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Sun Jun 14, 2015, 02:08 PM

And so, they shot him...

And so, they shot him…

We are all familiar with the way some classic fairy tales end, “And they lived happily ever after.”…

In the real world, in the 21st century, in the United States of America—we are seeing many real stories about citizen interactions with their local police that have a different ending. It goes more like this,“And so, they shot him.”

The stories have certain attributes in common: the person shot is not white or is of immigrant origin; the person is either mentally ill or has ingested something which is causing them to be agitated or unable to fully comprehend whatever instructions are being screamed at them; when they are violently assaulted by the police using fists, feet, Tasers, batons etc. the police perceive them as resisting (even when that resistance is involuntary writhing or thrashing in pain); they are unarmed; at the end of it all they end up dead.

Oh, and one more thing—even when charges are preferred against the officers who admittedly gunned down an unarmed man or woman the officers are either not indicted or are subsequently acquitted (in spite of evidence that would assuredly but you or me in prison for a long, long time). They are then allowed to go forth and protect other victims.

Here are a few links to peruse if you want some concrete examples: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/star-student-killed-by-long-beach-police-was-going-to-change-the-world-sister/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Freddie_Gray;
The sad thing about accumulating these links is multifold: it took no time at all; and since I initially wrote this short piece there have been quite a few more suspect police shootings. I can’t keep up with it. I also found that I forgot to include one of the worst. In this one a police office was quoted as saying, “We don’t have time for this!” right before shooting a mentally ill teenager (in his own home) in the chest during an altercation that involved a screwdriver. Keith Vidal had already been tased but was still resisting. At least in this case the cop has been charged. Link is an update on the progress towards a trial (http://stateportpilot.com/topstory/article_6a739198-9680-11e4-b2d5-f39b55c54548.html).

These incidents are happening in every region of the country. This isn’t something restricted to some cultural backwater.
Why?

Here is the answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_v._Connor. This article is long and technical but, it is utterly meaningful and very, very important. This case is what allowed the incredibly loose and liberal use of force policies that all police forces train to.
The funny thing is that this case only involved your basic police brutality and did not involve any shooting. Yet from this poison branch has fallen some very poisonous fruit.

The get-of-jail-free card that you’ll find in every single one of these cases is the word “feel” or “felt”. If the officer feels that he or she is threatened then it is open season. It matters not that they were very, very wrong. What matters is that they felt threatened.

The notion that a suspect has to be armed to justify a police shooting went right out the proverbial window once the Graham v. Connor decision was rendered.

In and spite of there being no use of a weapon in this case Graham v. Connor established a standard by which all police use of force is measured and judged: if there is a reasonable feeling on the part of the police officer(s) that they are in danger they can use force up to and including deadly force (sic).

I put (sic) there, because that is my distillation of the decision.

This case was the case that opened up a Pandora’s Box of bad policing. Every cop in any U.S. police force serving today is trained to this standard. They are told by their trainers that their number one goal every day is to return home to their families safely and that they are free to use whatever level of force they feel is necessary. So, the standard is purely subjective. The objective requirement that existed in the past that there be a weapon such as a gun or knife involved hasn’t been in place since 1989.
So, we have one case after another where the officer testifies under oath that they felt that their lives were in danger and charges are either dismissed, not brought at all, or the officer in question is acquitted in court. And so, we now have cases like this http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/24/us/michael-brelo-cleveland-police-officer-acquitted-of-manslaughter-in-2012-deaths.html?_r=0; http://time.com/3833489/dallas-screwdriver-police-shooting-grand-jury/;http://www.cbsnews.com/news/video-dallas-police-shoot-kill-mentally-ill-man-with-screwdriver/;http://www.inquisitr.com/2134902/pastor-killed-by-police-during-rescue-gone-wrong-wife-demands-to-see-dashcam-footage/.

The genie is truly out of the bottle on this one. Until we fix this there will be one story after another. Many will be truly egregious, unwarranted uses of deadly force. Often the officer will pay with their job—but in many other cases there will be no repercussions. Occasionally, there will actually be criminal charges that stick.

Until this case is replaced by a new standard nothing will change. It will remain unsafe to call the police if you have a relative that is experiencing a mental illness episode. You cannot safely even argue with the police if they are beating the hell out of you for no discernible reason. We will all have to understand that the police are now an occupying force and you and your safety and security are not a priority.

What changed in 1989 is that no one on any police force has any duty to deescalate any situation. Rather they can go to full violent mode if they feel threatened.

Until there is a case that reestablishes some sort of requirement that there be an actual credible threat nothing will change. There will be the drip, drip, drip of one story after another where the police feeling threatened open fire. They are trained to do this. This standard has turned much of the nation’s police into jumpy, frightened Barney Fifes.


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Reply And so, they shot him... (Original post)
Moral Compass Jun 2015 OP
marym625 Jun 2015 #1
Live and Learn Jun 2015 #2
Cassidy1 Jun 2015 #3

Response to Moral Compass (Original post)

Sun Jun 14, 2015, 02:10 PM

1. K&R!

Great post! Thank you

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Response to Moral Compass (Original post)

Sun Jun 14, 2015, 02:33 PM

2. +1 I feel little to no need for the present day police force.

I would be loathe to call them for any reason.

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Response to Moral Compass (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2015, 09:41 PM

3. The police are part of the justus system.

 

Just us.

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