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Wearing a badge today, is it a license to kill?

By       Message Samuel Vargo       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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It seems as if becoming a police officer today gives someone a license to kill. And being homeless, even poor with a squalid or spartan shelter of some sort, or being a minority, or mentally ill, or perhaps even young, makes you a target of Johnny and Janie Law.

It's a police state these days in America - particularly inside the urban bowels of large cities where minority communities flourish - and no matter how cities and municipalities try to add a smiley face to the police - like creating community policing outfits and sponsoring 'Get to Know Your Cops' outings and picnics, or by police officers accompanying children to a department store around Christmastime to 'Shop with a Cop' - with all gifts bought paid for through an intense, outsourced, telemarketing campaigns - many Americans believe the police are their enemies.

Can you blame your family, friends and neighbors for holding such a prejudice? Can't you see that there is something very wrong with American law and order right now? One tragedy after another hits the mainstream media concerning what can be seen as senseless killings by the police, of what more often than not, are unarmed citizens.

I was sickened when I saw a video posted online on Monday, March 2, of a man outside of a homeless shelter in Los Angeles who was reportedly shot by three police officers on the afternoon of Sunday, March 1.

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Overall, five shots were fired by police at the man, who was on the ground. Even a police supervisor fired upon the victim. The homeless man, who was identified in the CNN report as "Africa" or "Brother Africa," suffered from some mental illness issues, the CNN report said. In the coming days, it's a given that this nickname will be replaced by this individual's legal name - his christened name, in other words - and if he has family and friends, they will surely be interviewed, as well....

Police said they tried to apprehend this individual, who was sitting outside a Los Angeles homeless shelter, because he was a suspect in a recent robbery. And police are validating shooting the guy because they blamed this homeless man for trying to grab a gun from one of the officers. There was even some talk of the victim having a gun and reaching for it, but an LAPD spokesman admitted this was an erroneous falsehood.

From flickr.com/photos/53326337@N00/5645621541/: Police brutality? Will it ever end or is it just the werewolves fangs behind the smiley face that American cities and municipalities are pasting over such terms as community policing?
Police brutality? Will it ever end or is it just the werewolves fangs behind the smiley face that American cities and municipalities are pasting over such terms as community policing?
(Image by quinn.anya)
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By watching the video and perusing the CNN offering, it's easy to see that the police handled this situation in a very unprofessional manner. Their job was to apprehend the suspect, handcuff him, and take him to a police precinct to be questioned about this alleged robbery. Instead, I see a bevy of officers who are bashing around this skinny guy like a ragdoll.

There are at least five police in this video, and they are big men, and their only one adversary - the underweight, skinny, homeless man - is losing the fight, big time. It's a clobber-fest, and the police have the upper hand.

Although the cops' targeted foe seems to be throwing punches around, he's just been electrocuted. Although I have never been tased, from all accounts I have read and seen from those who have, it's a very unpleasant experience. It wouldn't be hard to imagine someone who has just suffered from such a painful punishment to react with hostility, even violence. Instead, John Law seemed to use the tasing as a way to create a reaction so they could take the situation to a higher level - so they could shoot the poor sot, in other words....

I did not see any reason why tasing this guy was a necessity. The five cops who were hovering over the guy, laying on the sidewalk, should have easily been able to restrain him, roll him over, cuff the man, and shove him into a police cruiser.

But no, instead, all hell breaks loose after the tasers are used. A very small individual also appears in the video, a petite woman or maybe a child - it's hard to say in the grainy snippet - and this small person stealthily whisks away a nightstick that is laying on the sidewalk, right outside the scope of the ground fight. It seems as if whoever this person is just wants to make sure the cops don't clobber the supine victim with a bludgeoning instrument. No visual evidence can be seen where the outsider tries to use the nightsticks as a weapon against the cops. Two of the burly cops, however, discover this small person's entering into the outer fringes of their fight. They wrestle with this small outsider and two fights emerge. Meantime, the other three LAPD officers continue fighting with the shooting victim, who is laying on the sidewalk, wiggling around. Then the man is shot five times.

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The video opens with five police officers on top of the man, who is laying on the ground, his back to the sidewalk. These big cops should have had no problem in restraining the little fellow. In the CNN video, Commander Andrew Smith, LAPD spokesman, said tasing the man was "ineffective." I would like to know what Commander Smith feels is "effective" in such a situation - it seems that tasing this guy was the wrong thing to do in the first place - it only created a violent reaction, which escalated into the discharge of five bullets into the victim's body.

During the video, an officer cries out twice, "Drop the gun!" Even LAPD Commander Smith admitted to CNN, "I don't know what they found at the scene. Obviously, he didn't have a firearm." - And if no evidence is discovered that the murdered homeless man had a gun, this can be logged in as yet another police murder of an unarmed victim. It sounds very cut and dry, but how else can you categorize such a thing as you've just witnessed, if you watched the video attached to the CNN article?

LAPD Commander Smith said some of the officers were equipped with body cameras and the contents stored in them will be used to more fully understand what occurred. I don't know what can be accomplished by having a close-up view of this murderous ordeal. A body camera's view will probably only show a lot of motion. But if the shooting victim had a gun, as the police claim, maybe it can be seen through a body camera video. And of course, too, if the man was visibly attempting to reach for a gun attached to one of the officer's uniforms, perhaps this will be able to be seen in a close-up view, as well.

Being a cynical sort who is full of mistrust of authority, especially the authority being wielded more and more by an out-of-control police state on the march, I can only beg the question, "Was crying 'Drop the gun!' a cue to begin shooting the man? And the whole excuse of the homeless guy reaching for a gun, well it worked as an excuse for shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., so why not say it here, in L.A.?" I am sure many others are asking the same types of questions right now. All this banter seems to be nothing more than cover-up alibis to get these cops off the hook.

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)
 

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