I was compelled to write this article because I was previously a Chicago Police Officer for 27 years before I retired in 1998. This recent rash of Black men being killed by police officers is truly devastating to me. I just can't imagine what could be on the officers' minds when they do stuff like that.
When we were trained we were told that domestic disturbances were the most dangerous calls and that we must learn to d-escalate situations like this. There are always gonna be cops that for some reason they automatically escalate situations no matter what they are. They just don't know how to handle people. We try to keep those guys under tight rein because we know they could get us as well as themselves hurt. But this new trend in just the blatant killing of Blacks seems as though the police (mostly white) can add another notch on their guns when they kill a Black person.
Let's start with Terence Crutcher; his car broke down and when the police came upon him he thought it was going to be to assist him. He did what we tell all our Black brothers, sons and relatives to do. He held his hands up and walked slowly and non-threateningly to his vehicle. You could hear the female police officer saying "He's not cooperating with me. He won't show me his hands." But we could see that he did have his hands way up in the air and that she had her weapon out and pointed at him. Not only that, we heard one of the officers in the helicopter mention that his hands were in the air. Then, this beats all - You could see at least two male police officers approaching Mr. Crutcher along with the female officer and a third male officer running up behind them who I believe tried to taser Mr. Crutcher. Now why do you want to taser Mr. Crutcher? What did he do? Put his hands up in the air? Was that his crime? And what about the three male officers present; were they punks? Four always outnumbers one! He didn't have a weapon so they couldn't have been afraid he was going to shoot them. Don't you think four police officers armed with tasers and handguns could control one Black man submitting by a show of "hands up?" Now I know the female officer said she was scared to death. Why? She didn't trust her comrades to protect her? They're the MEN. And neither of them had sense enough to tell the female officer to slow down and relax a bit. That's just unbelievable and unreal to me. If you are that scared with the assistance of three strong males with you, you really shouldn't have a gun in your hand. You really shouldn't be on the job.
Now let's talk about Charles Kinsey. He was the therapist that was trying to help the man with autism. He talked to the police telling them what was going on. He laid down on the sidewalk with his hands raised high in the air. He was talking to the guy with autism telling him to also lay down and put his hands in the air. He was trying to help him. All of a sudden the police shot the therapist. Why? When Charles asked the police why he shot him he said the police told him "I don't know." Now that's really strange. Charles survived but he could have died. What kind of mental state are these policemen in? And then, to top it all when the people see the evidence with their "lying eyes" they say that the shootings and killings are justified. How can that be? I bet if they were killing white folks like that it wouldn't be justified.
The first thing we, as police officers, were taught when responding to a situation like a domestic disturbance was to call for a back-up. This helps to create a "show of force." If you have enough officers on the scene why would you need guns out when the suspect has none? Doesn't make sense to me. Why do some officers respond 10-99 (alone) when they have a radio on their person and all they have to do is just call for an assist instead of trying prove that they are tough and later find out that they are threatened by a suspect and have to kill them in order to save face. That doesn't make sense either.
People have all kinds of reasons to want to become a police officer and not all the reasons are commendable. I think one of the best things to be done about this crazy situation is that the psychological tests be rewritten to uncover ulterior dominant tendencies and fear tendencies that can be detrimental to the citizens that they should be protecting.
Author Daraline C. Witherspoon
Retired Chicago Police Officer