August 27, 2015

Alabama police admit officer's body camera was turned off before shooting man holding spoon

Mentally ill women and men account for as many 50 percent of the people killed by American police. Occasionally threatening and in desperate need of medical attention, instead of receiving an ambulance, they receive an officer with bullets instead of a doctor with medicine. Police are terrible doctors. This is pretty much why hospitals aren't full of people being shot to death.
In the long list of those who needed medical intervention, but met their death by police, we now add Jeffory Tevis. Having a full-fledged mental breakdown, Tevis, a 50-year-old white man with a history of mental illness, began cutting himself, but called police to state that he had been assaulted. After struggling with Tevis and using a Taser on him, the officer retreated 25 feet away from the man.
Tevis, with a serving spoon from his kitchen, began moving toward the officer, when he was fatally shot twice. The police have now admitted four damning details about the case.
1. They admit that Tevis was mentally ill. This had to have been a painfully obvious observation from the start, but should've triggered a different method of policing.
2. The police now admit that the officer shot and killed Tevis from at least 24 feet away.
3. The police now confirm that the only "weapon" Tevis held was a serving spoon.
Tuscaloosa police require all officers to have body cameras on “any time there’s going to be enforcement action taken”, Captain Brad Mason said. When asked whether the officer violated protocol by having his camera turned off, Mason declined to comment, citing the privacy of personnel matters.
Hood confirmed that Tevis had only the spoon in his possession and wasn’t armed with any additional weapons. Hood estimated that the spoon was “maybe 10-12 inches” in length.
This is a highly disturbing fact and calls into question every choice the officer made that day. Police should not even be allowed to turn their cameras off and on and doing so, particularly during a confrontation, should result in an immediate termination. Other departments have cameras that automatically turn on when police draw their weapons from their holsters. What we are seeing is that clear and public regulations on how body cameras are used are desperately needed.
Here's the thing: this encounter obviously could have been frightening for the officer, but doctors and nurses have these exact same encounters thousands of times per year in hospitals across the country without resorting to lethal force. If medical personnel can figure out how to not kill a man with a spoon, our officers should be able to do the same thing.

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