Letter to the editor: Laws need to change in response to shootings
To the editor:
Cops in our our country have a license to kill. In a nutshell, if a peace officer fears for his life—the officer can kill. The law requires "objective reasonableness" to shoot—as judged by a reasonable officer on the scene. This is a tough conversation. But, I strongly believe you can have great regard for law enforcement and still hold them to high standards. These are our friends and family, too.
By now, you probably know that a man named, Philando Castile, was killed in Falcon Heights, Minnesota with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter in the car. Mr. Castile was shot in his car while he tried to get out his driver's license. While he bled out, his girlfriend filmed his passing. Officer Yanez did not appear fearful before the shooting, But after shooting Mr. Castile, Officer Yanez yelled profanities, and offered no aid to the dying man. The killing was not the response of reasonable peace officer. Videos can never tell the whole story but they can help reveal some of the truth.
This month, a friend of mine lost his best friend. Justine Damond was shot in Minneapolis after she made two 911 calls to the Minneapolis police. She thought someone was being assaulted in the alley behind her house and needed help. When the squad car arrived, Justine approached the car and Officer Noor shot her from inside the passenger-side of their squad car, across his partner, striking her in the abdomen and taking her life. They attempted CPR. Even though the officers were being called to the scene for a possible assault, neither officer had turned on their body camera, nd the dashboard camera was off, too. Justine, was an amazing woman, who taught peace and meditation. She died in her pajamas because was trying to do what she always did which was to try to help others lead a more peaceful life. Justine was going to be married this month. Now, her husband-to-be and his son will be planning her funeral.
The key message is this: We need to change the law. Juries do their best, but if an officer is afraid, then jurors are placed in a legal dilemma, and typically acquit. We kill too easily. America has built a culture of fear—in our society and in law-enforcement training. We need our peace officers to slow down the timeline before they kill. The families of Philando and Justine are speaking with one voice. Fear cannot be an excuse to kill.