Two weeks ago, I wrote that it was open season on black men after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of killing unarmed Travyon Martin.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in northern Florida proved me right. It’s not even safe for a black man to stand on his own property without being shot.

Last week, Roy Middleton, who was also unarmed, was shot by police in his own front yard while grabbing a cigarette from his mother’s car that was parked in the driveway.

“It was like a firing squad,” Middleton told reporters.  “Bullets were flying everywhere.”

A neighbor saw someone reaching into the car and called 911. While Middleton was looking into the car, sheriff deputies showed up, assumed Middleton was a thief, and shouted: “Get your hands where I can see them.”

Middleton, 60, said he thought it was a neighbor joking with him, but then he saw the deputies looking deadly serious – and with their guns drawn.

And with his hands raised, silent, and not resisting arrest, the deputies opened fire, with one bullet tearing through Middleton’s leg.

Middleton is fortunate that he wasn’t killed. And since the shooting, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has remained silent.

“I’m just glad they didn’t hit me here or here,” Middleton said from his hospital bed, pointing toward his head and chest. “My mother’s car is full of bullet holes though. My wife had to go and get a rental.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting and the deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on paid administrative leave.

But questions surrounding the shooting are endless. Why did the deputies open fire on Middleton without asking who he was? Why didn’t they run a check on the car in the driveway? Why didn’t they ask Middleton for ID? Why are these cops still being paid?

And why did they automatically assume Middleton was a criminal? Because Middleton is black.

A teenage girl who said she witnessed a portion of the incident said she never saw Middleton provoke the deputies.

“He wasn’t belligerent or anything,“ she said.

By acquitting Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, the all-female jury of five whites and one Hispanic set a dangerous precedent by giving neighborhood watch captains, would-be cops — and sheriff’s deputies —  the legal authority to shoot black men first and ask questions later.

Middleton’s shooting underscores my point that overzealous police – and random gun owners – continue to use the Zimmerman verdict to justify shooting black men who they feel look suspicious even if the black men are standing in their own driveways.

Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama told the nation that racial profiling still exists and he told his truth about experiencing racism as a black man in America.

“We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities,” Obama said.  “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.”

Clearly, the sheriff’s deputies of Escambia County Florida didn’t embrace Obama’s message. They weren’t trying to be compassionate or understanding. They saw a black man – and they opened fire.

Meanwhile, Middleton said he doesn’t understand why he was shot. He also said deputies never offered him an explanation or an apology.

“Even if they thought the car was stolen, all they had to do was run the license plate,” he said. “They would have seen that that car belonged there.”

But for these overzealous Florida cops, it was easier to shoot Middleton rather than logging his name into their on-board computer because he’s a black man and by definition, he’s suspicious.

How many more unarmed black men have to be shot before this racial madness ends?

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25 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Open Season Continues – Police Light Up Black Man for Reaching for a Smoke

  1. mitsu on said:

    My only question is, “who is this neighbor?”, and why would they even call the cops in the first place. Are they some nosey white folks? or are they retarded, or both.

  2. Mr Cottman, thank God you are alive! NOW, find yourself a really good attorney and sue the &**^*%# out that police department and every single one of those so-called “officers of the law”

  3. Honestly on said:

    This f**king country was founded on the tenets of racism. This is not a democracy for African Americans, it is an atrocity. The home of the so called brave, built by slaves. The system which we find ourselves in was not put in place to protect us, it was implemented as a tool of torture for by beloved brothers and sisters. These cave n!@@ers can’t meet their demise soon enough. They should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  4. Sadly, I do not believe there is an absolute answer to Cottman’s last question, but it seems as though the real answer is never, or when all Blacks are dead.

  5. Michele on said:

    I like Tom Joyner show but do agree that he should not have his black family reunion in FL – I will not be attending.

