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Police use of stun guns eyed in officer-involved killings in U.S.

43 Comments
By COREY WILLIAMS and JENNIFER PELTZ

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there are other incidents in which cops killed unarmed white but did not go on national news.

Not only shoot, but beat to death and suffocate as well, and those are two things that happen to people who don't resist and don't try to flee.

People easily get confused in the difference between "safe" and "relatively safer".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Let me get this straight... to counter a non-lethal weapon... use a lethal weapon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@MarkG

Your logic makes no sense! The White on White murder rate is equally as high! Most people are killed by people they know which will most likely being your own race. What's your point? it has no bearing on the topic. I do notice it is always the statement used to try to deflect the issue of racism towards Blacks in America.

I guess White live don't matter!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And the black on black murder rate is astronomical. I guess THOSE black lives don't matter.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

If you are white and you think you are safe from copp abusing, be careful and stay away from cops. Media seem to report on white cop shooting unarmed black but there are other incidents in which cops killed unarmed white but did not go on national news.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Mostly correct SuperLib. I personally don't feel threatened in any way by police officers other than the tax collecting roll they perform. (I know, what the heck is that)

Police DO NOT know the person/s they stop or what may unfold and they on occasion have fear. Not the most rational decision making attribute by the way. More and more thugs carry guns without usage boundaries. I prefer the police to go home to their family as opposed to a thug going home at night. NO, not advocating executions, just taking the right side if one were to prevail.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think of it more as a police brutality issue that affects blacks more than whites, not necessarily a racial issue, although sometimes I'm sure that plays a part.

There's obviously an element of danger to an officer's job but we can't keep throwing all of the protections on them while eroding our own rights. At some point they have to accept some risk as part of their job. Some of the videos we are seeing show a police force that acts with impunity and that has to change. Anyone can be stopped for the most frivolous reason, then be subject to search/detainment for fuzzy things like, "He was acting suspiciously" or the famous "I smelled weed coming from the car." From there it turns into the cops word vs. your word and the deck is stacked in their favor, then you have the ones who do things like move evidence around.

I want cops to be protected, but I also want to know that I stand a fighting chance if I'm on my own. Right now I don't feel like I do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Jeez, reading the comments here suggests U.S. law enforcement is racist, and out to extinguish the black man.

May I suggest this, do not read the headlines. Somehow I do not see the brutal racism...and I live here!

@Smith, ever been to the a low income neighborhood in the U.S.? Nuff said! I mention nothing of race you seem to inject it. And look at the statistics please. The police racial fatal incidents have declined steadily. Just the headlines have increased. That's called manipulation in case you didn't know.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

His family said officers also used stun guns at least twice with no effect.

So what are the police supposed to do when the stun guns don't work? Just allow the perp to get away?

I think that the cop in the case in SC is wrong in this case, there is no excuse, but that doesn't mean that the cops should be disarmed. I think in this case another serious issue that is not getting the proper attention is why the man (Scott) ran in the SC case.

He was no seasoned criminal, he was weary about going back to jail due to being late with child support payments. He had previously held a job that was paying $35,000 (good for that state), and lost it when he was jailed for back child support. His family even said that he would often take the long way home while driving, since he didn't want the chance to be stopped by the police for any traffic stops. He was aware of the broken brake light and was attempting to get it fixed until this even happened.

At his funeral, one of the SC Congressmen (a Dem) made the comment that we need to look at this whole child support system. How can a man expect to pay child support, if he is in jail? I know from my own personal story my brother is divorced, and was laid off and still had child support due. He had to pay it out of his unemployment, and yet the ex wife and the court thought they had the right to take him to court. When ordered to go to court in Chicago, he had to fly from one part of the country to another during a snow storm, only to have his ex-wofe's lawyer not show up, and the normally unreasonable judge finally saw that maybe my brother was doing what he was supposed to do and not being a deadbeat.

There are so many cases in the US on how men are getting screwed when they slip up with child support. I am not talking about the types that you see on shows like "Maury Povitch" and the "you are the baby's father" but men who are trying to pay child support, and due to circumstances beyond their control may have a few problems paying and are subject to this type of treatment.

That is the real story here besides the blatant killing of this man. He was not afraid of the cops or a criminal, but of the system that was stacked against him, and it was just his bad misfortune that he came face to face with the wrong type of law enforcement officer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rise of the Warrior Cop is a good book to read for anyone who wants to understand in more detail the militarization of police in America, the evolution of SWAT teams from being used in very special, specific situations to use in routine police work, the history of no-knock entries, the gradual weakening of American citizen's rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and protection via the castle doctrine, and finally the supplying of numerous small, low-crime municipalities nation-wide with armored personnel carriers, automatic weapons, grenade launchers, tanks, etc...by the federal government.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

MarkG: "Other nations do not have war zone sub cultures like we do here in the USA."

