South Carolina shooting once again shows cops must be held accountable

Image Source: badsci

Image Source: badsci

Charleston, South Carolina (TFC) – It is a scene right out of a crime drama. A man on the run, getting shot in the back multiple times, losing his life violently. This shooting is a clear cut case of murder, and it is one that has happened far too often over the years, and has taken far too many lives. The culprits are people who are supposed to maintain the peace, not destroy it. These thugs wear badges and have gotten away with murder as a result. Without a substantial commitment to accountability, the stories will continue to hit the news wire.

The original argument from the police department in North Charleston, South Carolina was a tale we hear far too often. An officer who feared for his life fires his weapon at an unarmed suspect who dies at the scene. Like many have argued, that explanation would have been accepted as the truth if it was not for Feiden Santana doing the right thing and videotaping Officer Michael Slager attempting to arrest Walter Scott. Santana told MSNBC he considered erasing the video, but decided to go against that thought because he is tired of police, “taking advantage of their power.”

The public has a bias towards police that is based on the belief that cops are heroes who risk their lives to protect us. It doesn’t matter what the event is, or what the circumstances are, cops are always given the benefit of doubt; they are always defended, and rarely face charges. This time the story is different. Thanks to Santana the world sees Slager was not under threat when he ended Scott’s life; they saw him dropping what appears to be a taser next to the body.

Knowing the mainstream media and the general public is always on the side of law enforcement, Slager decided it was time to take a life, and then tried to frame the poor soul he gunned down. Slager is yet another example of a man who should have never been granted the right to hold a badge and a gun, nor will he be the last. Until a major overhaul of the way police enforce the law is implemented into police forces across America we will not see any improvements.

Body Cams

The murder of Walter Scott is Exhibit A as to why every single cop should be recorded. If a bystander sees an officer interacting with a civilian, there should be nothing to hold back that bystander from recording; even more important, every officer should be required to wear body cams.

Police in Rialto, California do just that, and the results show how body cameras can help prevent more murders and assaults by police. In a span of one year complaints against officers dropped by 88%, and use of force dropped 60%. These officers know every movement, every decision, and every choice is being monitored. They know an unjustifiable use of force could cost their department a massive controversy, could cost them their jobs, or put them in a prison cell.

Body cameras also leave absolutely no doubt whenever an investigation is needed. Installing video recording devices will protect officers from false accusations, and it will give the public a peace of mind, but that doesn’t mean everyone supports the idea. Writing for Police One, Tim Dees argued the devices are too expensive and time consuming to store every second of the video; that may be the case, but if police departments can purchase weapons of war, they can afford body cameras. Crime is down, and police forces are using military machinery to respond to drug warrants, or minor violations; those events do not warrant any use of armored vehicles. Police forces have spent money so they walk around looking like real life G.I Joe’s, when it is not their job to take the streets to war. They are there to protect and serve, and have failed in their duty. The American public has lost trust in the police, and one way to regain that trust is to leave nothing secret, and place cameras on every officer.

Sadly though, recordings haven’t stopped many officers from ending lives. John Crawford III was gunned down at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio for the crime of wanting to purchase a BB gun. Within seconds, an officer shot and killed Crawford, who was not pointing the gun. Even worse; Ohio has open carry laws that allow citizens to take guns out in public. So, had Crawford been armed it was the responsibility of the responding officers to determine whether or not it was a legally obtained firearm. Instead they chose to open fire on a man who was not harming or threatening to harm anyone,  within seconds of locating him inside of the store. No officers were indicted by a grand jury, even when a video existed. What is also needed is a complete overhaul as to what officers are taught to do.

Better Training

The Slager case has fanned the flames in race relations throughout the country. Many in the African American community believe cops have no respect for their lives, but blacks are not the only ones who have a right to fear for their lives. It has become all too common in America for police to use the mentally ill for target practice.

The family of Yanira Serrano-Garcia, called 911 after the 18-year-old was having a manic episode. Refusing to take her medication and acting erratically, Serrano-Garcia was accused of lunging at officers with a knife who shot her dead.

Even more sickening, Milton Hall, was gunned down firing squad style by six officers in Saginaw, Michigan, as mentioned by Matt Agorist for The Free Thought Project, officers simply could have apprehended the man who was armed with only a pocket knife.

In North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Anthony Holzhauer, was not charged after he shot and killed 20-year old Janisha Fonville, who like Serrano-Garcia lunged at a police officer with a knife. Prosecutors believed Holzhauer used proper force as he thought his life was threatened, but even if that is the case, the mentally ill should be apprehended differently than any suspect. It has gotten to the point where concerned family members in America who need help for their mentally ill loved ones are risking the lives of their loved ones in the event that they call the police for help.

Thousands of miles north, one police force is doing something revolutionary and intelligent. Police in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who respond to cases involving the mentally ill, are now partnered with mental health professionals. After a successful pilot program, the department found partnering mental health professionals with police officers reduces the number of mentally ill persons from being tossed into jail. If implemented by other forces, the lives of the mentally ill could be saved, however; properly dealing with the mentally ill is not the only training police officers need to take; they also need to hit the gym.

In a shocking study that adds another problem to the issue of police brutality; the FBI found 80% of all police officers in the U.S are overweight. In a job that is often physically demanding, it is sickening that people who can’t run long distances or use their strength to peacefully handle a situation are able to maintain employment in a profession where fitness should be mandatory. If cops aren’t in shape, they can’t do their jobs, and they can kill people.

Danielle Maudsley is no longer with us because Trooper Daniel Cole, was incapable of chasing the handcuffed Maudsley, who ended up smashing her head on concrete after being tasered; never waking up again. As the video shows, Trooper Cole is clearly overweight. If he wasn’t, he would have been able to catch the suspect who was only a few feet away. Because he was overweight at the time, Maudsley is dead. The need for police to be in shape and videotaped at all times is still not enough to stop this epidemic.

Arrest and Prosecute Every Criminal Cop

It should not matter if you are a priest, a politician, or a cop; if you commit a crime you should be arrested, charged, and prosecuted if evidence points to your culpability in committing a crime. Murder is murder, assault is assault; badges should not grant you extra rights. Unless it is proven without question and honestly investigated without interference from police unions, that a use of force was justified, any cop that uses force without justification should be removed from the force and charged.

This madness has to end. Police officers are supposed to protect people, not gun them down like state sponsored thugs.