"Mistaken" for a Burglar Inside his own Home: White Judge says No Racism in Police Beating of Unarmed, Diabetic Black Man

Two white Hartford officers are accused of criminal wrongdoing after they pepper-sprayed, clubbed and handcuffed an unarmed Black man they found naked and disoriented inside his own home in May 2010. It wasn’t until after Burwell had been handcuffed and dragged outside naked except for a blanket that police confirmed he owned the home and released him.

Burwell is a Dartmouth College graduate and former track athlete at the school. He owns a gym in Lebanon, where his clients over the years have included hundreds of high school and college students. [MORE] 

From [HERE] A white federal judge has dismissed a Black man’s claims that he was subjected to excessive force by Hartford police officers because he was black, saying there was insufficient evidence to support his contention that officers were motivated by racial bias.

While much of Wayne Burwell’s lawsuit against Hartford police remains active, Judge Christina Reiss (in photo) recently threw out his most incendiary allegations — that he had been discriminated against because of his “race and color.”

More than two years after police were called to his townhouse on an erroneous report of a possible burglary, Wayne Burwell accused officers of a slew of civil rights violations when they brandished firearms and struck him with a baton after finding him naked, unresponsive and sitting on his toilet while in a comatose state.

“When police entered that bathroom, if they saw a white guy sitting there comatose, they would have assumed a medical emergency,” said Orford attorney Ed Van Dorn, whose firm represents Burwell. “But because they saw a black guy sitting there, they assumed burglar and criminal activity.”

The judge said that Burwell did not provide enough evidence that moved his claims “across the line from conceivable to plausible” — the claim was based on the assertion that police officers knew Burwell was black before deciding to handcuff him. (Smoking gun evidence such as racial slurs, white kkk hoods and pronouncements by the police such as, "I'm assaulting you because you are Black" is what the court was looking for. The court's fake search for tangible evidence from the mind of a bigoted decision maker ignores white supremacy as a system of oppression- is done only for show and will rarely result in justice for the victims of white supremacy.This is the refinement of white supremacy.

Here, white collective power is on display: white cops beat an unarmed Black man & accuse him of robbing his own house and his fellow white officers, the police chief, the judge and the prosecutor (in photo, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell who cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing in December 2012) support, defend, and finance the white officers “right” to beat him. [MORE]) 

Hartford police cruiser cam May 30, 2010 - police assault on unarmed diabetic Black Man in his house. 

“Although a close question, no court has apparently held that mere knowledge of a person’s race, coupled with an arguable excessive response, will suffice,” Reiss wrote in an 11-page ruling issued this month in U.S. District Court in Rutland.

Burwell argued that the officers demonstrated “a clear intent to discriminate on the basis of race,” when they still proceeded to forcefully take him into custody “in a manner that defies a racially-neutral explanation,” even after officers were informed Burwell could be having a medical episode.

The town argued that Burwell’s assertion was mere speculation, supported by no hard evidence.

Police were called to Burwell’s three-story townhouse in Wilder on May 29, 2010 by a housekeeper who told police that an intruder might be in the house and that the man in the home was black. Police said they found the home in disarray and filled with smoke and the blaring of fire alarms. Burwell was found sitting naked on a toilet in an incoherent state that police said they believed was drug induced. Three white Hartford police officers entered Burwell’s home with their guns drawn - apparently looking for anyone Black - any size  or complexion apparently was sufficient to the officers. 

“Show your f—ing hands up or I’ll shoot you motherf—–,” Officer Fredrick Peyton told Burwell upon first entering the bathroom, according to a police audio recording of the encounter that was filed in federal court as part of the lawsuit. “Put your hands up now,” the officer shouted. “Show me your f—ing hands.” In the subsequent moments, Peyton and Officer Kristinnah Adams screamed at Burwell 30 times to “put your hands up,” or “keep your hands up.”

But Burwell was essentially in a diabetic-like coma — he later learned that he had a benign tumor on his pancreas that caused his blood sugar levels to periodically plummet — and unable to respond.

“He’s sitting there comatose,” Van Dorn said. “All you have to do is look and see he’s unarmed.”

With Burwell failing to respond to their commands, Peyton and Adams showered him with pepper spray — Peyton later told investigators that he emptied his canister — and hit him with a metal baton approximately seven times. The audio recording captured one of the officers grunting as the blows were delivered. [MORE]

In an interview, Burwell’s attorney, Robin Curtiss, of Orford, said the ruling could be a temporary setback. The judge allowed Burwell to re-file the race-based claims if his lawyers find more evidence to support it.

“We think, and have thought all along, that it’s pretty apparent that what happened had something to do with him being African-American,” Curtiss said. “If we can establish during discovery that race had anything to do with this, then we can bring it right back into the case.”

Burwell, a fitness trainer who owns a gym in Lebanon, declined to comment yesterday.

James Carroll, the attorney representing police officers Fredrick Peyton, Kristinnah Adams and Scott Moody, did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brad Vail declined to comment yesterday.

Burwell is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages for several claims of wrongdoing allegedly committed by officers in May 2010, when a housekeeper who did not recognize Burwell found him naked and unresponsive and called 911 to report a possible burglary.

During the initial 911 call, housekeeper told the dispatcher, and dispatch then told the officers, that the housekeeper “had seen an African-American male in the home,” Reiss said.

The officers entered Burwell’s home with their guns drawn, and found Burwell, naked and unresponsive, sitting on the toilet. They did not know at the time that Burwell was essentially in a diabetic-coma — he had a medical condition that sometimes causes his blood sugar levels to plummet — and was only semi-conscious.

“Show your f—ing hands up or I’ll shoot you motherf—–,” Peyton told Burwell upon first entering the bathroom, according to a police audio recording of the encounter. “Put your hands up now,” the officer shouted. “Show me your f—ing hands.”

When Burwell failed to respond, officers showered him with pepper spray and beat him with a baton several times. He was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and suffered a cut on his wrist from handcuffs that required stitches to close.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing 2010. In July 2012, Burwell filed the lawsuit.

In October, the police asked Reiss to dismiss the racial bias claims.