commentary on 2 fatal police shootings in northern CA

On 18 March 2018, the police in Sacramento, in the dark of night, shot and killed an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, that was holding a cell phone while he was in his grandmother’s backyard.  (This is similar to the shooting in Utah a few years back when an unarmed, non-black young man was shot to death while reaching for a cell phone as he was leaving a convenience store.)  Comments from relatives after viewing the police body cam video of the shooting indicate that they believe that the police were very quick to start shooting and did not give the man, suspected of burglary, enough time to comply with police commands.

Here is the problem for many of us with this lethal shooting by law enforcement officers: why was this young man shot no less than 7 times?  (Some early online reports claimed he was shot 20 times.)  If, in the dark, his cell phone was mistaken for a hand gun and the suspect failed to drop the object after commands from police to do so, why was it allowable for the suspect (the suspect claim may be based on a case of mistaken identity, it really is not clear) to be shot more than once or twice in non-vital areas of the body (such as the upper legs) to neutralize any potential or perceived threat to police officers on scene?

In early December, 2015, several San Francisco police officers shot and killed an armed (with a knife) and possibly mentally deranged felony stabbing suspect (who was black), Mario Woods, in a scene that resembled a firing squad execution (from iPhone video taken by nearby pedestrians).  One of the many neighborhood residents that attended meetings after the fatal shooting with city and police department officials asked the pertinent question:  “Why not shoot him in the leg if you have to shoot?”  This suspect was shot many (20+) times by multiple officers at very close range (perhaps from 10 to 12 feet or 3.5 meters away) in afternoon daylight when he was standing in front of the front façade of a building (with wall and closed garage door).  It strikes me that in this situation the police could have used less than lethal force and may have been able to subdue the suspect (who was not responding to repeated calls from officers to drop his knife) by the use of long night sticks by two of the officers on scene where one would strike the suspect in his hands or wrists while the other would sweep a blow at his legs to bring him down for hand cuffing.  In that kind of maneuver, the suspect might sustain broken bones but would not be killed.  Alternatively, at such close range, one or 2 shots to the man’s legs would have brought him down for hand cuffing without killing him in a hail of bullets from multiple guns.

 

 

Law enforcement does not have a license to use excessive and lethal force when such force is not necessary.

Procedures and training programs for police officers need to be changed, need to be revised.  Where is common sense in all this?  It appears that “trigger happy” police may be behaving and reacting similarly to conditioned, trained attack dogs in certain stressful and rapidly developing situations.  Again, there is a need for correction and modification in the protocols that police operate under and in their training.

The views expressed above are in no way to be interpreted to mean that we condone the thuggish tactics of groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, who often take to the streets in the aftermath of such widely publicized police shootings (many of which – but not all – when the circumstances are reviewed are found to be justified).  These violent groups are not part of a constructive solution but only serve to stoke the fires of anger and resentment and distrust.

other not so related thoughts

As to the strident calls for “gun control” orchestrated since the 14 February 2018 school shooting in Florida, we support responsible (not over arching) laws in this area.  However, it appears that existing screening mechanisms are failing and agencies like the FBI are not acting on multiple tips as to potential mass shooters acting on their threats.  Make no mistake, trying to do away with the 2nd Amendment is not the answer.  (A fool former Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens, is calling for the 2nd Amendment to be dropped or repealed.  That would take a new Constitutional Amendment to achieve and that will not succeed.)

Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to live in a society where only the police (who will follow or obey “lawful orders”) and violent criminal gangs and violent, criminal individuals possess guns?  The illegal “black” market in guns, just as the illegal black market in drugs, is not going away anytime soon.

If, Heaven forbid, your home is invaded by violent criminals, who enjoy having and abusing power over their victims, what can you do?  What will you do?

About the only thing you can do to protect the lives and safety of your loved ones and yourself is to own and become proficient in the use of one or more guns.  Many times each day law abiding citizens deter violent crimes by bringing forth their guns.  Most violent felons are similar to school yard bullies.  When people stand up to them with sufficient force, they back off or even flee the scene.  Thus, you can see now how these asinine signs advertising that a school or a shopping mall or an entertainment venue is a “gun free zone” invite and embolden predators who lack a functioning conscience and self-control.

Do not let anyone con you or deceive you into believing that you do not have a God-given, a natural right to self-defense.

copyright 2018 – larrysmusings.com

3 comments

  1. No one deserves to be murdered in cold blood. In your above examples, it could be a training issue, but I also think it is a reflection of our culture. Working with people all day long can be stressful, working with people all day with a mind set that these people could potentially kill you is another dimension. Humans like to put things in nice little compartments and have a hard time coping with gray areas. In war, humans develop an “us vs. them” mentality. I believe some police forces, especially those in large metropolitan areas, have developed an “us vs. them” mentality. Smaller towns with local sheriffs and deputies where people grow up together, go to school or church together, and go to each others weddings and funerals, do not seem to have these types of shootings on a large scale. I have no idea what the solution is, but I have a feeling it will not get better any time soon.

    1. Thanks WR for your comment. We had to edit the above post now as we have come to know that the earlier reports we saw were incorrect. The man recently slain in Sacramento had been shot only 7 times, not 20 times.

      Urban police officers are under more stress than the small town or rural sheriff’s deputies are. And, you are quite right that it is a challenging and multifaceted problem with no easy solution.

      It does appear to be a rather “vicious cycle” that is self perpetuating. The ethnic and racial minorities (who may be majorities in their cities even if minorities in the nation as a whole) distrust the police, and many will resist arrest or try to flee the scene when police attempt to arrest them. Whether they are fleeing and resisting because they wish to escape consequences for actual crimes, or are fleeing out of fear of being shot or beaten by police makes little difference to law enforcement officers attempting to take them into custody. Things can and do go bad when suspects resist arrest or attempt to flee from police who have stopped them. Then, there are suspects who are shot by police, some fatally. The ethnic minorities in the inner cities assume police guilt and this serves to reinforce their mistrust and even animosity towards the police. It is a case of “us vs them” in many large American cities, sorry to say.

      A final point is that we ought not rush to judgment in every single case of a police shooting of an unarmed black person. After investigation, many of these incidents are determined to be regrettable (and tragic) but under the circumstances, justifiable. The case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, 2014 was a highly sensationalized case that incited much rioting not just locally but in a few major cities in the US. When the facts came out, it was clear that Brown had wrestled with the police officer for his gun and repeatedly failed to obey commands to stop his rushes at the officer. Brown weighed nearly 300 pounds and likely did not even know his own strength. The officer fired the first few rounds at the charging Brown’s arms to deter him. When Brown kept coming, the officer, fearing for his life (understandable) fired his last 2 shots at Brown’s head at close range. Brown was instrumental in his own death.

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