March 07, 2014

White man shoots unarmed Navajo

Video: Fatal Shooting Inside Walmart Store in Chandler

By Matthew HendleyThe Chandler Police Department has released the surveillance video from a fatal shooting that took place inside a Walmart two weeks ago.

Kriston Belinte-Chee, 36, was shot and killed by 25-year-old Cyle Quadlin on February 16 after the two got into an argument at the service counter that escalated into a physical fight.

Police say Quadlin told investigators he was on the losing end of the fight and "was in fear for his life" when he pulled out his gun and shot Belinte-Chee.

The surveillance appears to show Belinte-Chee instigating the confrontation at the service counter and also shows Belinte-Chee attacking Quadlin after following him to an exit.

The shooting can't be seen clearly from the surveillance footage, as it takes place at the edge of the frame from a few different angles. At one angle, you can see that Belinte-Chee started to run away, but it's hard to tell whether he'd already been shot at that point.

Belinte-Chee was hospitalized but was pronounced dead later that day. Quadlin wasn't arrested in the case, as Chandler police said the case was submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to review for possible charges.
I posted an earlier version of this story on Facebook with a heading like, "Another white man shoots an Indian." Facebook friend Cx took me to task for implying the shooting was racially motivated. Because the Navajo victim attacked the white killer, one could call the shooting self-defense.

Cx sent me this follow-up article, which included excerpts from the Walmart videos. She may have thought it proved her point, but I'd say it proves mine.

Analysis of the shooting

Posting this article on Facebook led to an analysis and discussion with FB friend Brad:


Let's go to the tape, as they say:

1) We can't tell what started the argument. But Quadlin stepped directly to the counter rather than getting in one of two visible lines. That could've been it.

Not that that justifies any subsequent violence, of course.

2) Belinte-Chee shoved Quadlin and then twisted him to the ground. I didn't see any punch thrown in the initial tussle. And Quadlin had something in his right hand as he was falling...possibly his gun.

So someone wrestles you to the ground...and that's your justification for fearing for your life? That's your justification for immediately pulling a gun? Hell, *no*.

3) A couple of views suggest the shooting happened almost immediately. Quadlin was back on his feet, holding his gun and walking away, within 3-4 seconds. After he suffered nothing worse, possibly, than being knocked down.

Where's the prolonged battle necessary to instill a fear of death? In fact, where's the slightest threat to life or limb, other than perhaps a scraped knee from hitting the linoleum? Answer: nowhere. It didn't happen.

So any time two youngsters wrestle at school or in a park, and one of them falls down, the "victim" is justified in shooting and killing the "aggressor"? I don't think so.

In short, the carrying of a gun led to the unjustified shooting of an Indian. Exactly as I said when this subject first came up.It's pretty hard to tell but it almost looks to me like he's already got the gun in his hand when Chee attacks him. It would make sense too since I don't see anywhere he could have easily gotten it out during the melee. That would change things significantly wouldn't you say?You mean before Belinte-Chee pushed him? I didn't see that. Yes, that would change things significantly.

I'd say that if he pulled a gun anytime during the initial push and fall, he has no self-defense justification.Of course we'll probably never know what happened in the final moments before the physical altercation started but it got me wondering if he was even threatening him with the gun before he even pulled it out. If Quadlin pulled out a gun or threatened to, it would make the attack make a lot more sense.

They were walking, stopped and were exchanging words, then suddenly Chee just jumped him. I know some people do have tempers that short, but what would cause him to suddenly fly into a physical rage like that. If someone pulls a gun on you, attacking them to try to get the gun and avoid getting shot makes a lot more sense.
Yes, or even if Quadlin just showed the gun in his waistband or wherever. Belinte-Chee could've taken that as a threat and responded with the push.

As the Navajo Nation said in a statement, the authories should've investigated this incident. Unless the circumstances are a lot clearer than in this case, that should be mandatory.

In other words, no one should get away with a "self-defense" shooting automatically. It should lead to weeks or months of investigation. That's the mildest "penalty" you should suffer after killing someone over your imaginary fears.

Wrestling = death threat?

