The tragic shooting death of unarmed Ferguson teen Mike Brown by police has triggered much debate on law enforcements’ use of deadly force on citizens, particularly people of color.
USA Today learned of racial disparities in police shootings and found a white police officer was involved in the killing of a black person nearly two times a week in the United States from 2005 to 2012.
The findings reportedly show 18 percent of blacks killed during those seven years were under age 21, compared to 8.7 percent of whites. This figures means blacks in this age demographic are 50 percent more likely to be killed by police than whites.
(Source: USA Today)
(Source: USA Today)
Police are reportedly involved in 400 killings per year.
The figure could potentially be higher as only 750 law enforcement agencies out of 17,000 submitted to the FBI report.
USA Today Investigative reporter Brad Heath noted all of Florida’s police agencies don’t submit to the FBI report.
The life of 25-year-old Kajieme Powell ended in an instant after he approached two St. Louis Police officers with a knife. The officers fired nine bullets into Powell. They then placed Powell in handcuffs as he lay dead on the ground.
A similar incident occurred in the United Kingdom with police successfully subduing a man armed with two large knives.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson backed the officers’ decision to use lethal force on Powell.
“Certainly a Taser is an option that’s available to the officers, but Tasers aren’t 100 percent,” Dotson said, according to the Huffington Post. “So you’ve got an individual with a knife who’s moving towards you, not listening to any verbal commands, continues, says, ‘shoot me now, kill me now.’ Tasers aren’t 100 percent. if that Taser misses, that [individual] continues on and hurts an officer.”
“In a lethal situation, they used lethal force,” he added.
James Holmes was the suspect in the high-profile mass shooting that took place inside a movie theater in Aurora, CO. Holmes was armed with tear gas grenades, a M-16 rifle, a pump-action 12-gage shotgun and a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol when he killed 12 moviegoers and injured 70 others.
Holmes, who happens to be white, was arrested without incident outside of the theater.
A Beaverton, OR white man high on mushrooms was involved in a physical altercation with nine police officers inside city hall. He got a hold of an officer’s gun during the struggle and fired one shot. He was eventually arrested.
The use of deadly force on people of color has often been parodied in media. Jazz of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air kept his hands raised when taking the stand in court.
When chided by Uncle Phil to put his hands down, Jazz replied, “No way, dude’s got a gun. Next thing you know, I got six warning shots in my back.”
In Spike Lee’s classic film “Bamboozled,” a militant rap group called the “Mau Maus” was fatally shot by police. Surprisingly, the only member who wasn’t shot was the group’s only white member “One-Sixteenth Black.”
Police brutality was even an issue in the 70s. Redd Foxx, on of the world’s greatest comedians, commented on the issue on an episode of “Sanford and Son.”
Brown’s shooting death has spurred many activists to action in hopes of fixing racist practices against people of color. One of these demands includes law enforcement agencies being required to hire officers of different ethnic backgrounds to reflect the racial makeup of the cities it polices.
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