Cops Are People. Criminals Are People. Sometimes The Same People.

When someone becomes a police officer, they are trained for every possible situation. They are trained on how to deal with mentally ill people. They are given classes on how to avoid racial bias and profiling. They even have to repeat those classes every five years. (Source) They know how to use their firearms, when to use their firearms, and when not to use their firearms. Or, at least, they should.

Richard Combs

54-year-old black man Bernard Bailey was shot twice in the chest by a South Carolina police chief named Richard Combs during an argument over a parking ticket. Combs has since been charged with murder.

There are cases where lethal force is the only option. If someone is waving a gun around and presents a serious threat to police or civilians, innocents obviously take precedence over the person threatening them. However, there are protocols in doing so. The Use Of Force Continuum is an escalating series of actions an officer may take to resolve a conflict. Each department’s UFC varies slightly, but the basic steps go like this:

Michael Dunn

17-year-old Jordan Davis was killed by Officer Michael Dunn on Nov. 23, 2012, during an altercation over loud music outside a gas station. Dunn was found guilty of first-degree murder and will spend life in prison.

Officer Presence–No force is used. Considered the best way to resolve a situation. (“Is everything all right, gentlemen?”) Verbalization–Non-physical force is used. (“DROP THE GUN!”)  Empty-Hand Control– Officers use bodily force to gain control of a situation. (Grabs, holds, punches, and kicks.) Less-Lethal Methods–Officers use less-lethal technologies to gain control of a situation. (Tasers, batons, and pepper spray.) Lethal Force–Officers use lethal weapons to gain control of a situation. Should only be used if a suspect poses a serious threat to the officer or another individual. 

Miyekko Durden-Bosley

23-year-old Miyekko Durden-Bosley had her eye socket broken by a police officer named Adley Shepherd as he attempted to arrest her for alleged domestic abuse. In the video taken of the event, Durden-Bosley shouted expletives and then kicked him in the chin. In response, Shepherd pulled her towards him and punched her in the face. Prosecutors state that it was not unreasonable force.

Tamir Rice should not have happened. Michael Brown should not have happened. Eric Garner should not have happened. Kathryn Johnston, Yvette Smith, Bernard Bailey, Jordan Davis, none of it should have happened.

Here are the facts: Tamir Rice was twelve. He was playing with an AirSoft gun in a public park, waving it around, pointing it at passerby. Someone got alarmed, called the police. “It’s probably fake, but it’s scaring the [expletive] out of me. He’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. He’s probably a juvenile.” Police officer Timothy Loehmann pulled up in his car. Less than five seconds later, Tamir was dead. The dispatcher did not mention that the gun might be fake. Loehmann was never even sent to trial. Draw your own conclusions, but I believe that this is wrong.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones

Seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was shot by an overzealous Detroit police team on the popular “48 Hours” true crime show who busted into the wrong apartment and opened fire without looking.

Bernard Bailey was fifty-four. He went to the Town Hall of a tiny little town in South Carolina to argue about his daughter’s broken taillight ticket. Police chief Richard Combs attempted to arrest him for obstruction of justice. Bailey went back outside to his truck, and Combs followed him, attempting to enter the vehicle. There was a brief struggle, and then Combs shot Bailey twice in the chest. Over a ticket. I’m not sure what conclusions there are to draw. There is no excusing this.

Yvette Smith

48-year-old Yvette Smith was shot by Deputy Daniel Willis in her home during February 2014. According to the deputy’s original story, she was armed when she opened the door, but later on the department retracted its statement and said they weren’t sure if she was armed. Willis’ 25 year old son says he doesn’t even think there was a gun in the house.

Michael Brown was seventeen. We don’t know what happened, not for sure. Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted, which means there was not enough evidence to send him to trial. He did not get off scot-free. The FBI is investigating the case right now. What we do know is that the case sparked the Ferguson riots.

Kathryn Johnston

92 year old Kathryn Johnston was shot five times in a botched drug raid on her Atlanta home two years ago. The officers were convicted on falsifying paperwork in order to get a warrant. Johnston fired on the officers once during the raid, and they fired 39 shots, five of which hit the old woman. The raid occurred in November 2006, and the officers were sentenced in February 2009.

After the non-indictment verdict, Michael Brown’s mother, standing on top of a car, started to cry, and his stepfather shouted “Burn this [expletive] down!” The crowd around him obeyed. 20 businesses were set on fire, and 12 of them burned to the ground. Other businesses were looted, and 12 vehicles were torched. None of the businesses looted and burned were large chain businesses. They were all owned by locals, many of them black. Police officers were attacked, having things thrown at them, including what appeared to be smoke bombs, flares, and frozen water bottles, and cop cars were torched.

Rekia Boyd

Rekia Boyd, a 22 year old black woman, was killed by a drunk, off-duty Chicago police officer on December 3rd, 2014. The police officer got into an altercation with one of Boyd’s friends over a noise complaint, and fired five shots from his car, one of which hit Boyd in the back of the head, resulting in death. The officer will be the first CPD officer in almost ten years to go to trial over shooting an unarmed person.

Maybe the rioters were acting in a spirit of righteous anger. I don’t think so. Righteous anger doesn’t spark looting and theft, or the destruction of your friends’ and neighbours’ businesses. An inclination for chaos does. Or an inclination for free stuff. #StandUpWalkOut is an acceptable form of protest. The Ferguson riots are not.

Admittedly, so far no one has died. That doesn’t make it okay.

Ferguson Riots

Protesters returned to the riot-scarred streets of Ferguson on Tuesday, a day after crowds looted businesses and set fire to buildings in a night of rage against a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown.

I’m not looking for the guilty cops to get off. Any of them. I’m not looking for them to die, or be stolen from, or even to go to prison for life. I want public trials so that these cops can be treated like anyone else who kills an unarmed person, and at the rate things are going, we’re going to get one. These people will still be dead, but the cops will receive justice.

These police officers need to be treated like people, and not cops. With the same emotions as anyone else, the same mistakes, the same laws. These people do not represent the police force. Don’t let them.

Michael Brown Funeral

Michael Brown Sr. yells out as his son is lowered into the ground.

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