A woman named Sophia chimed in with a lot of talk about how wrestling and fighting can lead to death. Brad and I responded to one comment:"...and the level of perceived threat is subjective...if you have not experienced a lot of trauma, you may not perceive much of anything to be a threat..."

That's an excellent point. That's why we shouldn't leave such subjective decisions up to individual people with guns. And why determining the correctness of such a decision should be made AFTER an investigation and most importantly WHILE the shooter is in police custody.

And it's possible investigators have gotten a better look than we could, but it appeared to ME in the video that the shooter fired AFTER he was already free, not while the victim was holding him on the ground.
Right. You may feel your life is in danger while someone is sitting on you, hitting you, or choking you. But you don't get to make that determination, and and shoot someone, when he's merely tackled you. Or when he's tackled you and you've managed to get free. Your life is not in imminent danger in either of those cases.

Oh, and a note from the article: "Chandler police said the case was submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to review for possible charges." That's not the kind of investigation I'm talking about. I'm talking about the police investigating it using the full resources of law enforcement.

As a rule, district attorneys' offices don't do criminal investigations. They receive more or less completed investigations and decide if the evidence warrants charges. That's not an investigation, it's a review, as the article correctly labels it.

The Navajo Nation agrees:

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission Responds to the Shooting of Kriston Charles Belinte CheeThe Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission office issued a news released after learning of Kriston Chee’s death and Quadlin’s claim of self defense.

Leonard Gorman, NNHRC Executive Director states:

“Claim of self defense are very subjective. Based on the recent Florida cases (Zimmerman and Dunn), it is clear that no duty to retreat is confusing and require substantial investigation.”

“It’s disappointing to learn that Mr. Chee’s family is left with the notion that his death is okay, no crime committed,” Gorman further stated.

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission is at dismayed by the quick ruling and acceptance of self defense. When a person’s life is taken the remaining family members deserve a full investigation.
Kill or be killed

As far as I'm concerned, this case nicely ties into the George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn cases, where a white man also shot a brown man for no good reason. In an interview, the author of Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It makes some excellent points:

Zimmerman, Dunn and what went horribly wrong: Author Lisa Bloom talks to Salon

On how the police and prosecutors accept the white man's "Stand Your Ground" laws, and don't push back hard against them:I want to ask what you think explains how the prosecutors went so wrong, without falling into the same sort of biased, suspicious thought processes you criticize.

Many people ask me, do I think the prosecutors intentionally threw the [Trayvon Martin] case? And I don’t think that. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I think the prosecutors wanted to win the case, but they didn’t believe that they had a winnable case. And remember, they didn’t want this case. This case is very different from every other case they had because 25 days went by and they didn’t charge Zimmerman with any crime. Why? Because they didn’t believe that there was a crime. They believed the self-defense story.
How we use invented, imaginary fears to justify the racist status quo:One more thing: One reason that we demonize people is to justify stealing everything they’ve got—their land, their labor, their lives—without feeling that there’s anything wrong with it.

I think that’s a really perceptive comment and you’re absolutely right that dehumanizing is the key to discriminating against populations and making that OK, right? That’s why I wanted to really dig deeply down into that stereotype, which was the issue in the trial in the Trayvon Martin case and it was at issue in the Michael Dunn case. And just to talk about that for a brief moment: Michael Dunn shoots into a car of unarmed black kids, he says that he saw the gun, there was no gun, the kids never owned a gun, according to their families never touched a gun; witnesses rushed in and there was no gun that anybody saw except for Michael Dunn who saw the magical invisible gun.
How the same thinking applies to all our "enemies": terrorists, Commies, unions, immigrants, et al. Going all the way back to "the Indians are on the warpath!"One last thing that was fascinating to me: You were talking about the relationship between 9/11 and “stand your ground.”

That goes back to our suspicions and fears. Why do “stand your ground” laws start taking the nation by storm in 2005 and thereafter? Right? People have asked me was there some precipitating event? And I really know there wasn’t. There wasn’t a whole group of people who said, “Wow! I was in a violent altercation on the street, I extricated myself and retreated, according to the law, and I don’t like that, and now I’m going to go to my legislature and make sure the next time that I’ll be empowered to take a gun and shoot.” No one was saying that.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see America's Dual Justice System and American "Justice" Protects White People.

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