IN THE WAKE OF 9/11, THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY DOLED OUT BILLIONS TO LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS, AND “JUSTIFIABLE SHOOTINGS” HAVE BEEN ON THE RISE EVER SINCE. HUSTLER EXAMINES THIS NATIONAL EPIDEMIC OF FATALITIES WITH AN EYE TOWARD PERMANENT SOLUTIONS.
A scourge of questionable police shootings has afflicted our nation, leading to widespread protests and intense scrutiny of how, why and when officers use deadly force, particularly against unarmed suspects and the mentally ill.
In Dallas in 2014 two police officers were called to a house by a black mother whose bipolar, schizophrenic son was off his meds and acting erratically. The mother answered the police knock on the door, followed out by her son, Jason Harrison, who was holding a small screwdriver that the officers demanded he drop. About three seconds later Harrison was dead, still holding the screwdriver which, according to the officers’ own video, hadn’t been brandished in a threatening manner. No attempt had been made to use incapacitating pepper spray or a taser first against a person known to be mentally ill and incapable of sound judgment.
That same year police received a report of a person, “probably a juvenile,” waving a gun around in a public park in Cleveland. The caller noted that the gun was “probably fake.” A police cruiser zoomed to a sudden stop in front of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and one officer immediately shot him dead without warning. The gun was indeed a fake, and it had never been pointed at the officers.
Twenty-one-year-old Iraq war veteran Elio Carrion was lying prostrate on the ground, unarmed, after a vehicle chase in 2006 in San Bernardino. His drunken buddy, the driver, had refused to obey the flashing red lights until finally cornered. Although Carrion was not responsible for his friend’s wild actions, he ended up on the receiving end of frontier justice. The officer told Carrion to stand up. “I’m standing up now,” said Carrion, rising from a push-up position beside the car. Immediately the deputy, Ivory Webb, unloaded three bullets into Carrion’s back, all captured by a citizen’s smartphone video.