The Shooting of Justine Damond
The killing of Justine Damond, the yoga teacher and spiritual healer who called 911 to report a possible assault, is still under investigation with little information being released at this time. This unarmed woman in her pajamas calling for help is the personification of complete innocence. Yet she was shot by the police. This type of unprovoked killing by police has been reoccurring for decades.
In 1999, three NYPD officers fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo. Diallo was unarmed, only holding a wallet in his hands when he was killed. The officers were all acquitted and one was later promoted to sergeant. In Alabama in March of 2014, an officer responded to a car accident. Upon arrival the motorist, Airman First Class Michael Davidson, exited his vehicle with his wallet in his hands and was immediately shot by the police officer. The dash cam video is irrefutable, yet the courts cleared the officer of any wrongdoing. These are just two examples of many such shooting incidents and these types of unarmed and unprovoked shootings will continue.
From the police perspective, there is no reason to examine and re-evaluate the shooting of civilians because the established legal protocol is based solely on the police officer’s perception at the time of the event. If the officer can demonstrate that he/she feared for their life, no matter how flimsy the stance is, the killing is justified. This is what the police always fall back on. It has become a flawless fail safe for law enforcement. If this excuse works then there is no incentive to examine the actual failure of the false perceptions of these officers who respond to fear by using deadly force. There is no incentive to establish actual effective training to combat the fearful knee-jerk responses to benign common occurrences.
I have always been puzzled about the fact that the US military regularly institutes an after-action investigation on combat actions where casualties occur in order to remedy procedures and save lives, but in law enforcement this rarely occurs. There are enough needless shooting incidents that occur in law enforcement to justify conducting authentic research and producing an after-action report to address this issue. But law enforcement’s MO is always to defend the officer’s actions through the well-established legal protocol of the officer’s fear of life perception.
It remains to be seen whether or not this will be the case with the shooting of Justine Damond or not.
Please comment with your thoughts, look around my website for more information, or check out my book to learn more about my experience as a police officer and how that experience may help provide an explanation for why things like the shooting of Justine Damond happened.