Under law, in the United States, police are allowed to use lethal force
if they are reasonably afraid for their personal safety or the safety of others. However, being allowed
to kill citizens and the act actually being the best option for everyone involved are two wildly different conclusions.
On February 3, 2013, in London, outside of Buckingham Palace, a man, 54-year-old Talhat Rehman, armed with two very large, sharp kitchen knives was subdued by an officer with a stun gun. As the man approached the officer with the knives, the officer calmly backed up, allowing the electricity to incapacitate the man, and officers took the knives away. In the video interview after the incident, an officer on the scene described what happened in such a calm and cool way that it almost seems as if he couldn't imagine it being done any other way:
Now, please look at two videos below the fold where American police officers were faced with similar situations.
On July 1, 2012, in Saginaw, Michigan, police confronted Milton Hill, homeless and mentally ill, who was armed with a knife. Police, with guns drawn and a police dog barking, surrounded Hill and, fearing for their safety, they fired 46 shots and hit Hill 15 times (meaning they missed a frightening 31 times), killing him there on the spot. It's an awful video, but when watched in conjunction with the video from London, it shows just how preventable the excessive shooting death of Hill truly was.
On August 19, 2014, police shot and killed Kajieme Powell
. Kajieme was armed with a knife, and, like the men featured in the videos from London and Michigan, appeared to be having a mental breakdown of some sort. Within seconds of confronting Kajieme, police shot and killed him, citing that they feared for their safety.
Police need the ability to be able to protect themselves, but lethal force is clearly not the only way this is possible. The sheer fact that innocent men and women, or those battling mental illness, are ever on the receiving end of this lethal force should be reason enough for our nation to do everything it can to find reasonable alternatives.