When I expressed my disbelief to my 16-year-old son that the police officer responsible for killing Tamir Rice, was not indicted, he replied; why are you surprised, the police never are!
Racial bias most certainly plays a part in the officer’s perception of the threat posed by Tamir Rice. It’s doubtful that the same officer would have reacted the same way if it had been a 12-year-old white kid. That perception has to change!
During 2015, according to the Guardian, 1,139 people were killed by law enforcement officers, 223 of whom were unarmed. The Washington Post lists 980 people killed by police officers, 91 of whom were unarmed. I can only imagine how many more people might have died if police actions were not under scrutiny.
Below is a video compilation of police shootings of mostly unarmed people to demonstrate how easy an innocent person can be killed by mistake by police officers.
Admittedly, police have a dangerous job and I understand their need to protect themselves and their right to go home at the end of their shift. However, many of the unarmed people killed by police also had the right to continue living. If trained police officers are justified killing a 12-year-old kid with a toy gun while playing in a park, then when is it ever unreasonable for an officer to use deadly force? When is the officer’s fear for his safety unreasonable?
During 2015, a total of 129 federal, state and local law enforcement officers died while on duty. Not all of those deaths were caused by violent acts against the officers; 18 died from heart attacks, 8 from illnesses, 32 from automobile or motorcycle accidents, and 4 from other accidents.
When the deaths from illness and accidents are excluded, a total of 67 law enforcement officers from the FBI, U.S. Border Patrol, Marshal Service, State Police, Highway Patrol, local police and other agencies were killed.
I want police officers to go home after their shifts, but I also want my sons to come home after their encounters with those officers. I don’t want them to fear those encounters.
Unfortunately, biases both conscious and unconscious exist and influence how many police officers react and interact with others. We have seen too many horrible videos of police treating people poorly and it needs to stop.
People with the least power are victimized the most. The more you educate yourself about the law and your rights you decrease the likelihood that you will be victimized.