Greensboro, NC – The family of Chieu Di Thi Vo is challenging the Greensboro police department’s assertion that officer Tim Bloch’s fatal shooting of Vo was justified. For two years, the city refused to release bodycam footage of the shooting, but the shocking video has now been made public.
The entire video lasts less than a minute, and less than 10 seconds passes from the time Bloch made initial contact to the fifth and final shot. Vo died in the hospital two days later.
Vo, who was 47 and had bipolar disorder, was carrying a large knife and reportedly chasing her mother around the Aberdeen Townhomes complex. A witness had called 911 to report the incident.
The video shows Vo walking down the path in the vicinity of Bloch, but as family attorney Tin Nguyen points out, she was not lunging toward him or even going in his direction. She seemed unaware of Bloch’s presence,
“We saw she had a knife, but she wasn’t lunging,” said Nguyen. “She was a good distance away, maybe 10 feet, not even moving in his direction. She was following a path. He didn’t seem to register to her. She didn’t look up”
Officer Bloch can be heard yelling “Put it down!” and almost immediately begins firing. There is a person standing directly behind Vo—most likely her mother—who amazingly did not get hit by a stray bullet.
Even though Vo was carrying a knife, the swift use of deadly force is questionable. She was not coming directly at Bloch and no one else was in immediate danger. Bloch could have easily backed up to allow more time to defuse the situation. And why wasn’t a Taser deployed first?
Bloch believes he did everything right, saying, “Wow, this is black and white.’ I couldn’t have done anything better.” He was cleared of wrongdoing by the Guilford County District Attorney. In fact, other cops have said the video should be used for training.
Contrast this with the way police in the UK have dealt with knife-wielding suspects who were much stronger and more agile than Vo, or the Ohio cop who amazingly did not kill a disturbed man with a knife. But far too often, American cops have a reputation for resorting to deadly force, especially with the mentally ill.
“An encounter that short seems like injustice,” said Nguyen. “Greensboro has a policy on how to deal with the mentally ill that they did not follow.”
In video after video after video, we see police needlessly escalate situations to deadly force prior to attempting any heroic action, or even less lethal action, when confronted with people holding knives. Many times, officers fear for their lives over other non-threatening inanimate objects like screwdrivers, and ink pens, or even a spoon!
Mentally ill individuals have a 1,600% higher chance of being killed by police than anyone else, regardless of race. All too often, we see good people, who are in need of medical help - gunned down by officers because they 'fear for their lives' due to a complete lack of training in dealing with the mentally ill.
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Police are trained over and over again that they should be in constant fear of deadly assaults from all angles. They are essentially being trained to act as an occupying army, operating in America where the citizens are the enemy.
Instead of deadly force being a last resort, it's looked at as heroism in the line of duty.
The American people are constantly told how dangerous it is to be a cop. We are steadily reminded via politicians, television, and the mainstream media in general of just how brave those “boys in blue” are to work in such “dangerous” conditions. The thin blue line, we’re told, is akin to storming the beaches at Normandy.
But do these claims of mass danger and death hold water? Is it really necessary to smash an elderly woman’s face into the ground, or shoot a mentally ill woman for walking with a knife, so you can “make it home to your wife and kids”?
The truthful answer to that question is, no. The job of police officer isn't even within the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The reality is police officers in America resort to deadly violence so often simply because they can. They are trained to escalate to violence while the American people are trained to accept it. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Recent body cam footage from officers in the United Kingdom 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?