An institute that fights for civil and religious rights, property rights and privacy, says there’s an alarming new development in police interactions with members of the public: the citizens are being shot “for standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something – anything – that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind.”
It’s the Rutherford Institute’s latest “Constitutional Q&A” that recently addressed the latest “troubling use of excessive force.”
The Institute reported that in recent years, there have been shootings of Americans by police for “standing in a ‘shooting stance,’ holding a cell phone, behaving oddly and holding a baseball bat, opening the front door, running in an aggressive manner holding a tree branch, crawling around naked, hunching over in a defensive posture, wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey, driving while deaf, being homeless, brandishing a shoehorn, holding a garden hose, and peeing outdoors.”
“Most recently,” the report said, “in March 2018, Sacramento police fired 20 times at a 22-year-old African-American man in his grandparents’ backyard, mistaking his cellphone for a gun.”
In that case, Stephon Clark was hit seven times and died while officers still were deciding whether they would render emergency aid.
John W. Whitehead, the chief of the institute, said more and more excessive force, that which “is objectively unreasonable,” is being reported.
“With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, and all the government does is shrug and promise to do better,” he explained in the report.
“That police are choosing to fatally resolve encounters by using their guns on fellow citizens speaks volumes about what is wrong with policing in America today, where police officers are dressed in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon their fellow citizens as armed threats and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making.”
His research showed a study that said in 2012 alone, people visited hospital emergency rooms almost 140,000 times as a result of encounters with police.
“In the one-year period beginning June 2015, there was an average of 136 arrest-related deaths each month,” the institute said.