There is a fundamental difference between what has become standard operating procedure in the United States when attempting to apprehend a suspect who poses a possible threat, and what is advertised to the rest of the world as the fair and balanced American justice system. There is no question that police officers have a very dangerous job in which they are forced to make decisions on the fly that can later be scrutinized in hindsight. This can leave a split second decision, when a cop felt his life might be in danger, open to interpretation; a luxury not afforded to the officer in the moment. However, what has shockingly become the norm for apprehending a suspect who is perceived to be dangerous, is the use of lethal force when either, not all non-lethal options had been attempted, or there was no lethal threat to the officers, yet death was dealt out just as swiftly as a parking ticket. It is also important to remember that many within the police force also feel that there is a problem, and are beginning to raise awareness, usually at their own expense.
In the year 2015, there was shockingly over 1100 people killed by police shootings. Some of which were justifiable, yet many were not a threat and even completely unarmed. This more than doubles the highest number of police shootings ever reported by the FBI for an entire year. This can no longer be disregarded. Something is broken within a system that allows this level of lethal activity to go unacknowledged. Even the small few who are being held accountable for the “unjustified use of lethal force” end up dancing around the justice system for months. They are then most often let off with a slap on the wrist while the family of the departed are left to mourn, wonder and question a “justice system” that no longer seems to be dealing out justice.
Even in a case as obviously unjust, as that of officer Jason Van Dyke, he was charged an entire year after the blatant murder of Laquan McDonald that was caught on tape. The teen was shot 16 times within 6 seconds of the officer leaving his vehicle and McDonald was clearly not a threat in that moment as seen below. Even if the officer felt his life was in danger, shouldn’t non-lethal options have been attempted first? And even if the officer felt he had no time to consider a non-lethal option, how can anyone justify shooting a teen holding a small knife well out of reach, 16 times? Was a single shot to the leg out of the question? Yet even that would be unjustified after reviewing the circumstances below. Reports also confirm that Van Dyke was attempting to reload to resume firing, but his fellow officer on the scene had to tell him to stand down. This was the first time in 35 years, a police officer was charged with first degree murder, despite the many egregious acts that have been witnessed and even caught on tape in recent years alone.
Are the American people currently living in a police state? This is a question The Last American Vagabond urges all to consider after watching the following videos. Below are three incidents caught on tape of police encounters with men holding nothing more than a knife. In two of the videos, the men are shot to death in a blaze of gun fire when it is quite clear that lethal force was not necessary in the moment. In the third, the man is carefully and successfully taken down with no loss of life to the police, and most importantly he remains alive today. This demonstrates a police force that embodies the classic montra: “To Protect and Serve” instead of what seems to be the current montra of the American Police State: “Lethal Force for all Who Resist.”
Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/09/08/how-many-police-shootings-a-year-no-one-knows/, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-police-detective-manslaughter-trial-0421-met-20150420-story.html