So why are people afraid of the people they pay to protect them? Reports of police officers overstepping not only their bounds but also rising above the law are on the rise. Worse yet, even in cases when the use of deadly force was obviously not needed, or used upon innocent people, there tends to be no punishment. In fact, it is a common phrase that shooting an innocent person gets an officer a "paid vacation." Police have a dangerous job, and should by all rights be able to protect themselves should they be required to do so. But as Bill Maher once poignantly stated, you can be both an advocate of the police, and hold them to a higher standard.
Citizens of the United States have rights. We should be able to ask an officer for his identification. No one should be shot because an officer is scared of his own shadow or poorly trained. It's time to hold officers to a higher standard, and stop letting a code of silence and DA protection allow police to kill anyone, especially people who could be detained another way.
This list was hard to write. It's always hard to watch people die, and it's a question of police procedure. It contains shocking material. It is not for the faint of heart and is definitely not safe for work (NSFW).
15 Kelly Thomas
Kelly Thomas was a homeless man suffering from schizophrenia. On the night of July 5, 2011, Kelly was beaten by six police officers during which you can hear Thomas crying out, "Dad!", "Daddy, they're killing me!", "I'm sorry!" and "Help me, please! I can't breathe!" The officers continued to beat him into a coma. He was taken to a hospital afterward and never regained consciousness.
The full video is available on Youtube and contains material that will make your blood boil. Medical records show that bones in his face were broken and he choked on his own blood. The coroner concluded that compression of the thorax made it impossible for Thomas to breathe. He was taken off life support five days later. The DA did not pursue the case. All officers were found not guilty, and all charges were dropped.
What about "I smashed his face to hell" isn't excessive?
14 Alton Sterling
Another shooting that was recorded by several bystanders as it occurred. On July 5, 2016, police responded to a call from an anonymous caller that said that Alton Sterling was issuing threats. The officers claimed that he was brandishing a firearm, but none of the videos taken show this. He was pinned on the ground by two officers when the officer drew a gun and fired at the prone man. Protesters called it an execution.
The stories of the caller and police do not match the story of the clerk who was working at the convenience store, who said that Sterling was there often selling CDs, and was not causing any trouble. Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back. Alton Sterling was a father of five. The officers were placed on mandatory paid leave.
13 Philando Castile
"Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that."
Diamond Reynolds was in the driver's seat, streaming video of a stop that turned fatal for her boyfriend, Philando Castile. Pulled over for a broken tail light, Philando is reported to have informed the officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is now on paid leave, that he was a licensed firearm owner. The officer demanded him to issue his license, and shot him when he reached for his identification. Diamond's child was in the back seat when the shots were fired. Philando died at the scene. The case is expected to be an uphill battle for prosecutors of the officer, and it is expected that the officer will be found not guilty of all charges of manslaughter.
12 Keith Lamont Scott
Yet another shooting recorded with a cell phone. This one was recorded by his wife who was present during the entire ordeal. Officers arrived on scene due to an unrelated matter involving the warrant of a completely different person. You can hear police yell that he had a firearm, but his wife disputes this, calling to the police during the altercation that he was completely unarmed.
In the second video, Scott appears to be following orders of the police to exit his car and walk backwards which are normal orders given by officers during these situations. The stories of both sides are hotly contested, but the fact remains that they had no reason to confront him at all. They weren't there for him. He was walking peacefully backward when he was shot. Officers involved are on paid administrative leave.
11 Brian Beaird
This one was actually on live television! Another incident of a man who suffered mental illness being treated as a criminal. A high-speed pursuit in a sports car ended in a crash. When the obviously unarmed Brian Beaird staggered from his car in an obvious attempt to flee, he was gunned down.
The officers involved in the shooting were given mandatory paid leave following the incident, and the department agreed to settle outside of trial for millions of dollars paid to the family. While there are disputes about the vote to award a settlement, it is noted that the LAPD chief stated that "This is a case that clearly had significant potential liability far beyond what the settlement offer was. It was a good business decision when you have a loss of life and you have evidence that could be viewed as overwhelming against the city of L.A."
10 Autumn Steele
Officer Jesse Hill tried to shoot a dog and missed.
The officer showed up to a report of domestic violence. When the officer arrived, there was an altercation. When the family dog charged him, the officer attempted to shoot the dog but instead, he missed and struck the abdomen of 34-year-old Autumn Steele. She eventually died from her wound. Testimony on this case confuses the issue as it often does because an eyewitness says that the dog never bit the officer, even though he claims to have suffered an injury due to the dog biting him.
It would appear that testimony will not need to be called into court because the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations says that they will not prosecute Hill under manslaughter charges.
When it comes to dogs, police officers are just as lethal. Duchess represents an increasing number of family pets shot and killed by officers who supposedly feared for their lives. The video shows something a little different.
The Florida officer, Marcus Terry, showed up, citing that he was going to tell the residents that their car's passenger door had been left open. When the door was opened, Duchess does what dogs do when they meet new people. He took the opportunity to meet a new person and ran toward him, tail wagging happily. Apparently the officer was scared, because he fired not one but three shots into the dog's head.
