The news is out: [Stories about Black men spending years and even decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit are never stories you want to hear. But there are certain stories where the degree of racism, injustice and cruel behavior on the part of law enforcement and the criminal justice system is so inconceivably egregious that even the most desensitized of us who are well-exposed to American racism can’t help but be shocked.
On Wednesday, 45-year-old Termaine Joseph Hicks was exonerated of rape after spending 19 years in a Philadelphia prison. But Hicks wasn’t just falsely imprisoned. His only “crime” was attempting to help a rape victim, and for his efforts, he was shot three times in the back by police officers who then charged him with the rape and told blatant lies that ensured his conviction.
According to the Inquirer, Philadelphia police officer Martin Vinson reported that he shot Hicks in the chest or stomach as Hicks was pulling a gun from his pocket and lunging toward him. Hicks said the officer shot him in the back as he was reaching into his pocket for his phone to call 911. Forensic evidence of Hicks’ medical records and a new review of his clothing showed that only one man was telling the truth, and it wasn’t the cop. The analysis of Hicks’ clothes showed bullet holes in the back of his shirt but not the front.
Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin said that there was also evidence that police planted a gun they said they found on Hicks, noting that the gun was smeared with blood but Hicks’ coat pocket had no blood at all.]
All too common scenario in the US.