In Sacramento, a black man was shot 8 times by police while unarmed in his grandmother’s back yard. He died. With a family. Father of 2.
And, as it is inevitably the case in these things, the officers claimed he had a gun. He did not. He had a cellphone.
Two officers shot 20 rounds (10 apiece) killing this young man. 20 rounds. 20 fricking rounds.
His name is Stephon Clark and he will soon be buried in Sacramento. Did he really have to die?
Another black man in Baton Rouge, Alton Sterling, was shot multiple times while lying on the ground with an officer on top of him. They may have found a gun in his pocket – but it was not in his hand. Why shoot him? And why multiple times?
Conservatives denigrate the Black Lives Matter protests as overreactions. They are just making trouble. But these incidents are disturbing on so many levels. It is hard to understand how a trained police officer can do these things.
It is blatantly obvious that African Americans are treated differently than whites in police encounters. When an officer confronts a black man, he/she is immediately on a hair trigger. The actions are nervous. The voice tense.
Clearly, something is wrong here and the BLM protests are justified. We need to figure this out. Too many are dying. Too many of these encounters end in fatalities.
Truly, lethal force actions need to be reevaluated. Do the police need multiple shots? Do they need to aim for vital organs?
Cops obviously need to assess situations quickly, but do they need to draw their weapons immediately? I wonder if there has ever been a study about how quickly weapons are drawn when confronting a black suspect vs. a white suspect?
In Britain, cops, for the most part, do not carry weapons. Which is great – but could never work here because we just have too many guns in the general public. And people, knowing this, buy more guns for their own protection. And cops, also knowing this, have to be on high alert at all times. Guns beget guns. And on it goes.
African Americans should not have to fear for their safety when they have a police encounter. The slogan is To Protect and To Serve. The African American community is not being protected or served. They live in fear.
There must be a reckoning here. This is happening much too often and the police must be held accountable. Yes, cops will fear for their lives. But citizens should also not be shot just for being in the wrong place. Police best practices need a serious evaluation and change.
Accountability means that police officers must be accountable for their mistakes or their rush to judgment. The standard defense in officer involved shootings is fearing for their lives – which has also become too broad a standard.
When a weapon is fired – we need a better explanation as to why