The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Riverside, California:
A city pays off its racist, murdering cops

Jan 20, 2003

The city council of Riverside, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, says it wants to close the books on the 1998 fatal shooting of Tyisha Miller, an 18-year-old black woman, by four white police officers.

The shooting of Tyisha Miller was especially senseless and horrendous. In the early morning hours of December 28, 1998, Miller and her friends were returning home when their car got a flat tire. They pulled into a gas station that was closed; and while the friends went to get help, Miller stayed in the car with all the doors locked and holding a handgun because it was a dangerous neighborhood.

When her friends returned, they saw her suffering an epileptic seizure, with her eyes rolling and foaming at the mouth. So, they called 911 for an ambulance. They also informed the operator that Miller had a gun, so there wouldn't be any problem.

Instead of an ambulance, four heavily armed cops were sent. The cops ignored what Miller's friends had to say. Instead, the cops began pounding on the car window. But Miller was still unconscious, and she did not respond. So, a cop broke the driver's side window. At that point, Miller began to come out of her seizure, disoriented and startled. That was when the cops started shooting: 24 shots, of which 12 hit Miller. Afterwards, the cops tried to claim that Miller had fired her gun at them. But investigators had to admit that Miller's gun had not been fired.

It may have been the kind of racist cop killing that Riverside and the L.A. region are all too familiar with. But this killing was just one too many for the black population. Ten days after the murder, over 800 mourners turned Miller's funeral into an angry protest. In the weeks and months that followed, the protests continued.

The police department was forced to fire the four cops. And the city of Riverside quickly moved to settle Tyisha Miller's family's wrongful death suit, paying them three million dollars.

So what is it that the city of Riverside now wants to do to "close the books" on this case?

Is it finally proposing to try the four cops? No – just the opposite. It's offering each of them a large open-ended settlement: $2,000 per month tax free – for the rest of their lives!

Riverside has just shown what everyone knows – that if there are murderous cops loose on the streets of our cities, it's because they are backed up by civilian authorities.