Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This is an old piece from 1999 but still worth reading. The writer, Vin Suprynowicz, a Nevada journalist at the time, talks about reactions from police officers who respond to a column he wrote about "the death of 32-year-old Las Vegan John Perrin, who was armed only with a basketball."
The most chilling, though, was probably the lengthy reply of T.B., an officer with the Cleveland police department. T.B. firmly asserts police have every right to shoot unarmed suspects "100 times, if necessary."
The Suprynowicz says 80 of the 118 police officers who responded to him about the column had similar sentiments, using language more or less blunt as that ugly sample. Fortunately, other respondents were more sensible, more aware of their duty to the public. Sgt. Michael O'Malley of Wayne, New Jersey said,
Ultimately, the coroner's jury decided that the officer's very subjective fears, rather than the objective facts, justified the use of deadly force. That is a frightening conclusion for the jury to have reached. It is even more disturbing if it be the standard by which police officers decide between life and death.

After being in the middle of the military-style search warrant execution at my own home, I have to agree: When the cops are sure that their own fears will justify the extreme actions they take, no one is safe.

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