Which, if you actually believe it exists, you have created, and YOU yourself, Mark, help reinforce with your attitude. It's a lot like the moronic, "We need guns in the US because we have a violent history" crap that attempts to justify the stupid gun culture in the US.

Like it or not, Mark, the police are a huge part of the problem in the US, and it's only getting worse. No WONDER they want to ban the use of patrol car and body cams given the rampant abuse of unarmed black people by white officers! Imagine if the increasing number of incidents of white's gunning down blacks had not been caught on camera! You'd be claiming -- and in fact STILL are despite the evidence! -- that the officers did no wrong!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

In McVeigh's case, just killed 168 people. But it was a traffic stop that caught him. Why would any fool run for an outstanding parking ticket? The point is, is that there is no routine traffic stop anymore. Several cops are killed every year with what begins as a routine traffic stop.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

but you have no idea what somebody may have just done when they take off running.

Precisely. They could very well be running because of outstanding parking tickets, driving on their third strike with an open container, or, dare I say it, fear of being jailed for a fourth time because of delinquent child support payments.

Police need to understand that not every situation demands an armed response.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was also stopped for a broken taillight. Not defending the cops actions but you have no idea what somebody may have just done when they take off running.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I won't say all but most cops are bullies and pussies in disguise. They play the tough guy and always try to intimidate people because of their uniform and badge so they can feel important and respected. something deep down in their psyche is wrong so they resort to attacking would be criminals with stun guns followed by the discharge of not one bullet but by emptying the whole magazine into a usually unarmed black man. I don't know what crap they are teaching cops in today's training programs but the USA needs to get rid of local and regional enforcement systems and instigate a national police force like the US military where every law enforcement officer from Maine to San Diego has the same uniform, same weapons, same training and most importantly the same psychological testing done by an independent company to determine whether a newbie or an existing cop is allowed to carry a firearm. In the USA there are hundreds if not thousands of independent law enforcement entities that have little intra and external coordination or internal enforcement or monitoring and that is itself is really stupid but hey the average US couch potato cares more about what is on TV at 8 pm and what beer they drink than the people that walk around with live weapons threatening their own lives. Long live reality TV. Have you seen all the reality (I don't think so ) cop shows that supposedly are showing live criminal actions and law enforcement response. Sure that is real live or is it staged, go figure.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

There are cities and towns where sincere efforts are being made to promote better community policing, i.e., bridging the gap of mistrust that exits between many members of society and the police officers who are ostensibly there to serve and protect them, and build better community relations from a grass-roots level. I'm sad to say, however, that the number of police departments that still cling almost religiously to the doctrine of "might makes right" are far more prevalent. The LAPD is but one example at the large end of the spectrum. The Ferguson, Missouri police department is but another at the smaller end of the scale.

It’s stunning to see how clearly out of whack average U.S. police perception of their place and function in society is when compared to a number of other modern societies that successfully function without arming their police to the teeth. Certainly, there are a lot of factors at play that contribute to the inexorable militarization of our police forces -- willful perversion and abuse of the 2nd Amendment being one of them, leading to an insane proliferation of firearms in America. But what is most disturbing is that this increasing militarization seems to go hand-in-hand with a quite palpable Police-Versus-The Rest of Society mentality that all but guarantees needless deaths like Walter Scott’s will continue.

Yes, it’s a comic book quote, but it is no less an applicable question for the current situation: Who watches the Watchmen? Police forces across the U.S. desperately need to be reigned in and retrained, if not re-staffed wholesale in order to purge this cancer of “shoot first, make excuses later” that dominates police interactions with civilians.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The police are out of control.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Imagine how bad it has really been with racist white cops operating with gay abandon,doingmurders and often getting away scot-free.Thankfully smartphones are helping bring to some kind of recognition, how for hundreds of years the Wild West is still very much alive in today's world.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If officer Slager would have shot Scott while Scott actively struggled for the officer's gun, the shooting could fly. Instead of de-escalating, as Scott fled, he shot & murdered him.

As for jogging at night. . . There are 24 hr state-of-the-art fitness facilities pretty much everywhere.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well, I'm white, and I would never go jogging at night in the US in fear that I will get mugged and/or killed by a non-police officer.

The purpose of the police is too prevent you from getting mugged, not to be mugged by the police.

a 73-year-old reserve sheriff’s deputy who said he thought he was firing his stun gun instead fatally shot another black man

What a stupid program, to let grandpa's pretend to be a police officer because they donates to the police department. One dead man cause these pretend police want to be in on the action. At least in this case the killer was sorry he shot the perp as opposed to the case in South Carolina where the real cop was bragging about it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yet because he is black, he felt that he needed to do this research before going out jogging at night, to ensure that he didn't get harassed/tazered/shot for being in the wrong place as the wrong color.

