Outrage follows declaration that police killing was “justified”

CHICAGO – Flint Farmer was laying face down on the parkway grass after being shot in the thigh and abdomen by Chicago police officer Gildardo Sierra. The officer then calmly circled around Farmer and fired three more shots into his back, killing him.

Altogether Sierra fired 16 shots at the 29 year-old Farmer, who was unarmed. Farmer, an African American, was holding only a cell phone, which Sierra maintained he mistook as a weapon.

This horrific scene late in the evening of June 7, 2011 in the Englewood neighborhood was captured on a police squad car video. Last week, nevertheless, Cook County states attorney Anita Alvarez said she could find no reason to indict Sierra for murder and declared the shooting “justified.”

Alvarez issued her decision despite the fact that the Chicago City Council awarded Farmer’s family $4.1 million in an out-of-court settlement last February. At that same meeting, aldermen voted to award $33 million in other police abuse cases.

“I don’t understand why this can’t be proven in court,” said Emmett Farmer, Flint Farmer’s father, speaking at a Nov. 8 protest in front of Alvarez’s office. “The video shows (Sierra) walking over to my son and shooting him in the back while he’s lying on his stomach defenseless. Isn’t that proof enough?”

After taking a mandatory alcohol breath test, Sierra also admitted he had consumed “multiple beers” prior to killing Farmer. Sierra, at first, had denied he had been drinking.

This was the third time Sierra had shot a civilian and the second resulting in a death within a span of six months. Even Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy admitted Sierra was a “big problem.”

Several dozen demonstrators joined Emmitt Farmer at the protest and demanded that Alvarez prosecute Sierra, step down or be impeached. Of the 70 police murders of civilians since 2009, Alvarez has ruled that every single killing was justified.

Farmer also called for a federal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into the killing and that they charge Sierra with violations of his son’s civil and human rights.

“We’ve been hearing this cell phone is a gun story for a long time. We’re really getting tired of it,” said Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). “These people need to be prosecuted and treated like the criminals they really are. It’s a crime to murder someone and this is a crime of the highest order. We want some justice here.

“Anita Alvarez has proven herself to be delusional if she cannot see the record of Flint Farmer’s murder,” said Chapman.

The CAARPR is demanding the creation of a democratically elected Civilian Police Accountability Council, an independent entity that would be empowered to “make policy, hire, and fire police, and petition for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute police accused of crimes such as battery, unlawful arrest, racial profiling, torture, murder, and the use of force to suppress the democratic rights of the people to organize and protest.”

Photo: John Bachtell/PW


John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.