by Susie Day
which is now available from Abdingdon Square Publishing
Click here for archive of previous "Daylight Time" columns
Darien, CT—Only days before he was to enter Yale Law School, Trey Von Der Brown, 22, was mowed down behind the wheel of his powder-blue 2016 Mini Cooper convertible in a hail of police bullets. In the passenger seat, Wentworth MacFarquhar, 19, a second-year student at Yale Business School, was critically wounded.
Rich-white-people rights activists have expressed shock and outrage at the shooting. Mr. Von Der Brown's mother, Cecily Bullion Von Der Brown, smartly clad in an Armani pantsuit and size 8½ Manolo Blahnik pumps, screamed into news cameras the words so often heard from her benighted community: "Why, oh why is it always rich white people who suffer at the hands of bigoted, trigger-happy cops?"
Details of the shooting were not immediately clear, largely because officers on the scene had "tragically un-remembered" to switch on their body cams. The Von Der Brown family and wealthy Caucasian leaders in the area have demanded an investigation into what some are calling an overreaction by the officers.
Central to the investigation is a graphic video of the event, live-streamed onto Facebook by Wentworth MacFarquhar, only moments before police bullets tore through his right shoulder. Mr. MacFarquhar was taken to Cashflow Medical Center, listed in critical condition, and handcuffed to his bed. No guns were found in the car.
According to police accounts, around eleven o'clock in the morning, officers began receiving complaints from residents in the area that some wealthy-looking Caucasian males were cruising the neighborhood in a "thug-like" fashion, sporting Yale jerseys and similar gang apparel. Police easily spotted the vehicle and pulled it over in front of a convenience store, giving the reason that its taillights were suspiciously "not busted."
The Facebook video shows Officer Derrick Henderson asking Trey Von Der Brown for his license and registration. Then, as Mr. Von Der Brown reaches into his back pocket, the officer sprays a random barrage of bullets at the young man and his friend.
"I was following the official police regulation handbook, Section B, paragraph 12," Officer Henderson explained to reporters. "I didn't like the guy's looks—so I shot him. What's the fucking problem?"
Mr. Von Der Brown, who was to have checked in at his New Haven dorm next Tuesday, was shot in the neck, shoulder, and right arm. He was taken to Our Lady of Aetna Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
With emotions swirling around this case, and a long history of no criminal indictments for police who kill rich white people, legal experts say it will be difficult to determine if the shootings were justified.
"Let's be honest," said Police Commissioner Betty O. Johnson. "As a well-to-do white male, Trey Von Der Brown was part of a minority community. Those people don't understand that cops confront danger every day and have to react in seconds."
Commissioner Johnson went on to explain that if police officers coincidentally shoot the same minority people from the same minority community again and again, then "that's a simple mistake—not a systemic pattern of brutality and injustice."
It is widely agreed that investigating this case will prove controversial, since, for some reason (possibly genetic), people from wealthy white minority groups tend to become easily outraged.
"And when rich white people get mad, honey, it's scary," said Commissioner Johnson. "That's why the department has optimized that equal-opportunity thing. With our multi-ethnic, fully militarized teams, we've got it fixed so nobody can say we're racist—even if we only shoot white people."
On-the-street interviews, however, indicate that prejudice against the "well-heeled honky" or the "affluent ofay" may be hard to eradicate.
Byron Metcalf, on line at a soup kitchen, said: "A rich white dude bought my apartment building and now I have to live with my sister and her kids in Section 8 housing. I know all rich white folks aren't like that, but every time I see one of them, I can't help it, I sense danger."
Barbara Grigsby, professor emeritus of Wealthy Caucasian Studies at Redhook Community College, has devoted her life to studying this subject. "Rich white people own the multinationals, they break unions, they're behind environmental degradation, they got us into Iraq and an endless war," said Professor Grigsby. "They caused and profited from the global economic meltdown. You know, by law, I had to let them sit in my classroom, but they always tried to run things."
Rich-white-people rights activists say this anti-rich-white-people prejudice has wormed its way into the police force.
One of the plainclothes officers working undercover in the neighborhood on the morning of the shooting spoke on condition of anonymity. He said he thought there might be trouble when he saw the expensive car filled with "clean-cut" college types.
"You never know with these people," said the officer. "They go around gentrifying everything. That cop who shot those guys? He was just doing his job. Protecting the community. Hey, that's why I joined the police force -- I wanted to help."
"People criticize us for busting these thugs," the officer continued. "But they don't know what it's like. This is a dangerous neighborhood. Rich white people are capable of anything."