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An unarmed white teen was shot dead by US police. Why is there no outrage?

Zachary Hammond was shot dead over two weeks ago.

PastedImage-26197 Source: Youtube/WYFF News 4

ZACHARY HAMMOND, A white 19-year-old from South Carolina was shot dead by police while in his car on a first date, according to the Washington Post.

His car was parked in a car park in Seneca when Hammond was shot. Undercover police had staged a drug bust and later charged the woman he was with, Toni Morton (23), with marijuana possession.

She was carrying just 10g of the drug and, according to the the Hammond family’s solicitor Eric Bland, was eating an ice-cream when Hammond was shot.

The official report into the shooting did not mention that Hammond was killed by two gunshots and Seneca police have refused to name the officer involved.

A private autopsy from the family concluded that Hammond was shot twice in the back.

The coroner, however, said he did not know how the teenager’s body was positioned when he was shot.

The incident happened on 26 July and Bland claimed in an interview with the Washington Post that there is no public outcry because Hammond is white.

“It’s sad, but I think the reason is, unfortunately, the media and our government officials have treated the death of an unarmed white teenager differently than they would have if this were a death of an unarmed black teen,” Bland said.

“The hypocrisy that has been shown toward this is really disconcerting.”

Bland is referring to the response to the litany of cases of unarmed black people being shot dead by US police. These incidents have come into worldwide focus over the last year, particularly the killing of Michael Brown that sparked the Ferguson protests.

But others have argued that the different response to Hammond’s killing is about more than just race.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Meredith Clark, an assistant professor at the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, said that attributing the lack of reaction to Hammond’s death solely to his skin colour was an oversimplification.

Unlike other high-profile cases, police haven’t released a video of Hammond’s shooting.

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In another police shooting South Carolina, involving a man named Walter Scott, a police officer was caught on camera shooting at Scott in the back as he was running away.

And in the chokehold case involving a New York man named Eric Garner, there was also video footage that captured national headlines.

Clark also pointed out that there haven’t been other high-profile reports of police misconduct in Seneca. However, she said that she believed word of Hammond’s shooting would spread slowly.

“The thing that I’m hearing from people is not just a narrative of racial justice. It is accountability for police forces. It is transparency. It is understanding how communities are being policed and what the average citizen has a right to do, or not to do, in those interactions,” Clark said told the LA Times.

“In that case, Hammond fits right in,” she added. “It’ll just be a matter of time, but we haven’t heard of prior complaints about the police force where he was.”

- With reporting from Business Insider 

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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