The 41-year-old father remains in critical condition.
When Tasha Wade observed her boyfriend, Larry “Sincere” Bouie, “acting crazy” in the middle of a street in Paterson, New Jersey, she called 911 for emergency help. But when police arrived at the scene, instead of asking questions or issuing commands, Wade says one of them promptly shot Bouie in the abdomen.
On Saturday night, Sincere and Wade were out with their 9-year-old sons when their car battery died near a police station. According to Wade, Sincere left the car to find help, and ran into his brother, Greg Bouie, who was selling merchandise on a nearby street. Greg was too focused on his business to assist, so Larry walked back to his family. That’s when he started exhibiting signs of emotional distress, yelling in the middle of the street.
Wade called for medical help, but police arrived instead. Moments later, she says, an unidentified female officer fired a single bullet into Bouie’s abdomen.
“He was wilding and going crazy,” Wade said. “We tried to call an ambulance and calm him down, but couldn’t calm him. Then police came. She got out of the car, he was still acting crazy, she pulled out her gun, and she shot him.” Wade and Greg both maintain that Bouie was unarmed.
Although the 41-year-old survived the shot, he remains in critical condition at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center. On Sunday, Wade and Greg reported to local news outlets that police prevented them from seeing Bouie at all.
The shooting is currently under investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. Authorities have yet to release the name of the officer involved, though the Paterson chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM) is now demanding her name.
“Instead of de-escalating when called, officers instead escalate with violence, leaving the victim injured or worse,” BLM organizer Zellie Imani said in a Sunday press statement responding to the shooting. “Investments in sensitivity trainings for police do not necessarily reduce frequency or increase accountability in police killings of community members. They simply expand an already bloated police budget. Instead, those funds should be taken away from police departments and invested in agencies and institutions specifically trained to support individuals in need.”
BLM started a Change.org petition over the weekend, demanding not only the name of the officer who shot Bouie, but the creation of an independent and transparent Civilian Complaint Review Board with investigatory powers.
Imani told ThinkProgress that police are regularly called about community shootings, but they are often too slow to respond. When officers do intervene in a timely way, as in the case of Bouie’s shooting, they make things worse.
“There’s this thing where people want safety, but we realize that safety isn’t coming from the police officers themselves,” Imani said. “When we do call them for support, someone ends up being harmed that wasn’t supposed to be harmed.”
When a situation goes south, officers are rarely disciplined. But the Paterson Police Department has lost several lawsuits to victims of excessive force, including Greg Bouie, who recently received $39,500 from the the city for an officer beating.
Records from the Internal Affairs division of the PPD show that the number of excessive force complaints against officers in the community reached a five-year-low in 2014. Although city leaders credited increased sensitivity training and “early-warning systems” that identify police who could pose future problems and need more training, local attorneys say problems with police abound. Lawyers also argue that the decreased number of complaints is likely due to the ineffectiveness of Internal Affairs, which deters people from filing any documents.
“[It’s] only when there’s a community response that we find some type of justice,” Imani added.
Data appears to back up Imani and other police critics’ claims. None of the 34 excessive force complaints filed in 2014 were sustained.