It’s a day ending in “y”, which means police officers somewhere in the United States gunned down a man whose only crime was having a complexion darker than mine. But this time some high quality video has surfaced that leaves little doubt that the act was little more than a summary execution (obviously the video is graphic as it involves somebody being gunned down at point blank range):
The new video shows officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II on top of Alton Sterling, threatening him not to move. One of the officers is seen with his gun drawn and pointed directly at Sterling’s head, then the camera pans away when shots are fired. After the camera pans back to Sterling, he’s seen struggling to breathe with a massive gunshot wound in his chest. The officer is still pointing his gun at Sterling, while his partner grabs an unidentified object from Sterling’s pocket.
— R. Blanco (@illygirlBreA) July 6, 2016
The suspect, Alton Sterling, was lying on his back. One officer was on top of him, pinning his body down. The other office was pinning his left arm down with his legs. His other arm was stuck under the bumper of the car. From this position the officer pinning Sterling’s left arm apparently felt his life was in immediate danger because he drew his pistol and put it over Sterling’s chest. Shortly after drawing his pistol he fires into Sterling’s chest.
As expected, the neocon news sources have jumped into action and dug up as much dirt on Sterling as they could find in some strange attempt to justify the shooting. Of course none of what they present matters. Whether Sterling was a gang member, a felon, or even a pedophile is irrelevant in a self-use of force situation. What matters in a use of force situation is whether the threat at the time of the situation warranted the amount of force that was used.
The officer drew his gun, which a regular person like you or me could only legally do if we had a reasonable belief that we were in immediate danger of great bodily harm or death. I can’t see how the officer could reasonable believe that with the suspect immobilized on the ground. Even if Sterling was armed he wasn’t in a position where he could retrieve his weapon and use it. Those are the facts that matter in this case. Sterling’s past is entirely irrelevant. But some people hold a misguided belief that all police officers are heroes and will therefore go to any lengths and twist logic in any way to justify what would be unjustifiable if the perpetrator wasn’t wearing a badge.
Until society overcomes its hero worship of police officers and begins to focus solely on the facts the scourge of abusive officers will remain unaddressed. As long as the issue remains unaddressed innocent people will continue to die and the hands of almost entirely unaccountable officers.