Baltimore, MD — For the first time since the Baltimore Police Department was equipped with 600 body cameras, they have released a video. In the graphic footage, Baltimore police officers are seen shooting a mentally ill man who appeared to pose no threat to officers at the time.
On Wednesday, police officials released the video and 911 call which led to the shooting of the unnamed mentally ill man. Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis noted that he released the video because he’d rather deal with criticism over how the police handled the situation rather than the criticism the department would face had they not released it.
“With transparency comes responsibility and it’s our responsibility, we believe, to share it with our community,” Davis said. “We believe it is making us better as an agency. We believe it is improving police-community relations and accountability.”
Following a 9-1-1 call about a mentally ill man on the street beating his cane against a pole, multiple officers responded. Only moments passed before the man would be shot.
During the 9-1-1 call, the dispatcher specifically asked the caller if the man was threatening people with knives, to which the caller responded, “no,” and only noted that the man had knives.
When police arrived, however, it appears that they escalated the situation rather than attempt to de-escalate.
Screaming at a person with a mental illness is not only futile, it only serves to further confuse, frighten, and provoke said person — especially if that person is schizophrenic.
So, instead of calming down and talking with the man, the officers in the video just barked orders.
“Put down the knife!” yell the officers, which only seems to further frighten the man.
“Hey, I got one life to live and I’m ready to give. I did my job,” says the man as he’s quickly surrounded by people aiming guns at him.
“Within that first few seconds of that second video you do hear a Taser, at least I do. I know a Taser when I hear it, and you also hear gunfire in fairly close succession,” Baltimore Deputy Commissioner Jason Johnson said.
Police claim that the taser was ineffective, but it is not clear from the video if the taser even hit the man who police have only identified as a 48-year-old mentally ill man from Baltimore.
“This person had approached people and had gotten in their face is what I think the 911 caller says. The 911 caller was aware he had knives, and also a cane in his hand. The officers responded in a way that they just didn’t jump on the guy. They attempted to get him to put the weapons down,” Johnson said.
But the video shows, they didn’t really attempt to do anything other than escalate to deadly force. When the first officer fired his taser, the second officer began firing his pistol almost immediately. All this served to do was to further provoke the already confused and suicidal man.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s a mental health aspect to this,” Davis said.
To show just how unnecessary the use of deadly force was in this incident, the Baltimore police department hasn’t even charged the man with a crime.
The officers who fired shots are identified as Gary Brown and Supreme Jones. Both of the officers remain on administrative leave while an investigation is underway.
“We support Officers Jones and Brown and commend them on their actions as they did what was necessary to protect the lives of many others, as well as their own,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Gene Ryan said in a statement.
Do the officers in the video below deserve being commended for their actions? You be the judge.
If your answer to the above question is ‘yes’ after watching the video, perhaps you should consider the videos below.
Recent body cam footage from officers in the United Kingdom was released last year that shows how reluctant their police are to resort to deadly force. The stark contrast in violent escalation between UK cops and US cops highlights the dangerous overzealous nature of American police.
Northamptonshire resident, Lee Vickers proved to be an especially dangerous man last year after he grabbed a large butcher knife and charged after police. Had he been an American citizen, he would have been immediately killed. He presented a very real and deadly threat, and even non-police officers would have been justified in the use of deadly force against him.
However, two brave police officers disarmed him without harming a hair on his head. The level of restraint exhibited by the two officers in the video below sheds light on the sheer tragedy of so many senseless deaths at the hands of police in the US. Unarmed teenagers, men, and women are constantly being gunned down US cops who are trained to kill first and ask questions later.
How many mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters would still have their families if American police acted more like police in the UK?
For the naysayers who think that Vickers’ case is an isolated act of heroism, think again. The lack of deadly force is so common by police in European countries that it’s not only been documented multiple times, but it’s been caught on film multiple times.
It is high time this country looks closely at the way it trains its police force.
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