Monday, April 13, 2015

Oklahoma Police Shooting Captured on Body Camera

The horrors of police brutality are all too often making headlines nowadays. Ever since the implemented use of body cameras, more and more instances of "authority gone too far" are reaching the public. Yet another shooting of an African American male by a white officer has taken place. 

Eric Courtney Harris, suspected of drug and gun trafficking, was pursued and tackled by deputy Bob Bates. Harris was unarmed as he actively attempted to escape despite Bates holding him back. During the following brawl, the video captures gunshots, and the phrase "Oh! I shot him! I'm sorry." Harris was handcuffed, and taken to a hospital, where he died. No charges have been filed against Bates yet, although an investigation is taking place, as well as an assessment by the FBI. 

What angers me is that these stories are uncommon. And these awful things most likely have been happening for a long time - just tucked away from the public eye, only for victims to witness. Even though out of 1.1 million officers in America, a fraction abuse their power, police brutality is a problem that needs to be addressed. It is my firm belief that murder is never justified - even if an authority figure is the killer. Although policemen have a duty to protect citizens and prevent crime, there is a line that cannot be stepped over, no matter what. 

Are policemen justified in using such force against criminals in these cases, as it effectively works when suspects won't cooperate? Or has police force gone too far, and should be dealt with in order to prevent further deaths?


Catherine van Blommestein said...

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy over police brutality and racial profiling. This case adds a new element: the question as to whether volunteer deputies are trained well enough to be put in a position of handling a fire arm. Bates, a wealthy businessman, used his idea of community service to volunteer as a police officer. As admirable as this may be, giving a 73 year old a badge along with a weapon and without proper training was only an accident waiting to happen. While it is great that he is donating to the police force, his donations should be used to hire other qualified and trained police officers rather than putting him in the field. That being said, anyone running from the police should know that there is always a possibility of deadly force being used against them. Harris should not have tried to flee. Not only did he put himself in danger, but the public as well.

Franziska Shelton said...

I don't believe that policemen are justified in using this much force against criminals. In Bates' case, the actual shooting seemed more like an accident to me, however, the treatment of the victim afterwards is unacceptable. The police are not supposed to have the power to decide for themselves what a suspect deserves, and their treatment should in no way reflect their beliefs. They should carry out the job of keeping the public safe, but leave the justice part for those who were given that power. I would hope that people agree that the recent police brutality is intolerable, but the larger question is what to do about it. Obviously, someone who could mistake their gun for a taser should not be allowed in such a position of power, but this seemed accidental. Both events like the one here and the ones with malicious intents should be addressed, as they are both issues that have and will continue to put lives in danger.