" My Brother's Keeper " by Vernon Wilmer
Tee never stood a chance. By the time he was 13, he was selling drugs in D.C. and Md. for his oldest brother. A year later, he had the misfortune of being arrested by the most abusive police force in the area; Prince George's Police, or PG as everyone called them.
Like NYPD, these cops were well known for shooting, beating and violating civil rights, no matter how innocent the person was. And like NYPD, the cops were always found 'not guilty'.
Murder was sky high, Crack ruled the streets and the gangs were fearless. Add police brutality and you had a time bomb that exploded all over Tee, one night.
Police arrested Tee for selling drugs. However, he had initially ran from them and throw away the drugs as he ran. Since the police couldn't find the drugs, they had nothing to hold him on.
Anger, adrenaline pumping, a black kid mouthing off.....Some of those cops decided to teach him a lesson. Tee was a thin, wiry 5'5 teenager. Those cops were 3 times his size and age. While he was still in handcuffs, those cops beat the shit outta Tee.
Before it was over, they had broke his nose, broke his arm and busted his front teeth loose.
During the beating, Tee managed to get a hold of a cop's gun and started shooting. When the smoke cleared, one cop was dead, while 2 lay wounded on the floor.
Silence. Shock. Then all hell broke loose. More cops, ambulances, blood, lawyers that were already there chasing stories, reporters and the media all descended on the station at once. Word quickly spread that PG had beat a black kid and the kid killed them in retaliation.
Regular programming was interrupted to bring us the shocking news. An hour later the Sheriff's dept. called a press conference to contain the situation. They knew people were fed up with PG and a riot could break out over this, so they issued a statement.
A police spokesman confirmed that a "young drug suspect" had killed one officer and wounded 2 others
while attempting to "escape custody". An investigation was in progress. There were no more details at the time, but they would keep us informed as information became available.
Civil rights leaders and their lawyers also came to the station. They brought Tee's family so they could demand to see him, find out what condition he was in. After several hours, they were allowed to see him. He was a mess. Lying in a cell, bloody from head to toe, barely able to talk, he told them the whole story.
The lawyer insisted he be given medical treatment. The medical examiner confirmed that Tee's injuries, internal bleeding, cracked ribs, etc. were consistent with a severe beating given by persons much larger than the teenager. Excessive force was used. The injuries did not result from Tee failing as he ran from them or from resisting arrest as the police alleged.
A few days later, with eyes swollen to slits, arm in a cast, head bandaged, nose reset, front teeth reinstated, face swollen beyond recognition and limping, Tee appeared before a Judge.
The courtroom was packed with heavy security inside and outside. On the courthouse steps, reporters interviewed community leaders who insisted that Tee couldn't get a fair trial in that area. Protesters held
up signs condemning PG's history of brutality. At home and in offices, we were glued to the TV waiting
to hear what would happen next.
Inside, the Judge read off a litany of charges against Tee; first degree murder, 2 counts of attempted murder, resisting arrest, attempted escape, etc. Not one charge for drugs or what the police originally arrested him for. All those charges stemmed from what happened after the police beat him.
Months later, when all the evidence was in, the charges were reduced to manslaughter and Tee was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
What started as a drug bust, had turned into the destruction of countless lives. Civil rights groups and lawyers used Tee's case to pressure PG to end police brutality and racial profiling. Many law suits were filed and won. Some were personal cases and others led to PG's police force becoming more diversified.
In the meantime, Tee was doing hard time. The lawyers and community did not forget him though. Law suits and appeals led to him being granted parole. By the time he was released, Tee had done 7 years in prison. The officers that participated in the beating were found not guilty. They were 'released from the force' but given a pension anyway. Years later, one of the ex-cops would finally speak up and say that
Tee was not trying to escape when they beat him. But by then, it was too late.
When Tee got out, Union Temple Church and the people who helped him all along, stepped up once more. They raised money, got him an apartment, a job and counseling.
For a couple of years, Tee did very well. However there was one problem; his oldest brother was back in his life. He never visited him in prison, didn't send one dime, but now that Tee had money and a nice place, he wanted back in. And Tee let him in, even though he was still using and selling Crack.
With no job, the brother quickly used up all of Tee's savings. Before long he convinced Tee to quit his job and "make big money selling Crack"...again. No one knows why Tee went back to the very life that destroyed him in the first place, but he did. Several people tried to talk him out of it, but his brother's influence and the pull of the streets finally won.
Not long after hitting the streets again, big brother came up with a way to get more money to buy a larger supply of Crack. It was simple: just rob a liquor store as it was closing. They'd go in just before it closed, one of them would sneak in the back and wait til they locked up. Then come out, let the other one in and rob them stupid.They followed their plan to the tee.....pun intended. With thousands of dollars in their pockets, they ran out the back door and almost got away.
A police car was waiting out back. That store had been robbed so much that cops always showed up at closing to protect the owners. The officer ordered them to put their hands up and they did. Then the brother pulled out a gun, while Tee took off running.
The cop shot the brother and went after Tee. As they ran, the officer kept shooting until his gun was empty. With his back riddled with bullets, Tee staggered, fell and died instantly.
The irony, if there was any, was that the PG cop didn't know who he had killed, until the body was identified. And the one who identified the body was the oldest brother. He had only been grazed in the arm, so he was able to identify Tee's body on the spot.
What was the brother thinking as he looked down at Tee's dead body, swimming in a pool of blood?
Well....what ever he was thinking, he's had the past 20 years, in prison, to remember that moment, over and over again.