Well, I'm white, and I would never go jogging at night in the US in fear that I will get mugged and/or killed by a non-police officer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh, I'm not white stranger.....can't wait until we stop playing the race card. I am human, just like yourself.

And once again, pretending race doesn't exist, doesn't make it go away.

This wouldn't happen when I was 20! Maybe I would have had my arse kicked but I would not allow this! Yet dozens do! I've had my share of punches from strays when I was young keeping a fair fight fair. I did not permit 2 on 1 and other unfair fights. Nobody beat me down, I gained respect, and I left the anamocity when I made my way!

What does this have to do with the topic at hand?

As for you friend, just as many people are paranoid of almost anything these days he was also. It is unusual to jog in the early AM if that was his preferred time, I would expect an interfered excersise if I were him. To fear being tazered or shot, no. Just stopped and questioned.

You're missing the point. If you're white, you don't need to fear being tazered or shot. Him, being black, felt he at least needed to research the point.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Oh, I'm not white stranger.....can't wait until we stop playing the race card. I am human, just like yourself. I have self respect and give respect unlike the sub culture youth.

http://video.nydailynews.com/College-Students-Accused-Of-Raping-Woman-At-Spring-Break-Beach-Party-In-Florida-28881820?vcid=28881820&freewheel=90051&sitesection=nydailynews

This wouldn't happen when I was 20! Maybe I would have had my arse kicked but I would not allow this! Yet dozens do! I've had my share of punches from strays when I was young keeping a fair fight fair. I did not permit 2 on 1 and other unfair fights. Nobody beat me down, I gained respect, and I left the anamocity when I made my way!

As for you friend, just as many people are paranoid of almost anything these days he was also. It is unusual to jog in the early AM if that was his preferred time, I would expect an interfered excersise if I were him. To fear being tazered or shot, no. Just stopped and questioned. Unless you give attitude.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Have you ever been into severely depressed neighborhoods? Spent any time there? It's a different world. As for race, you introduced that. Seems you are profiling. I simply stated the conditions. Plenty rise above their upbringing. Not enough is my point. You can't deny it.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

We have a culture of mainly good, fair law abiding citizens. We don't fear police.

You must be white.

I have a friend here in Japan, a black American. He went to the US last month for a business trip, but to the other side of the country from his hometown. Before he went, he spent some time researching police shootings in that area, and basically any information he could get on the police there - why? Because he likes to go jogging at night, and was trying to figure out how dangerous the police are in that area.

He has a master's degree, and is a law abiding citizen. Yet because he is black, he felt that he needed to do this research before going out jogging at night, to ensure that he didn't get harassed/tazered/shot for being in the wrong place as the wrong color.

It's easy to say that if you are law abiding there is nothing to fear from the police - if you are white. It's not so easy when your skin is of a darker shade.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Well which Utopia do you live in CS ( retired)? The people I know and my world we all make mistakes. It how we handle the following is what makes the differences in life.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Some of those good, fair law abiding citizens have come to grief simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or standing up for a cause they believe in. Some have made bad decisions in a moment of weakness and ended up paying for it with their lives. People in a just society should never have to fear for their freedom or safety. Never.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

We have a culture of mainly good, fair law abiding citizens. We don't fear police. The sub culture here in USA are live a third world desperate lifestyle. No rules, no bounds. Yes, they fear their freedom and safety, as they should. Character goes a long way in respect.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

We need to readjust the balance. I think we've gone too far on the side of protecting cops, and as a result we have situations where the cops can get away with just about anything if it's their word vs. a criminal/corpse. I support the use of body cameras to catch the bad cops, reward the good ones, and to protect both sides from frivolous claims.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Some basic psychology: Fight or flight. You intimidate, scare, or subject people to pain like with a tazer, some will fight, some will try to run, and only some will lay there and take it like a deer in the headlights. This applies to the innocent as well as the guilty.

Also, many men revel in displays of power and those men gravitate toward the role of being a cop. Some know perfectly well about the above psychology and pray you will give them an excuse, or hedge you into doing so. Some are not so clever and just fall into it to their great amusement.

Overall, America has far too many police to keep out those who are not sadists or have an insufficient IQ for the job.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have a lot of sympathy for the situation cops find themselves in (not all the time, but often): One must assume that a suspect is heavily armed and act accordingly. This is thanks to the NRA and the spineless politicians, mostly within the GOP, that grovel to them. Stun guns or no, the situation will likely not improve until cops can have a reasonable assurance that the suspect is not packing a semi.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Don't now what this guy's story was but it occurs to me there's more incentive to run considering the prisons, and how easy it is becoming these days to find yourself in one, and hard to get out.

Google "for profit prisons". It's scary.

