Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Methods That Police Use on the Mentally Ill Are Madness

with one comment

Interesting article (with videos) in the Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf:

When This American Life dedicated two episodes to law enforcement in the United States, they titled them, “Cops See It Differently.” Citing examples like the NYPD killing of Eric Garner, which gave rise to the “I can’t breath” protests, the show illustrated how police and non-uniformed citizens assessing the same incidents would draw wildly different conclusions even after watching video footage. Last year, I observed the same phenomenon when St. Louis, Missouri, police officers shot and killed Kajieme Powell in another videotaped encounter. Many cops saw a guy with a knife who didn’t drop it and a justified use of lethal force. Critics pointed out that there was never an attempt to deescalate the situation. A similar disconnect followed the Cleveland police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

And this week, newly released video footage is giving Americans yet another glimpse at how police are trained, their mindset, and how the results can be lethal. The killing happened last year in Dallas, Texas. The mother of Jason Harrison, a black man with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, called police to say that he was off his meds. She wanted help getting him to the hospital—something she’d received before without incident—and requested cops trained to handle the mentally ill.

What happened next is graphic and upsetting to watch.

Within seconds of the door being opened, the two police officers saw that Harrison was fumbling with a screwdriver. They began shouting at him to drop it and quickly shot him five times. The moment just prior to the shooting is captured incompletely in the body cam footage. In conflicting reports each officer said that Harrison lunged at the other, according to CNN. An attorney hired to represent Harrison’s family says Jason posed no threat and argues that had he really lunged, his body would’ve filled the lens of the officer’s body cam before he was shot.

As this story makes the rounds at various news outlets the comments sections have functioned like a microcosm of the police/policed disconnect. Take the discussion at Fusion. Various commenters argued that the police officers overreacted, wondered why they didn’t use a taser or pepper spray instead of bullets, and otherwise questioned their judgment. “Why can a cop never back up and talk someone down?” Christopher Street asked. “Is it a concern that this will be perceived as a weakness? That’s actually a question, not a criticism. Why is force always the first instinct? Didn’t this escalate way too quickly? All it took was 20 seconds from the door opening. And then the lack of urgency after the shots, yelling at a dying/dead man to drop a screw driver he obviously wasn’t going to use.”

In a series of rebuttals, a police officer from another state, Jake Rouse, articulated some common law-enforcement perspectives. Here are several of his arguments:

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 March 2015 at 1:43 pm

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Brian By Experience.

    Brian Dead Rift Webb

    26 March 2015 at 8:36 pm


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