Screenshot of moment right before police shot and killed a homeless man on Skid Row in Los Angeles
He resisted arrest.
The Taser didn't work.
He went for the officer's weapon.
We feared for our lives.
Some variation/iteration of these four statements are made every time police in the United States shoot and kill someone—now occuring an average of over three times per day.
Yesterday, in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, a homeless man everyone called "Africa" was shot five times by police. All four of the above excuses were used, almost immediately, to justify his death. Police are claiming that at least one officer wore a body camera. A disturbing video of the shooting posted on Facebook is already nearing 10 million views.
Head below the fold for the video of this latest killing and more:
The majority of homeless men are struggling with severe depression, mental illness, and the everyday physical/emotional effects of living a hard life on the streets. This man was no different, and at least one resident of the area, Ina Murphy, claimed that "Africa" had told her that "he had recently been released after spending 10 years in a mental facility."
An area resident, who identified himself as Booker T. Washington, said police had come by repeatedly to ask Africa to take down his tent. People are allowed to sleep on the streets from 9 p.m to 6 a.m., but they are supposed to remove their tents in the daytime under a court agreement.
“This man got shot over a tent,” Washington said.
The bottom line is this: Police in America are shooting and killing people at an outrageously alarming rate. While the United Kingdom averages less than one fatal police shooting per year
, the United States averages three per day, and small towns like Pasco, Washington, with just 59,000 residents, outpace the police shootings
of nations with 60 million people, causing publications like The Economist
to just flat out call American police "trigger happy."
And the bottom line is this: It's true. Our police are trigger happy. Blame it on training or whatever you want, but our police are shooting and killing people like it's the wild, wild West.
Other nations have mentally ill people.
Other nations have homeless people.
Other nations have encounters that require police to confront people and arrest them, but police in other countries somehow figure out how to leave those encounters without shooting people to death.
The tired excuse of American police shooting so many people because so many Americans have guns is played out.
Amadou Diallo, Tamir Rice, Kendrec McDade, Sean Bell, Akai Gurley, and Ramarley Graham didn't have guns.
Brian Beaird, a mentally ill war veteran with a traumatic brain injury, didn't have a gun.
Antonio Zambrano-Montes didn't have a gun. He was throwing rocks.
Lavall Hall didn't have a gun. He had a red broom.
Kristina Coignard, a mentally ill teenage girl, didn't have a gun.
A Denver teenage girl, Jessie Hernandez, didn't have a gun.
Jerame Reid didn't have a gun.
James Boyd, living in Albuquerque mountains and struggling with mental illness, didn't have a gun.
This list could go on and on and on. The point is to say that police are shooting and killing men, women, boys, and girls who don't have guns every single day in America and it's despicable.
Our police either don't care to find non-violent or non-lethal ways of de-escalating conflicts or just flat out don't know how. Either way, our current system is unsustainable and is causing unprecedented levels of frustration in America that will soon boil over if not thoroughly and properly addressed.