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One Ordinary Guy

Guy Brown 2021

I can’t begin to imagine living with the physical and emotional pain and scars of tragedy that totally and completely derailed my life. This is the personal account of one ordinary man in 1980 whose life was shattered in Hartford, Connecticut one cold March night 1980 .

While driving home from his favorite pastime, high school basketball games, this ordinary man, along with three friends in his car, was pulled over by two Hartford policemen and a state trooper. The following events are from the memory and words of Mr. Brown, as well as an article by Diane Howard from the New York Times published on September 21, 1980.

A husband, father of three children, a beloved uncle, brother, friend and employee. Mr. Brown had no criminal background, an ordinary man, living an ordinary life.

The events that took place on March 12th of 1980 could have easily come from a headline today. Scripture in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “ That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.”

Almost Home

Mr. Brown had been profiled and followed to his home, most likely you have never heard of him, Guy Brown was 33 years old at the time of his shooting. According to Mr. Brown, he and his three friends near his home were detained by 2 Hartford Police officers and a State Trooper Officer Korbus who were in search of two suspected Black males who committed a robbery in Manchester, Connecticut. The suspects according to police records were driving a blue Ford Maverick, Mr. Brown was driving a Blue Ford Torino and his passengers were 3 males and one female.

Fight vs Freeze

When stopped, Mr. Brown was commanded to step out of his vehicle, hands up, Mr. Brown quickly complied. He reported that he repeatedly asked Officer Thomas O’Connor the reason for the stop to no avail. Mr. Brown reported the officer continued to yell at him while using racial expletives, and telling him to get his “black ass out of the car.” Mr. Brown continued to comply yet had no idea as to why he was stopped. All of the usual suspects were present: an ordinary Black man, a White police officer, a robbery, unrestrained power and control, adrenaline and fear.

Our central nervous systems quickly react to heightened anxiety and fear moving us to flight, fight or fear. Once the Central Nervous System is fully activated, our hearing, thinking and behavior are affected. Voices appear louder, we can misinterpret facial expressions, verbal statements and even body language.

Hands Up, Shut Up, Shot Down

Hands on the top of his car, Mr. Brown recalled the gray mackinaw coat he was wearing that night. A rare and well deserved indulgence , he had saved for the coat which he loved.

He recalled, while still asking what was going on, at the intersection of confusion, adrenaline and fear, bullets from a double odd shotgun suddenly and violently tore through the coat, his torso and ultimately severely damaged his spinal cord

“ The force of the bullets picked me up off of the ground, losing control of my legs. I fell hard against the pavement. Feeling life slipping away I heard myself screaming through searing pain and shock because I could no longer feel my legs. I remember thinking what happened to my legs, am I dying, what about my family?

Getting Up

Mr. Brown miraculously survived the tragic and senseless shooting. He endured months and years of painful surgeries, therapies and emotional anguish. He lives daily with the on-going cost and the toll of this violent act in the form of loss of mobility, independence, financial loss and future children.

It is easy for most of us to opine about the victims of police shootings, thinking that this could never be our fate. We are ordinary people going about our ordinary lives, right? With such a wrong and injustice, what God would you scream or cry to? What would you tell yourself so that you could push through the grueling physical therapy or the loss of use of limbs despite the physical therapy?

Mr. Brown survived and in an upcoming podcast entitled, One Ordinary Guy listeners will hear first hand from Mr. Brown and his responses to the events of March 12,1980. I have waited patiently for Mr. Brown, my uncle who is in no way an ordinary guy to share his story. I am grateful for the opportunity to Say His Name in 2021. We can only pray 2022 will be different in how we see and experience each other.

Tammy Austin

Therapy Unchained

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