Family seeks justice for youth killed by cops

Larry Hales

“They´ve taken my son—they won´t take anything else from me,’ said Bobby Bonner. Aurora, Colo., police gunned down his son, 20-year-old Jamaal Bonner, an unarmed Black male, in December 2003. Community leaders have rallied behind the Bonner family.

Bobby Bonner and Brenda Bonner have vowed that they will continue to seek justice for their slain son. They filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Aurora after a grand jury failed to bring charges against the cop who shot him.

The story of the night Jamaal Bonner was killed is suspect, and has changed many times. Bonner was netted in what cops call a sting. He was approached by an undercover cop, dressed up as a prostitute. The cop was wired and is heard on tape asking if Bonner would come to her room in a nearby hotel.

Bonner replies, “No.’ He is heard saying “no’ on the tape several times.

The undercover cop continues to press him, but Bonner insists that he only wants to sell a small amount of drugs that he had on him.

The cop buys some of the drugs and lures Bonner back to her room. She goes into the bathroom. That's when SWAT officers break into the room. At this point, the video and audio tapes are turned off.

The story of what happened next has never been consistent, but both ballistics and forensic evidence show that Jamaal Bonner was hit with fire from a tazer and shot three times in the back at pointblank range. Every bullet had a downward trajectory.

Bonner was unarmed. He was most likely on his knees when he was shot. Yet the officers say he made a threatening lunge.

That this young Black man was slain in cold blood seems obvious, especially since three of the five cops who were in the room have testified that Bonner was on his knees when shot. Only Bill Woods, the shooter, says Jamaal Bonner was on his feet.

Shortly after the shooting, the media, city officials and police tried to justify the killing by dragging out Bonner´s history. Before the grand jury hearing, the assistant district attorney told the Bonner family that they shouldn´t believe that the case was a slam dunk, because “no one wants to jeopardize a cop´s career.’

It is clear that Jamaal Bonner was slain. Regardless of what Bonner´s past may have been, what has to be clarified is what is truly criminal: that young people, especially young people of color, have few options open.

Bonner had as much potential as the great majority of young people. But this brutal capitalist system, to which racism is endemic, invariably pushes the poor and people of color toward illegal acts, as legal ways of earning a living are closed to them.

The effects of the lack of a decent public-school system, of health care, jobs, housing and true solidarity under capitalism are visited upon the most oppressed in society. It's all to keep people divided, so the plunder of labor can continue unabated.

Police are tied to this system. They are the armed wing of the ruling class, terrorizing workers, the poor and people of color, and protecting the rulers' interests. Their brutality stems from this. And they are more brutal in communities of color, because of the history of struggle of the oppressed—the vanguard in the struggle to overthrow this capitalist system.


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