Friday, January 9, 2009

Tasers & Law Enforcement

I come, as some of you know, from a place of not-privledge. A place where cops were sometimes called out to handle "domestic disturbances" nearby. Family & friends were involved in these events. This means that one could suspect that all of the people I know would have a bad attitude about police. If you come into contact, on the wrong side of the law too often, you can feel a little oppressed.

But it's not true, though. My family was always respectful of the crazyhard job, the danger, that good cops face every day. And the fact that sometimes they are hurt the most when you would think people would be grateful for the help. I've known many good, good cops. And my husband has always been more of the cop type than the bad boy type.

I say all of the above because I'm collecting my thoughts on several recent incidents. The New Year's death of a young man in Oakland as the cop fired, point blank, into his lung as he lay, facedown, on the ground (some say the cop thought he held his taser as though that explains what happened). I say, SO What if he did? Why was he tasing a man that was cooperating? I've seen the grainy cell phone video... it doesn't look right to me. Then there's the young man in New Orleans who was killed, also on New Year's eve. He was sitting in someone's car. If it was a drug bust, possibly, but the sheer volume of bullets fired into a running man's BACK just seems amazingly wrong.

I don't think Tasers should be allowed to be routinely used especially on people who are not fighting, who are subdued already. If the first incident was indeed an accident, the overuse of tasers caused the death of a young man who, according to witnesses, was pleading with his friends for cooperation. The second incident just sounds like execution, period. Even if the guy was a drug buyer, he didn't deserve to be shot in the back like that.

I know that the police have to sometimes act on sparse information. They have to protect themselves from those who would do them harm. But both of these cases seem sooooo wrong. I know I don't know everything, but what I feel about the violence now erupting in Oakland and the outrage that people feel towards the policeman who killed two fathers of two young children, who took lives on the New Year, with what looks to me like very little justification.

Well. I feel heartbroken. And angry. And I feel like something needs to happen to stop these kinds of "accidents". I just don't know what.