Duchess died while being held by her owner. Once again, the officer received paid vacation-- administrative leave after the incident.
8 Jessica Hernandez
Video, evidence and testimony once again conflicts with police reports. The officer claims that the teen was speeding toward the officer, became trapped between the car and a fence, and had to shoot the girl in order to save his own life. The police say that officers shot after the danger was posed. Video and testimony say something different. Passengers in the car say that she was shot before the vehicle accelerated and that the driver losing consciousness was what caused the vehicle to accelerate and pin the officer.
Police officers involved in the incident have been cleared by the DA, and have been found to have acted in accordance with their own laws and codes of conduct in the murder of the 17-year-old LGBT teen.
7 Deven Guilford
A stop was made after 17-year-old Deven Guilford flashed his brights at a police officer that Deven claimed had his own brights on. The video shows that Deven insisted that he couldn't see due to the officer's lights, but right from the beginning, you can sense the impending danger posed to the teen as the officer became agitated at being told he was wrong.
It seems like when this officer was questioned, asked for his own identification, badge number or anything else that would tell Deven that the man was indeed a police officer, the officer denied giving any information to the teen. Providing proper identification is mandatory for police. The cop also tells him that refusing to give his own ID is a misdemeanor. Similar to when someone is charged for resisting with no other charges. Make sense?
Shot and killed for questioning an officer.
6 Abdul Kamal
This one is strange, because most of the information here, except for the fact that police officers were involved, has been deleted or taken offline. The only public evidence is a single 911 call made by Abdul Kamal allegedly before the incident.
The story goes that the man was armed and threatening police but once again, the testimony clashes with the reports, saying that the man was unarmed and peaceful. If the man was indeed armed with a firearm, then why would they pepper spray him before shooting him?
Protests rose, and family of the man still demand that the District Attorney look into the case and investigate further. No officers were charged for the incident after being given paid administrative leave, as is common procedure when an officer discharges their weapon.
5 Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
At approximately 5:00 am on November 19, 2011, police officers showed up at Kenneth Chamberlain's door.
They claimed that his Life Alert bracelet had alerted them to an emergency and that they wanted to make sure he was okay. Kenneth assured them that he did not call them, was not having a medical emergency and asked them to leave.
Instead of doing what was asked of them and leaving, police demanded entry into the home and refused to leave until they were allowed inside. Kenneth called the Life Alert hotline and told them that he was sure that police wanted to come inside to kill him. He told them that police outside his door had used the word "n***er" and swore at him. The police broke down his door and claimed he attacked them. Family testified that he was unarmed. Autopsy reports say his Kenneth's arms were at his sides.
4 Tommy McClain
"He's got a gun!"
This mantra seems to be used any time police officers fire upon a citizen. It is a catch-all term that is used any time a firearm is discharged and, like magic, it works every time.
Tommy McClain, who witnesses describe as "mellow" and "kind" was ambushed by police officers. A witness inside the home did not know why there were police in their backyard and when she rushed outside to find out, the police were shining lights in her eyes.
Police say that they were looking for two men with outstanding warrants when they entered into their yard, but information is not revealed yet if Tommy McClain was one of these men. The gun police say they found at the scene has yet to be released.
Paid administrative leave. No charges filed.
3 Jeremy Lett
Unfortunately, this is one of the few times that police shot a man who was actually resisting arrest. The problem here is that none of the two men arrested at the scene had a firearm and video shows that there were several officers who were capable of subduing the victim without shooting him.
The man who actually shot Jeremy has had multiple accusations over the course of his career as well as multiple disciplinary actions as well. The officer, David Stithe, is on file for obscenities, and acting lewdly at a Girl Scouts of America office. Officer Stithe was given paid administrative leave following the incident, and no charges are expected to be filed by the District Attorney even after multiple letters and protests demanding an investigation.
2 Tamir Rice
A twelve-year-old kid was shot because of a fake airsoft gun. This is not the first time it's happened, and you can see the video of John Crawford in Wal-Mart being shot after picking up a toy gun with the intent to purchase it.
The video of Tamir shows him wandering a park, and the caller describes him as a black man with a gun. The caller describes it as "probably fake." You can see in the video that there is no attempt to talk to the boy, and there is no real elapsed time between the police arriving and the boy falling to the ground after being shot.
Even if the replica appeared real, one has to wonder why there is this idea that police must shoot first and ask questions later.
1 Jerame Reid
Two minutes can change your life forever.
"I'm going to shoot you. You're going to be f***ing dead, I'm telling you." The voice of the officer can be heard shouting at the man with his hands up. Jeremy Reid was dead just moments later.
The initial pull-over was due to passing through a stop sign without making a complete stop. The cops are both giving foggy orders. One tells him not to move and the other tells them to get out of the car. The man's hands are up, but as soon as he steps out of the car, the cop decides to kill him even though the man says "I will get out of the car and get on the ground."
This was a tense situation, and hotly debated. What do you think?