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Another Pointless Police Shooting

“Just be more respectful to the police!”
“Comply and cooperate!”
“Black people wouldn’t keep getting shot if they stopped acting like criminals!”

A behavioral therapist and an autistic man. The therapist (black) was on the ground with his hands in the air. He identified himself to the police. He told them the other man was playing with a toy truck.

The police fired three shots. They hit the therapist in the leg. They handcuffed both men, and left the therapist bleeding in the street for 20 minutes.

When the therapist asked why he’d been shot, the officer allegedly said, “I don’t know.”

Later, he said he’d been aiming for the autistic man, but missed. (Three times.)

To those blaming unarmed black men for being shot by the police, how will you justify this one?

Yes, being a police officer is a difficult job. There are times when you have to shoot to stop the bad guy, to protect your life and the life of others. Apparently the police had received a call about a suicidal man with a gun earlier that day.

But if you can mistake a black man on the ground with his hands up and an autistic man playing with a truck for an immediate and deadly threat, maybe you shouldn’t be a police officer.

What will it take for this country to realize so many of these police shootings are unnecessary? To realize how many people are dead for no good reason. For no reason except our learned fear of black men?

And the fact that they’re trying to *justify* this by saying the officer was shooting at the autistic man? Horrifying. Frightening. Disgusting. And another example of our abysmal handling of psychological and mental health issues, both as a society in general, and in law enforcement specifically.

There are individual police departments working to do better. There are a lot of good cops out there. But it’s not enough. We need to do better as a nation. More training, accountability, and less-lethal options from the people we have empowered to enforce the law. (Better laws would help as well, in many cases.) We need to demand better from our elected leaders, and vote out those who refuse to push for changes that would help everyone, including the police.

Until we do, innocent people will continue to be shot. They will continue to die. And for what? The crime of being black? Of being mentally ill?

Stop making excuses. Stop letting people die while we look the other way. Stop pretending everything’s fine because acknowledging anything else might make you uncomfortable. Stop enabling a culture and a system that steals the lives of innocent people.

Did the officer consciously and deliberately set out to shoot an innocent, unarmed black man? I highly doubt it. He may be telling the truth when he says he was intending to save the therapist from an (imagined) threat.

But intentions don’t stop gunshots. They don’t heal bullet holes. They don’t bring back the dead.


North Miami Police Shoot Black Man Who Said His Hands Were Raised While He Tried to Help an Autistic Patient

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2016 01:32 am (UTC)
Great article. I just shared it on FB (and added you there - I'm Jen K)
Jul. 22nd, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
I watched one argument elsewhere and something struck me.

One person was saying that if a segment of a population is getting away with something and the rest of that same population is doing nothing there is complicity. The response in the case of police was that how dare anyone question police trying to do their job and how unfair that was.

As a gay man?

We say the same to anti-GBLT crimes. We say the same thing to lawmakers and neighbours and everyone who doesn't stand up. We say that to men when women are raped or attacked. Why, then, is it that we give a pass to police? That we sit and look at moments like this and the first, pervasive, narrative is : not all police.


Of COURSE if police are doing wrong they should be held accountable. And their forces should be held accountable if nothing happens. It's not about, for me, tearing down police forces, it's about saying : not good enough. Nowhere NEAR good enough. It's not about saying there isn't good, but that "good officers" is NOT enough.


Just came back from Durban, South Africa. And race, class and violence are hugely on my mind right now. This... just seems so... (hand flailing) pointless. To even think of discussing this as anything other than "oh hell NO" wrong.
Jul. 22nd, 2016 02:10 am (UTC)
The VERY FIRST thing that needs to happen is that when we have a situation like this, the cop in question needs to lose his job. No, it's #notallcops, but it IS the same ones over and over again, just like social rapists. The new police chief in Dallas started out by reviewing the records and firing 70 officers. Their police-brutality reports dropped from nearly 200 last year to only thirteen so far this year. That tells you where most of the reports were coming from.

The SECOND thing that needs to happen is that when a cop loses his job for excessive force, he can't just go a few miles down the road to another department and get hired back on. The cop who beat and arrested Sandra Bland for a minor traffic offense had been fired from the city police force for too many excessive-force complaints. The county sheriff's office had no problem with that. And a woman is dead as a result. THIS MUST BE STOPPED.

I'm starting to float the idea of a nationwide registry for violent cops, similar to the one for sex offenders. Once you get on it, you can never work in a LEO capacity again, anywhere in the country. If another department hires you anyhow and you screw up again, the feds come down on that department like a ton of bricks.

Jul. 22nd, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
After the therapist was shot, he was cuffed and put face-down on the ground and it was over 20 minutes before medical help arrived. No effort at first aid was applied. And the police were having to handle an autistic man in a high-stress situation while a therapist was lying there, cuffed, and bleeding?

What an unbelievable situation. It used to be that Driving While Black was what got you shot. Then it became Walking While Black, now it's Living Being Black.
Jul. 22nd, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
let's hurry up and kill some more cops
Jul. 22nd, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC)
WTF is wrong with you?
Jul. 22nd, 2016 04:30 pm (UTC)
Apparently, the cop now says, in essence, "Oh no, it was just a bad shot, I was trying to shoot the AUTISTIC person" as though this absolves him of any wrong-doing.
Jul. 22nd, 2016 07:46 pm (UTC)
So why handcuff someone you supposedly shot by mistake, someone you were supposedly protecting from the guy with the gun toy truck? Why delay treatment? I don't buy that.

