The Serious Questions Surrounding the Othal Wallace Case
Updated: Feb 21
On June 23, 2021, around 8:50 pm, Othal Wallace was sitting in a vehicle
when Officer Jason Raynor drove upon him, shining a spot on his vehicle.
Officer Raynor suddenly exited the patrol car, approached Othal, and asked, "How are you doing? Do you live here?" Wallace opened the driver's door, stood up and asked, "What's going on though?
Officer then reached his arm out, waving his hand downward saying, "Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!"
Wallace was asking, "Why you asking me do I stay here? What's going on though?" Officer Raynor asked again, "Do you live here?"
Wallace told Officer Raynor to stop, but the officer refused to allow him to walk away. There was a slight shuffle and Wallace suddenly ran away. There was a pop sound while Wallace is fleeting.
Officer Raynor was shot in the head. He went into a coma.
After a 56 hour manhunt, Wallace was allegedly found in a treehouse in Georgia and arrested for allegedly shooting Officer Raynor. Several months later, Officer Raynor died.
Wallace was later rebooked for first-degree murder, which carries the death penalty.
There are several questions and concerns regarding this entire case: (1) Why did Officer Raynor approach Wallace? (2) Was there a crime reported? (3) Why did Officer Raynor refuse to inform Wallace of his reasons for questioning him?
Based on the observation of the officer's cam video, Officer Raynor failed to acknowledge his reason for approaching Wallace; therefore, Wallace had the right to refuse to answer his questions and had the right to walk away.
However, once Officer Raynor refused to let Othal walk away, this became an attempted arrest. But this arrest was faulty because the officer failed to charge him and read his Miranda Rights.
Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement cannot perform “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This includes seizure of one’s person, such as an arrest. The Fourth Amendment prohibits arrest or detention without a warrant or probable cause.
Though the Fourth Amendment has been watered down and law enforcement has been given wide discretion, law enforcement has been found in violation of individuals' constitutional rights.
In addition, under the Fifth Amendment, individuals have the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney under the Sixth Amendment.
In the case of Othal Wallace, Officer Raynor failed to state to Othal his reason for his questioning or stop. More importantly, he failed to read Othal his Miranda Rights once he was making an arrest.
The question of racial profiling and targeting Black people is no secret.
Historically, racial targeting by police did not start in the late twentieth century.
It has been a fact of life for Blacks as long as there have been organized police forces in the United States—indeed, even before that, with the slave patrols of the American Antebellum South.
But what we think of as racial profiling, in a somewhat systematic modern form, really took shape in the last two decades of the twentieth century, beginning in Florida. (See, e.g., David A. Harris, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (2002).)
In the 1980s, a Florida state trooper named Bob Vogel, engaged in drug interdiction along the state’s highways, began to put together a list of factors that, he said, kept coming up in all of his biggest and most important drug busts.
Never mind that the lists were by nature incomplete and selective; they only included instances in which the trooper had stopped drivers and found drugs, not ones in which the effort had been unsuccessful.
The tactic made Vogel somewhat of a celebrity; he was interviewed on network television news shows, and he won the election as Sheriff of Volusia County, Florida.
The DEA took notice and created its own system of factors, systematizing them into profiles. This all resulted in an effort that brought the federal government into the effort in a big way: Operation Pipeline.
This program, which began in 1986, used millions of dollars in federal funding to train police from all over the country in the fine points of profiling; those officers would then return to their own departments, ready to train others and set up interdiction units. See, David Kocieniewski, New Jersey Argues That the U.S. Wrote the Book on Racial Profiling, N.Y. Times (Nov. 29, 2000).
The DEA denies that it made a racial or ethnic appearance a factor in any of its training, but the evidence says otherwise.
And the proof, as they say, was in the pudding: Once Pipeline tactics made it into the training and tactics of police forces around the country, police targeting of black drivers became systematic and common. And nowhere did this show up more clearly than in New Jersey and Maryland.
In the early 1990s, state troopers in both New Jersey and Maryland appeared to have taken
Operation Pipeline’s instruction and encouragement into use, putting large-scale drug interdiction into effect on some of their most traveled interstate highways.
In New Jersey, the most intense efforts came on the New Jersey Turnpike. In Maryland, the enforcement took place along I-95.
Even in the early 1990s, the Pipeline-based tactics of both police departments had drawn lawsuits, challenging both the legality of the practice on Fourth Amendment grounds and the racial discrimination intertwined with these vehicle stops. Interdiction and enforcement, it seems, had a distinctly racial cast, and a wildly disparate impact on Blacks.
In New Jersey, the Soto case put these matters into focus. (State v. Pedro Soto, 734 A.2d 350 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. 1996.) New Jersey’s attorney general, representing the state police, bitterly contested every allegation of wrongdoing in the case, especially charges of racially biased enforcement.
But the existence of the legal action created, for the first time, the opportunity to measure whether the state police were, in fact, targeting black drivers.
Using a study protocol designed by Dr. John Lamberth of Temple University, the expert retrained by the Soto team, hard numbers based on in-person observation on the New Jersey Turnpike—the location of the Pipeline-inspired interdiction efforts—proved that the race of the drivers played the dominant role in determining which drivers police pulled over and which vehicles and people were searched by obtaining so-called voluntary consent.
Racial profiling and bias stops have accounted for many illegal arrests, brutality, and deaths.
The targeting, harassment, and mistreatment of Black people have brought into serious questions of human rights violations and international laws issues.
Despite the U.S. not acknowledging the daily violations of human rights and international laws that should protect Black people, the fight for self-determination and self-governing is becoming a growing topic of discussion among individuals who are showing evidence and laws to support their argument.
Othal Wallace is one of many Black people throughout the years whose rights were violated due to the lack of proper protocol, responsibility, and respect of rights to people, which resulted in an unfortunate situation.
Often, the media, as always, rushed to judgment without letting the case go through the proper channels for resolution and fairness. Instead, it shows their biased views and one-sided reaction to this case.
Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Though Othal Wallace was charged for the alleged shooting and killing of Officer Raynor, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Taylor v. Kentucky, 478 U.S. 478 (1978).
However, the media and society have forgotten this longstanding rule, especially when it comes down to Black defendants.
This may appear to be an uphill battle, but when thinking about the great, Thurgood Marshall, who traveled the country as the lead attorney for the NAACP, fighting for justice for many Blacks who were unjustly charged, it didn't stop him.
He was very successful against an unjust system.
Also, great people, like Huey P. Newton and Angela Davis, who was charged for killing or part-taking in the killing of law enforcement officers, stood tall and beat this unjust system.
Othal Wallace has the same opportunity and possibility to beat the odds.
However, he can't do it alone. We have to support him and donate to his legal defense fund at othal.org.
In the effort to help liberate Othal, we should be reminded that this could have been you or someone you love or know. We need to start now in stopping the madness and unjust treatment of Black people.
We know what it is and what we must do. So do your part and keep up the fight. Justice, liberation, and empowerment are in our hands. We don't need to be reminded. We need to go take it.
Actual details of Othal Wallace's case was drawn from the actual cam video footage