Police Killings: The Bar Of Justification For Extrajudicial Killings Is High


Criminal suspect Rony Jean dressed in police uniform driving around in stolen vehicle cornered after committing crime.
Criminal suspect Rony Jean dressed in police uniform driving around in stolen vehicle cornered after committing crime.
By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press

Unfortunately, police officers encounter lawbreakers on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some resist arrest. Some flee. These are simply occupational conditions of being an officer — an admittedly tough job that few of us would sign up to do. But none of those offenses grant a license to gun a man down.

A life is the most precious, most valuable thing in creation. It cannot be casually ended. It cannot be callously taken. It must always be honored and protected, and the person living it needn’t be perfect; he or she is human.

The bar of justification for extrajudicial killings is high, and necessarily so, even among suspects accused of crimes. How much more problematic could killings be of people who don’t live to get a trial?

It is tragic to somehow try to falsely equate what appear to be bad decisions made by criminals and those made by the officers who killed them. There is no moral equivalency between running and killing, and anyone who argues this obdurate absurdity reveals a deficiency in their own humanity. Death is not the appropriate punishment for disobedience. Being entrusted with power does not shield imprudent use of power.

If you are approached by a police officer, the prudent thing to do would be to comply with their request. You should not run, or otherwise seek to make good your escape, but no one should be killed for running.
Yes, being a police officer is no picnic. It legitimately makes one ask why would anyone want to become a police officer.

How can we address concerns about ‘use of force,’ how can we address concerns about officer-involved shootings if we do not have the circumstances of those incidents? We simply must improve the way we collect and analyze data to see the true nature of what’s happening in all of our communities.

There will be investigations and Coroner’s Court hearings for all of these cases. Evidence will be examined and presented. It is proper to wait for that. But any exculpatory evidence must justify this use of force, not simply seek to excuse it. That will most likely be a high bar.

We must wait and see. But it is important to remember that waiting is a luxury of time afforded to the living. Time has ceased for those killed.


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