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To the Editor:
On a rainy day, a 12-year-old boy was visiting his cousin in the south end of Hartford. They were listening to music, playing video games, and doing typical pre-teen stuff. In that same building, a drug raid was taking place. The drug dealers broke into the apartment the kids were in to escape through the back door, the cops ran behind the drug dealers without identifying themselves.
The police officers grabbed the kids and assaulted them before placing them into handcuffs. Later that evening, both were released to their parents. The 12-year-old had bruises on his back and the cop that assaulted him became known as a hero. A report was made, photos were taken, and an investigation took place. Nothing was found during the investigation. The statement of a 12-year-old boy was not enough evidence.
A year goes by and the boy is now 13. He stops by a pizza shop on the way home from school with a couple of friends. They leave the pizza shop, but get stopped by the police. The boys are patted down, finding nothing, the cops drop them off closer to home. The only crime committed by this group of boys … being the wrong color in a nicer neighborhood. This will not be the last time this young man’s civil right are violated.
Fast forward 30 years, headlines on social media and every news network are about George Floyd dying while being detained by Minnesota Police Officers. We later find out that he was actually murdered in police custody. I do not have the strength to watch the video, but the image of a murderer with his hand in his pocket and a knee on a handcuffed man is disturbing enough. Shame on the three officers that sat back and watched this crime take place. They all had the duty to protect and serve. No human being deserves to be treated like an animal, George Floyd did not deserve this and his family did not deserve to see him murdered on social media along with the rest of America.
As we watch this play out, you will hear things like stress and fatigue on the officer. The video tells a different story. Officers are trained to constantly reassess a situation, officers are trained in various holds and handcuffing techniques to prevent asphyxia, officers are trained to “protect and serve.” These four officers did not do what they were trained to do. They failed George Floyd and all of them should be held responsible for the outcome of that event.
I was that 12- and 13-year-old boy who was assaulted by a hero cop. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last time in my life where my civil rights were violated. The images bring back memories that I left behind. I pray that my two sons never encounter something like this. When is enough, enough? America has to do better.
Alberto Cortes, West Hartford
Retired Corrections Officer
Republican Candidate for State Representative in the 20th District