There is a video on CNN today of a supposedly mentally ill man shot dead by police because he refused to drop a screwdriver. Yes, a screwdriver can be a weapon and some mentally ill can act erratically but the man did not seem to be acting aggressively or hostile to the police.
It’s been a long, long time since I shot anything and it was a .22 rifle at a shooting range. But I have to believe that the officers at the home in Dallas could have not shot the man, or at the very least shot him in the leg, removing most any threat he could could pose to them or his mother. Did the man drop the screwdriver when ordered by the police? No, but he was shot seconds after the order. The police have a tough job, but they do seem to like to shoot when they have a chance and they don’t seem to aim to disable but to kill. Why is this? I don’t know and my more cynical instincts tell me that they get off on control and killing people plays into that.
Could the police use more training in dealing with the mentally ill? Probably. Would they actually use the training and behave differently? I don’t know. But I do have a friend with an autistic child who has gone around teaching local police departments how to deal with autism. Maybe he could broaden his program to include other forms of mental illness.
There seems to be an epidemic of police shootings of unarmed people. Is this happening more now than before or are we just hearing more about it. A recent report in Maryland states that 109 people in the state were killed by police officers from 2010 to 2014, or whom 40% were unarmed and 70% where black.
What can we do about this? What should we do?