Imagining an end to police indifference

By Emily E. Navarette 

Los Angeles, CA

Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was walking down a street in the Bronx, New York, when members of the Trinitarios gang spotted him. The 15-year-old, an aspiring detective and member of the NYPD Explorers Program, had been on his way to see a friend on June 20. Eight members of the gang—all grown men—savagely attacked him, stabbing him multiple times.

Guzman-Feliz collapsed outside St. Barnabas Hospital, blood streaming down his legs. People frantically called for help, but nobody came to his rescue. He died that night.

A video of his attack soon went viral. And another video, of the bloody aftermath, showed two officers standing to the side instead of helping him. This led to an NYPD review. “As part of the stabbing investigation,” ABC 7 reported, “the department became aware that two officers did not provide medical aid to Guzman-Feliz when he collapsed outside St. Barnabas Hospital.”

Police ineptitude does not only include excessive force, but also neglect of those in their community who require help. Though the police did not harm Junior, their neglect as bystanders may have hastened his death. It’s an officer’s job to protect everyone in their community. Police officers in Junior’s case had the opportunity to offer medical attention, but apparently chose not to.

Minority neighborhoods often have slower police response rates than affluent communities. According to a New York Post analysis of city data, ambulances in the Bronx arrived at emergencies, on average, in 14 minutes and 29 seconds. Meanwhile, Staten Island residents waited only 10 minutes and 26 seconds. With that difference, a medical situation can escalate and worsen—meaning some will die.

This was true in Laquan McDonald’s case. McDonald was a black teenager in Chicago. After a cop shot him 16 times, officers did not give him any aid. “In the dash cam video,” Fox 32 Chicago reported, “another officer walks up to McDonald’s body, kicks a knife out of his hand, but offers no first aid.” 

It is clear that many officers across the country show little concern for minorities. They are sworn to serve and protect us without discrimination. They should be held accountable for negligence, and fired if they don’t do their jobs. Our lives depend on it.

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