Not that it's any better either way.
(no subject) - mlknchz - Jul. 22nd, 2016 10:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beccastareyes - Jul. 25th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2016 02:22 am (UTC)
Yes, this is one of those situations - the Oscar Grant shooting was another - when the explanation, instead of being exculpatory, only makes things worse. Thus, now it turns out that 1) the officer can't tell a toy truck from a gun, and 2) is a really bad shot.
Jul. 22nd, 2016 09:37 pm (UTC)
Note: I haven't read the article yet; this is a response ONLY to one line in Jim's post:
Later, he said he’d been aiming for the autistic man, but missed. (Three times.)

I don't know why he was aiming for the autistic guy, but I do absolutely believe that he fired three times and missed.

Cops miss. A LOT. Even the ones with excellent range scores. Trying to hit a large target, even at close range, when you're under stress, is not as easy as you think. When you're wondering if there's another guy out there with a rifle who has set up this situation to take YOU out--and you show me ONE SINGLE COP who has not had that thought cross his mind since the Gavin Long incident in Baton Rouge--you're under incredible stress.

I used to think that cops continuing to shoot at a man who was already down (I'm talking about when the guy had been shooting back, okay? Not a therapist with his hands up!) was overkill and bloodthirsty. Then I went to Writers Police Academy and signed up for the shooting simulations, which were part of the training curriculum for cops. You stand behind a rail, with two other people, and you're given a weapon which has been modified to "fire" a laser beam at a filmed simulation played in front of you, recreations of actual situations cops have found themselves in. A computer registers each time you pull the trigger and where the "bullet" goes.

One simulation was of a guy in an office who had a knife. You follow the camera through the hallway, with hysterical "employees" pointing the way--"He's in there! He's got a knife! Oh, God, he's got Larry!" You come into the office and you are expected to tell the "suspect"--the guy on screen holding a knife at the throat of another guy on screen--to drop the weapon, stand down, all those things. If you fire, the filmed simulation changes. It's a choose-your-own-adventure, cop style.

I don't know of anyone who managed to save the hostage in that simulation. Of my group, at least two of us "killed" him. The hostage, not the bad guy. But since he'd already had his throat slit and the guy with the knife was coming at "us," the only difference it would have made would have been in the headlines.

Another simulation was of a teenager in a school cafeteria with a gun, holding three other teenagers hostage, threatening to shoot them. Other kids, teachers, etc were making hysterical noises in the background. I saw this a couple of times, and if allowed to play through, the kid with the knife would grab another one of the kids and stab him to death. Having seen this before, I fired early, as soon as the kids started moving.

And I continued to fire four more times after the bad guy fell. I was shaking, and my mental state was "and STAY down!" I was not the only one in my group to do so.

The instructor reamed us out for it, too, citing chapter and verse about when it was and was not appropriate and legal to use deadly force and when we should have stopped shooting.

I don't own a gun. I have NO sympathy WHATSOEVER for a cop who would shoot a man lying on the ground with his hands up and clearly in view, or running away from him. NONE. But I do feel for the cop in the middle of a live fire situation trying to do the best he can.

Incidentally, if you're interested in the Writers Police Academy, I recommend it highly. Anyone interested in forensics, police, fire, or emergency response procedures, and How This Stuff Happens will not find a better concentrated education. I've been three times at their old location in North Carolina, and it was, indeed, eye-opening.
Jul. 23rd, 2016 12:07 am (UTC)
Definitely. It's why the idea that cops should shoot a threat in the arm or leg is generally nonsense, and part of my skepticism that an untrained "good guy with a gun" is going to be of use in most active shooter situations.
Jul. 23rd, 2016 07:16 am (UTC)
I would go farther and say that it's the kind of effing crap advocated by people who watch too damn many cop shows. Police are trained to aim for center mass, ALWAYS, and to stop the threat. There is not a law enforcement agency in this country that trains its officers to "shoot to kill." Not one.

I have seen the video of the situation now, and the vitim was lying within touching distance of the autistic guy with the toy truck. The victim was yelling that it WAS a toy, but the cops were primed to see a weapon, and that's what they saw and reacted to. Which is another reason why eyewitness reports are some of the most unreliable evidence there is. It makes it easier to see why the wrong target got hit.

Where the cops truly fucked up was letting the victim lie there for half an hour without any attempt at first aid. I can even see why they cuffed him, at least to start with, but there's no excuse for not at least trying to stop the bleeding while calling for medical assistance.
Re: This. - starcat_jewel - Jul. 24th, 2016 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2016 02:23 am (UTC)
If cops are that bad shots, they shouldn't shoot.
Wuz you dere, Charlie? - badgermirlacca - Jul. 23rd, 2016 06:55 am (UTC) - Expand
How about were you there? - kalimac - Jul. 23rd, 2016 07:10 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: How about were you there? - badgermirlacca - Jul. 23rd, 2016 07:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - kalimac - Jul. 23rd, 2016 11:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - badgermirlacca - Jul. 23rd, 2016 01:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - badgermirlacca - Jul. 23rd, 2016 01:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - kalimac - Jul. 23rd, 2016 01:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - kalimac - Jul. 23rd, 2016 01:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - badgermirlacca - Jul. 23rd, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - kalimac - Jul. 23rd, 2016 01:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - starcat_jewel - Jul. 24th, 2016 01:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: How about were you there? - kalimac - Jul. 24th, 2016 04:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 23rd, 2016 10:26 pm (UTC)
Jim, you might be interested in this Facebook post from the autistic man's sister.


She talks about how her brother is dealing with what happened. Spoiler alert: not well.
Jul. 24th, 2016 03:21 pm (UTC)
Not much of a spoiler. I don't know how anyone would be able to make sense of this or deal with it...
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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