Friday, a mostly white and Hispanic jury failed to convict Jonathan Aledda, a white, Hispanic North Miami Police officer, of shooting a black behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey.
It didn’t matter that Kinsey was lying on the ground. It wasn’t important that he had his hands up. The jurors didn’t even care that Kinsey begged police not to shoot or that a commander had told the officers not to fire. They deadlocked on three charges and acquitted on one.
The decision is sure to divide us. It is even more certain to send a message to white people and police officers that they can shoot black people without fearing punishment.
This all happened because the jury system is rigged against African-Americans. In this trial and in most others, blacks are underrepresented.
As Ashish S. Joshi and Christina T. Kline wrote on the American Bar Association website in 2015, jury pools and juries are overwhelmingly white. Joshi and Kline quoted a federal judge who said, “Unless you are totally blind, a judge cannot help but realize that when 100 people come into court for jury selection that there are one or two, or none, who are visible minorities.”
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It is also a problem because so many of the white and Hispanic people who serve on juries are racist. I am not saying every nonblack person in Miami is this way. But I am saying most are.
Jonathan Aledda was guilty and he got away with it. The same thing happened after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in 2012. It makes the court system look bad, and it makes every nonblack person in Miami-Dade County look worse.
In 1989, when Hispanic Miami Police Officer William Lozano shot a black man, Clement Lloyd, and got away with it, riots broke out. That won’t happen this time, but the reaction will be equally violent — on social media. And maybe that’s good. People who run our government listen to social media. And sometimes they change the laws.
In the future, no judge should let a trial continue if the jury doesn’t represent the demographics of the community. If you select a jury with too few or no black people, you will get the wrong verdict. And that will cause more needless deaths and separate the community even more.