Back from Iraq—and Shot by the Police
Revolution #035, February 19, 2006, posted at revcom.us
On January 29, Elio Carrion, a 21-year-old on leave from Air Force, was in a car being driven by his friend when they crashed into a fence in a neighborhood in Chino, 40 miles east of Los Angeles.
The two friends had just left a party celebrating Carrion's return from a six-month tour in Iraq. It is not clear what happened before the crash — but it is very clear what happened when a sheriff deputy arrived, because the late-night encounter was taped by someone that lives in the neighborhood.
In the video you see Carrion on the ground, his face illuminated by the flashlight of the sheriff hovering above him, just a few feet away, his gun pointed at Carrion. You can imagine a similar scene happening in Iraqi cities like Fallujah or Mosul. In fact, cable news channels have brought images like these to people all across the world: Images of heavily armed U.S. soldiers breaking down doors in the middle of the night, holding M-4 rifles above the heads of defenseless Iraqis.
According to the L.A. Times, the sheriff was yelling profanities at Carrion, telling him to "shut up." The sheriff then ordered Carrion to "Get up, get up." In the video you can see Carrion following the deputy's orders and hear him say that he was unarmed and in the military. At one point, Carrion says, "I'm here on your side." But his words, in this situation, meant nothing to the man holding the gun. In Iraq Carrion was part of the military that occupies an oppressed country and treats the masses of people as "the enemy"; and then he returned home to become the enemy.
"I'm going to get up," Carrions says in the video. But as he pushes himself up, the sheriff fires his weapon at him, striking him three times. Mariela Carrion, Elio's wife, later said that her husband was also kicked in the head, handcuffed and dragged after he was shot.
But this was not the end of the outrage. Elio Carrion was taken to the hospital as a result of three bullet wounds, one of which shattered his femur (the large bone extending from the pelvis to the knee). The day after he was supposed to be released from the hospital, detectives arrived to Carrion's parents' house without warning and demanded to know where he was.
And like in some other cases of police brutality caught on film, the man who taped the encounter, Jose Luis Valdez, is now sitting in jail, arrested days later after the shooting on an eight-year-old warrant in Florida. His fate is not yet known -- he is a Cuban citizen and was taken to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office after his arrest.
Meanwhile, the man who shot Carrion is walking around on paid administrative leave with no charges pressed against him, even though his murderous actions were caught on video.
The mainstream media has been doing their part to make sure the cop goes unpunished, putting on police officials and other talking heads to defend his actions with remarks like, "He was nervous" and "He really meant to say 'Get down,' not 'Get up,'" or that the deputy did what he did because he feared for his life (even though he was the one holding the gun).
Elio Carrion joined the Air Force straight out of high school and served obediently in Iraq. And, on that night in Chino, Elio Carrion did everything he was "supposed" to do in these situations--he obeyed commands, he didn't move without permission, and he told the deputy "I'm going to get up now," hoping that he wouldn't surprise or startle the man holding the gun. And he was shot anyway! Think about what this tells you about how this system views people, especially Blacks, Latinos, and other oppressed nationalities. This is a blatant and cold-blooded statement: "We'll shoot whoever we want, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstances we want, and there's nothing you can do about it."