“You Should Have Shot the Son of a Bitch” — Listen to Police Joke About Murdering Black Activist
Ojore Lutalo, a Black Liberation activist who had formerly spent nearly three decades in prison, was traveling on an Amtrak train back to his home in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
The woman sitting in front of Lutalo, who was eavesdropping on his conversation, reported hearing alarming remarks to train staff.
When the train pulled into La Junta, Colorado, Lutalo was arrested at gunpoint. He spent three days in jail.
Meanwhile, town officials had realized they could not substantiate Lutalo’s purported “terrorist threats,” prompting the embarrassing question of whether charges would even be filed.
Assistant District Attorney Barta phoned arresting Officer Mobley to confer about how to salvage the investigation and secure an indictment. (Lutalo was never charged.)
If the circumstances of Lutalo’s arrest were different—if he didn’t have a high profile or access to legal support—we’d probably never know about this incident.
The recordings were disclosed during discovery after Lutalo filed suit against the city for violating his constitutional rights by making false claims to justify his arrest. The suit was ultimately settled out of court.
Arresting Officer Mobley: I should have just let [the arrestee] get off the train and go.
Assistant District Attorney Barta: Ah, you should have said that he pulled a knife on you and shot the son of a bitch.
Barta: (Laughter) He pulled something out of his pocket and it looked like a gun… then… it was a goddamn comb, I’m sorry! (Laughter)
Mobley: My bad, I’m sorry! (Laughter)
Barta: My bad! (Laughter)
Barta: (Laughter) Oh well, anyway… (Pause) Or, you could have arrested him, alleged that the train tried to pull out, and here’s a thought, throw him under the track, the wheels, and then say he tried to escape. But too late for that….
Mobley: Yeah …
Mobley: Oh well! Anyway….
(Listen to the tape below)
Other articles by Viva Stahl: Child Locked up For Life: 10 Shockers About America’s Prison System