force to jar a bullet clean out of its shell casing.  The truth is he was probably on the verge of hysterics—who wouldn’t be—and did not have the time or distance to be even at a “run”.  In what universe does a kid coming at you like this, weaponless and unthreatening, make a cop feel like he needs to squeeze off a bullet or two?

After looking at the tape dozens of times it is clear that Cuevas is essentially STUMBLING—not running—at the cop.  Look at how Cuevas already looks doubled over before he even reaches his killer.  There’s no real solid contact between these two.  No, what happens is—and here is where I could not believe I was seeing what I was seeing–Cuevas staggers into the cop (who seems amped to the gills).  The cop shoves Cuevas onto the ground, STRADDLES HIM, then shoots him.  It’s quick but undeniable.

To those of you who plea, “Oh, think of how awful the poor cop feels.  Surely it was an accident.  Does anyone REALLY believe that this brave public servant got up that morning and decided he was going to go out and cap some kid?”  Of course he did not.  He did, however, do what the past ten years of watching the NYPD convince me the majority of New York’s men and women in blue do every day when they come to their jobs.  He hit the streets for another day of being the authoritarian: kicking ass, swinging dick, and generally making himself feel less insignificant and more powerful by shoving around and bullying anybody that looks at him funny.  He rattles cages and spreads intimidation safe in the impunity his uniform affords him.  He does this with an array of lethal and pain/injury inducing “toys” at his disposal which the NYPD encourages him to use when it suits him.  The NYPD shields him from any consequences that might arise from his cruelty, his violence, and his corruption, and his co-workers keep all his antics a secret.  Anyone who stands up to him cedes his life and liberty to the caprice of the NYPD.

Is murder on his daily schedule?  No, but when it happens, his brethren and his superiors are there to help block the blame and minimize the inconvenience.  Killing someone is to be avoided but not really that big a deal is it?–slows down one’s career path not one naught and gets you days or even weeks of paid vaca!  Yee-haw!

Oh, yes, note the officer’s immediate unexplained trip to the hospital.  This is what they do—it’s NYPD SOP:  get the killer-cop away from anyone who might ask him questions until everyone has their stories straight and evidence needed has been fabricated or incriminating evidence has been destroyed.

The good news?  Even the NYPD can’t keep Cuevas from visiting his killer’s dreams, and I hope this trigger happy misfit sees the dead boy’s face every night when he closes his eyes and every day when he opens them in the morning.

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Ken Hardy

Ken Hardy