All the controversy surrounding the case of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, 18, being gunned down by white officer Darren Wilson has revived the two-year-old case of unarmed white teen Gilbert Collar, 18—Freshman at the University of South Alabama, who was fatally shot by black officer Travis Austin on October 6, 2012.

Just like Brown’s case, Collar’s family argued that the system failed him by refusing to indict Austin after the shooting. Additionally, same as Wilson, after public outcry Austin’s case was presented to the Mobile County grand jury who ultimately decided in favor of him. Apparently, they concluded that “the officer acted in self-defense.” The public disagreed with the verdict and allegations of injustice by both the Mobile police department and grand jury emerged.

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The two cases have recently been compared, suggesting that Brown’s case only gained attraction because he’s black and Wilson is white. Furthermore, it is alleged that Collar’s case went unnoticed only until recently to prove that there’s a bias in the media’s attention to injustices towards whites by blacks.

After reviewing the two cases, it appears that the comparison is like equating apples to oranges. There are several differences between them. That’s not to say that one should have obtained media attention and peaceful protesting on behalf of either “victims.” However, it seems to be a weak argument suggesting that both Brown and Collar’s cases are the same, yet only one became high profile.

Here are the facts:

Both teens were under the influence of marijuana, but Collar’s toxicology report showed that he also had “two hits of the synthetic drug 25-I, a hallucinogen, which caused him ‘either to become extremely hot or to believe that he was very hot,’ according to the original complaint filed in federal court in Mobile County.”  

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As a result of ingesting the drug, Collar removed all of his clothing, and “began running into and out of traffic on the campus of the University of South Alabama.”

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich reported that Collar “ran in the direction of the campus police department, rambling incoherently and at one point attempting to climb into a car over the driver. Collar also tried to bite the driver while the vehicle’s passenger, a former university football player, punched him repeatedly in the face,” which the football player later revealed that the punches “didn’t faze him.”

Collar went on to the police station and proceeded to bang on the outside windows before walking “in the general direction of Officer Austin, who had his gun drawn.”

Now here’s where Brown and Collar’s cases are similar. “The officer shot Collar in the chest while he was still several feet away.” Unlike Brown’s, the shooting was captured on surveillance video.

It is being argued that Austin could have prevented having to use his gun had he used a Taser, pepper spray, or even his baton to subdue Collar.

Nevertheless, unlike Wilson, Austin returned to his position as a police officer after the jury failed to indict. The Collars have since filed a civil suit and the case is still pending.

Do you think that the two cases are the same and that both should have received the same media attention?



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