Michael Brown was 18 years old, black and unarmed when a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot him to death after a scuffle in the street. The incident has provoked ongoing mass protests, vandalism, and national calls for an independent investigation and higher standards of police accountability.
The police, citing death threats, have refused to release the name of the police officer who shot Brown. The hacker collective Anonymous has promised to discover and make public the officer's identity anyway. I suspect they will succeed (if they haven't already).
General questions for those who have followed this story:
Do you think the shooting was reasonable under the circumstances?
How do you feel about the police?
Do you trust the police? Why or why not?
Who do the police answer to? Who ought the police answer to?
Are police held too accountable, properly accountable or not accountable enough for their actions?
I would like to add something. I work in mental health. From time to time we have to PEC (Physician's Emergency Certificate) a patient, that is commit them involuntarily to an inpatient mental hospital based upon the doctor's assessment that they are a danger to themselves or others. It involves a call to 911 for an ambulance; the police come too as a matter of course, in case the person is dangerous. The patient doesn't always take it so well. They are often agitated, animated, and talking loudly and pacing. On multiple occasions, the jack-hole cowboy cop that responded to the call assumed an aggressive posture and attitude toward the patient; standing too close, squared off, chest puffed out. The cop appeared to be itching to cuff 'em and stuff 'em. I have had to tell them that that is not necessary and they are making matters worse, to let me talk to them calmly and they will cooperate.
It seems cops have little to no training when dealing with mental patients. I don't know if that has anything to do with this. I'm just saying.
Is this an example of a justified shooting?
It's an almost perfect textbook example of a justified shooting. It can be justified in terms of the officers' training and their police department's policy regarding these situations.
So, unless you mean "justified" in some more abstract sense, this was a police action that ended well. In fact, they probably should have shot him sooner, according to their training and department policy. The fact they waited until he was a mere 8 feet away means to me they were hoping not to have to shoot him.
Chief Sam Dotson with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department says ...
...his officers "have the right to go home at night" and that every officer has the right to defend themselves and the community. (source)
I guess when I consider whether it was justified I'm looking at it less like whether they followed department policy (I'm sure they probably did) and more like whether I agree with that policy in all situations.
That the guy appeared to be advancing toward the officers in an aggressive way makes me think it was justified. That it all went down so quickly with almost no time to assess, and they had guns drawn when they got out of the car, makes me question.
Imagining myself as a police officer called to an "angry guy with knife" situation, I pull my gun to convince him I mean business.
Belle Rose describes the man as "acting stupid." It goes beyond that into "being stupid" territory. As has been observed, the entire confrontation up to the shots lasted all of 15 seconds, not really a lot of time to consider alternatives, and the man with the knife forced the situation by getting so close.
It's easy for "Monday morning quarterbacks" to offer alternatives, but they were not looking possible death in the eye.
It was a rather obvious suicide-by-cop situation. He got what he wanted.
"FREEZE!!! Drop the lego and lay facedown in the sandbox or I'll blow your fucking head off, scumbag!"
LOL, those 5 year-olds and their damn sticky gummy bears.
It is so sad that our nation started with such a great idea of freedom and personal liberty and has evolved into a draconian militarized police state owned and controlled by the richest 1%...can we fix it???
Looks like a poor bet.
If only knives and guns could magically be changed into toys by the police.
Maybe we should consider arming police with tranquilizer darts full of some very fast-acting tranquilizer, assuming there is such a drug.
What about those cool guns that shoot a net that expands and wraps around the perp immobilizing him (or her)? Then tranq 'em.
I'd like to know the failure rate on the net option (and the traquilizer gun as well) and compare that with the failure rate of pistols.