COMMENTARY: Open Season Continues – Police Light Up Black Man for Reaching for a Smoke

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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.

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