Buzzfeed’s Albert Samaha doesn’t mention that until the end of his excellent report on the traffic stop that led to Massey’s death, but it’s crucial for understanding how the shooting fits into the broader phenomenon of police violence in America.
Of the 743 police killings registered by The Washington Post between January and September 2015, 55—one in eight—involved officers who previously participated in similar incidents. As the New Republic reported last year, even when those incidents lead to disciplinary measures, police unions across the country have negotiated contract provisions that ensure the resulting records of abuse are erased.
Unbeknown to the local officials who approved his hiring as police chief of Eufaula, Ralph Conner, then an investigator in Montgomery, shot a 22-year-old in the back in 1983. It’s impossible to know exactly how that experience, and the impunity with which it was met, influenced his decision to shoot Massey three decades later. But the larger pattern it illustrates has emerged as a central one in the fight to assert accountability over law enforcement.
Bodycam footage obtained by Buzzfeed