I'm bored by the discussion of race and the media, too. I realize I instigated it but as I stated previously, regardless of race, I'm concerned about the unnecessary lethal force in this situation. I’ve been researching “shooting to wound vs. kill”, examples of CED use in knife crimes and protocols here and in the US regarding knife offenses. This is what has been reported: Powell stole a donut and the convenience store clerk called the police and warned them that he was armed with a knife (fyi, some witnesses on twitter report that it was a butter knife).
In light of this information, I did some research to show you non-lethal methods of controlling knife-wielders and the weapons used to disarm them.
- Here’s a video of a large man (bigger than Powell but also mentally disturbed) being tasered in the US. Note how there’s more than one officer present.
- Here’s another video of a mentally ill man being tasered in Brazil, he’s holding a knife, ready to charge at the officers. Note the number of officers present and how easily they used a taser.
- Here’s a video of a man in London holding a machete. Note how the distance between police and the offender and the number of police officers present. They used pepper spray in this situation.
- Here’s another video of a mentally disturbed man holding two knives. Note the number of police officers present, that he starts charging and how the police officers manoeuvre around him.
- Here’s an article that discusses how UK police officers deal with knife-wielding criminals.
The officers who shot Powell did have a choice. They could have moved away from him. They could have gotten back into their car to protect themselves. They could have run away. All of those options are preferable to killing someone, and those tactics are used in other countries where human life is deemed more valuable than the need to assert authority.
Police protocol in America allows police officers to apply lethal force when there is “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm … to the officer or to others.” So a police officer can basically say, “I thought the guy was a threat, so I killed him”. It’s incredibly subjective, and the broad definition and has lead to the death of around 400 people a year in America, a massively disproportionate number being black. That is compared to zero deaths from police shootings in the England and Wales for 2013/14, and zero police officers killed by attackers.
If the police officers knew Powell was armed, why weren’t there more than two at the scene? Additionally, and I’ll keep repeating it, why did they park so close if they knew he was armed? What is the purpose of that?