Stephen Gayle: Black, Disabled, Dead in Custody

This story, amidst so much horror, has not gotten widespread coverage outside the disability rights world. 

Temple officers responded to a disturbance complaint around 7:30 p.m. Thursday near an apartment complex. They encountered Gayle, believing he was responsible for the disturbance, and said he was uncooperative and appeared intoxicated, according to a police release. During a struggle, the officers tried to handcuff Gayle and put him inside a police car, police said.

The Temple Daily Telegram reports that Gayle’s family and people who witnessed the incident are questioning the account police have given. Witnesses who spoke to the newspaper said the officers, who were white, used excessive force to arrest Gayle, who was black.

Some of the witnesses told the newspaper they saw an officer place a knee in the man’s back and punch him in the face while he was on the ground.

According to the newspaper, Gayle’s sister, Tiffany Nuckols, said he had an intellectual disability and sickle cell anemia. She also said he suffered from nerve pain in his legs that caused them to lock up and kick sometimes.

I feel the need to note that Gayle was not, in fact, responsible for the disturbance. He was just in a non-compliant body watching kids play football near by, so police decided to go for him. Then he responded in non-compliant ways, so they escalated. Then he died.

I feel the need to note that his connection to the “disturbance” is, in fact, immaterial. His death would be an outrage either way.

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