  6. I was just reading an article about a young black female that was pregnant and homeless. She is also the step daughter of Mary J. Blige. 90% of the comments were condemning the young lady and telling her to take responsible for her actions (reasons why she is in that situation and not blame her parents). I’ve seen plenty of these articles of us acting badly and then us bashing them for it and calling for them to be accountable for their actions but when we have articles like this where the culprit is of the other race we will ask all kinds of questions about our behavior and try to understand why these perps did what they did and not hold them accountable but make excuses as to why and how you can understand why they act the way they act. It’s is so dishardening to read these comments. You will blame the victim if ot’s your own people but will fine every excuse and reasoning in the book for those that are clearly in the wrong. Do the black community need work…. yes it does! Just like all the others but we need to stop attacking our own along with the attackers.

    • Wildflower,
      I had not heard the story until you posted it. (I read it on “Hello Beautiful”.)
      I do not know what site you found the article, but some of the comments made me consider their opinions. Some have said that there is more to the story. Maybe. Some have said that the father of her child should be doing something to help her, and she is no longer a minor. True. I THINK you are suggesting that these commentators should not criticize the young woman, and I agree. However, as someone stated, there is more to the story or as my Mother used to say there are two sides to every story, sometimes three.
      The article I read did not state why the parents have turned her away, but I will agree with one poster who said that she should stop “blasting” them on Tweeter, but call them and make peace.
      No one is perfect, and sometimes we have to grovel.

  7. i agree with sister sharon tjms don’t mind putting other celebrities personal life’s on display and cracking jokes about there lives you and j anthony talk about you guys business it’s hush hush!

  8. SISTER SHARON on said:


    • All caps and making no sense. Instead of placing and keeping your frustrations where it belongs …. the Florida police Dept. you want to attack other blacks and then say some sh*# like we need to stick together after you just alienated the “we”. People get a grip.

    • Sister Sharon,
      Whether or not we “come together as one” still does not explain why this man was shot!
      Tom explained why he was not canceling his family reunion. He said that it was because people – Blacks included – would lose their jobs. After I heard other celebrities were following Stevie Wonder’s plan, I had to wonder just where WOULD they go!??? (Almost half of the States have a “Castle Doctrine”; including mine.)
      You art correct, Dr. King boycotted the bus station but how many Blacks were working for public transportation – at that time?
      I find it laughable that you deem Tom as selfish, as he supports MANY Black organizations, groups, colleges and individuals. (He has helped more than just one Rachel Jeantel.)
      Sister Sharon, why on earth are you YELLING? Additionally, why on earth are you calling Tom the n-word?????…in this platform!?
      I agree that the TJMS folks talk about everybody and shield their private lives, but that is what they do. I can only suggest that if you do not like it, then do not listen [to the show.] I do not always agree with everything they say, but I have a choice to turn them off. Perhaps you too should do the same.
      In the mean time, STOP YELLING AT US!
      (I sense that you need a hug.)

  9. The reason blacks still go thru police shooting blacks and killing are due to separation of certain blacks due to who has better gene then who and envy. Their are black men and women suge knight, dr. dre, ice cube, and young money(lil wayne) who who are know to set blacks up for failure and kill there own with out any regards while worshipping white men. Please my people lets start worrying about each other and start building dynastys and stop putting or trust in men and women who look at since all the women got falt ass; I’ll set up the big booty girl or my kid got missing arm and legs and I’ll blow your kids off too or where made out of incese because they should never out weight us in whole but maybe a few do have a gift but it will never be half in half their not natural in birth to this life or thinking. There a war out there people need to start sacrificing and figure what side are you on and be ready for anything because white people don’t care. Even short men are starting to have the separa

  10. Patty on said:

    My question is why are we such a fear based society that it is acceptable to “shoot first, ask questions later” when dealing with anyone that is somehow interpreted as suspicious/criminal/scary looking? I agree that race is a major factor in putting people in that category, but I feel that racism is secondary to simply rampant fear being the primary cause of these horrible incidents.

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