Monday, December 14, 2015

The unnecessary death of Mario Woods

In the United States, police officers use lethal force more than in other countries. There’s an epidemic of police killings. In some jurisdictions of the United States shooting to kill is accepted police practice. However, every state fails to comply with international standards for use of lethal force.

The killing of 26-year-old Mario Woods by San Francisco police officers on December 2 is a case in point. Nationwide, in these incidents, the killing scenarios are the same. The encounter involves someone, most often African American men, with a knife, club, or bat. Police repeatedly order the person to drop their weapon. In Woods case a knife. They refuse to drop it. Police shoot and kill the person with a hail of gunfire. Police officers fired at Woods at least 15 to 20 times. As with every police chief faced with the same situation, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr announced  Wood’s killing was justified because the suspect’s knife posed a threat to the lives of police.

The killings are presented as firing squads, executing suspects that are apparently mentally ill, high on narcotics, or suspects who don’t have the wherewithal to respond appropriately to the police. If the suspect is sitting in a wheelchair makes no difference.

Many police departments train their officers to respond in the same way as the San Francisco police department. However, Wood’s killing was unnecessary to protect the police officers from a life-threatening attack, especially when there were five officers involved. Nationwide there has been as many as 400 out of 1,000 police killings that were unnecessary because police officers were responding to incidents that posed minimum risk to their lives.

Multiple shots by police are unnecessary. Aiming for center mass is not necessary. One well-placed shot, a shot in the leg or shoulder for example, would be enough to bring the subject down, disable, and disarm the subject.

Pink area indicates critical mass
where police officers are trained to target because it inflicts greater damage and kills
“The use of lethal force by law enforcement officers raises serious human rights concerns, including in regard to the right to life, the right to security of the person, the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to equal protection of the law.”

Copyright © Horatio Green 2015