Anyway, it was a traffic stop. Was anybody under in danger? No? Then shooting was not required.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Yeah, I'm kind of concerned about that "obey or else!" mindset expressed above. That's strictly for totalitarians. As a citizen of a democracy, you have certain rights. The police can't just order you about and you have to do everything they say or risk being tased or shot to death. Put criminals out of the equation for just a moment.

Law-abiding people who have done nothing wrong have been pepper sprayed, tased, stunned or beaten by police simply when exercising rights they have. This is due to inadequate police training or angry indifference or cold-blooded cynicism on the part of the cops. Some simply do not care, but see the streets as an us versus them contest or war zone. This mindset has been instilled in them further by recent events and the militarization of their jobs. But even so, we have rule of law, not rule of might. This is our expectation as we are not living under tyranny. It is not subject to negotiation, though it may be to violation and frequently is.

The law and human rights supersede street justice. And so does due process. Police are not out there to be judge, juries and executioners. That's fun in Judge Dredd comics but hardly a workable system for a just and civil society. We have courts of law and presumption of innocence under the idea we're not living in a police state. If there is a problem it is with the cops overreaching their authority.

If the best case scenario is a beating and the worst is summary execution it's time to re-examine law and order or at the very least the training we give police officers. Ordinary civilians don't always know their rights when dealing with police. Sometimes police are called on to handle citizens who CAN'T know these rights due to mental illness or development problems (and in some cases these encounters have also ended tragically with a person who has violated no laws other than showing an inability to obey police commands being shot to death). Therefore it's even more important the police-- who are supposed to be highly trained professionals-- know what these rights are and do not violate them. This also protects the police themselves. When it works, it is the best system in the world. Everyone benefits. When it doesn't, we get spectacular news stories and videos that further damage trust in the system. It will become harder for police to expect compliance when all they have to offer is violence and death.

And don't forget-- obedience is no guarantee of safety, either. People have also been shot to death while actively complying with police commands.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

@MarkG "Qiute simple, obey law-no problem!"

...or you will be killed immediately by cops. Do you realize that mentioned rule is quite normal for dictatorships only ?

9 ( +12 / -3 )

People run because they don't want to be caught.

Sometimes. And other times they run because they don't want to be beat/executed. This is a bed the U.S. police have made for themselves.

Other nations do not have war zone sub cultures like we do here in the USA

And some of the responsibility for that culture is the responsibility of the police.

They do not go out to target anyone or hurt anyone

If you don't think that some police are on a power trip, and take every opportunity they can to be sadistic on 'perps', you are showing a complete lack of understanding of reality.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

When a big stink hits, the top brass look for scapegoats at a lower level. Line officers are what you might expect: aggressive, sharp, squared away people for the most part, but vulnerable. When some poor slob who never should have been a cop in the first place starts to lose it, the paternal three-striper steps in and educates him.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bollocks Stranger! People run because they don't want to be caught. Doesn't always work and does escalate the situation. Other nations do not have war zone sub cultures like we do here in the USA. Not an equitable comparison.

Police have a job to do. They do not go out to target anyone or hurt anyone. They do want to do their job and they do want to go home to their families. They have fear as we all do react accordingly.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Police brutality will exist as long as resisting arrest exists. Quite simple, obey law-no problem! Defy law-consequences.

And yet most other countries get by without nearly the same levels of police brutality as seen in the US. You also have to wonder how many people try to run out of a fear of the brutality of the police - creating a continuing escalation of incidents. The police are more brutal, so more people run, so the police are more brutal to those who run, creating more who want to run from police brutality.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Police brutality will exist as long as resisting arrest exists. Quite simple, obey law-no problem! Defy law-consequences.

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

With all the police brutality recently you got to wonder, who are they to "protect and serve" again?

Themselves.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

With all the police brutality recently you got to wonder, who are they to "protect and serve" again?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

American police have become heavily militarized. "De-escalation" is NOT part of their mindset these days. Threat, intimidation, force and ultimate deadly force are standard operating procedure now. I and people I know have had experiences all out of proportion to the circumstances. Mine was also a case of mistaken identity. If was pretty damn scary.

There are still many professionals, but they are leaving, retiring or just waiting to do either so they are becoming far and few between.

As for this article, the attempt seems to deflect the real blame: far too many police need serious psychological evaluation and far better training or the taxpayers are going to keep paying for civil rights violations and people are will continue to be street executed like some third world dictatorship.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just two days before Scott’s April 4 death, a 73-year-old reserve sheriff’s deputy who said he thought he was firing his stun gun instead fatally shot another black man, 44-year-old Eric Harris, after a chase in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A video of that killing, released Friday, is raising new concerns about how Tasers can have deadly consequences.

Um, no, that's how guns have deadly consequences.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

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