Police Brutality In The News Essay Samples
Current news reports are filled with incidents where police officers have used questionable amounts of force to subdue a suspect. Sometimes these incidents have resulted in the death of a person who may or may not have been guilty of committing any crime. Police officers, who by definition of their jobs, are charged with the tasks of protecting and serving the people in their communities, have themselves become perpetrators of crimes by using unnecessary force during the pursuit and apprehension of possible suspects.
The aspect of these incidents that I find most disturbing is the fact that, until very recently, these errant officers were never made to face criminal charges for their unethical actions. It is as though the laws which average citizens are expected to obey, do not apply to the police. I understand that they have a difficult and dangerous job to perform. I also believe it is probably reasonable to give them some amount of leeway in order to effectively and safely perform this job. I do not, however, believe that holding a badge gives them a free pass for misconduct. In such cases where it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the policeman was acting inappropriately, he should be faced with criminal charges, the same as any other citizen who is accused of murder or aggravated assault.
Consider the recent case of the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. On April 4, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, a daytime traffic stop was initiated because of a broken taillight. The officer on duty was Michael Slager. Scott, a 50 year old black man was a veteran of our armed forces, engaged to be married and had a criminal record. He was allegedly on the way to the auto parts store to purchase a bulb for the taillight when he was pulled over and killed.
The incident was captured on cell phone video by eyewitness Feidin Santana. Officer Slager approached the victim’s car, spoke to him and returned to his own vehicle. At that time, Scott tried to flee on foot, leaving his car and a passenger behind. The policeman used his taser, but Scott got up and continued to run away. Scott was then shot by Slager. Eight shots were fired, five of which hit the victim in the back. The subsequent investigation resulted in the policeman being fired from the police force and he is now facing murder charges.
Slager’s original call to police dispatch has him on record as stating that Scott took his taser and that threat was the provocation for the shooting. There is no evidence that the taser was ever out of the policeman’s possession. Local department records describe Slager as a great officer with proficiency in handling a taser. He was also named in at least three complaints against him by citizens over the last two years, which were not investigated at the time but the department now says it plans to look into.
This example is just the most recent of a string of similar events involving outrageous response tactics by trained police officers. Most of the officers have similar spotty records within their local departments and yet are on duty as if nothing were amiss until a severe incident calls their performance and ethics into question. Race has been cited as a possible factor because the victims of police brutality are almost exclusively black while the officers are white. Public outcry has been justifiably on the rise as a response to these events. It will be interesting to see how the cultural climate will progress regarding police and their use of force on the job.