We often hear from “back the blue” advocates that police officers are brave and heroic, but it appears that many cops will resort to using lethal force rather than take even the most minuscule chance that their safety might be in danger—and there’s just nothing brave or heroic about that.
Earlier this week, we reported that while Black people are still grappling with the violent and traumatic death of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, another story of egregious police brutality came out of Los Angeles, where 36-year-old Anthony Lowe, a Black man who had both of his legs amputated, was shot to death by LAPD officers who, apparently, feared for their lives because Nichols was wielding a knife.
Video footage of the shooting understandably outraged many people in L.A. and around the nation, but that didn’t stop police officials from defending the shooting by noting that police tried deploying a taser to subdue the man—who is unable to walk, let alone run away—and when the tasers were “ineffective” they decided lethal force was their only recourse. After all, Lowe looked like he might throw the knife at them, so why not shoot him to death rather than risk the possibility that he’s an expert knife thrower with ninja-like precision aim, amirite?
Lowe’s family members as well as local activists are challenging the idea that the officers, who have all been placed on administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation into the shooting, had no other choice but to shoot a disabled person to death.
“How do you need to put into words the limitations on his physical mobility?” Cliff Smith, an organizer with the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, asked, according to the Washington Post. “The officers are in their full capacity. It’s beyond absurd to say that the officers are in any risk.”
“He can’t do anything or go anywhere,” Smith continued. “It’s frustrating to even try to capture this in words. I mean, it’s so evident. What kind of mind-set do these officers have to determine that this is the correct course of action?”
Still, Huntington Park police continue to insist that Lowe “threatened to advance or throw the knife at the officers,” and that the “threat” justifies lethal force.
Meanwhile, Lowe’s sister, Yatoya Toy, questioned why the officers weren’t wearing body cameras, according to the Post, and she talked about how her brother’s killing caused her to fear for her own son.
From the Post:
Lowe had been slowly rehabilitating after losing both lower legs in an injury several months ago, Toy said. A few weeks before his death, he had gotten sized for prosthetic legs, which he would have received Monday, she said.
“When I see the mothers crying, I don’t feel like, ‘Oh, that could never be me,’” Toy said. “To be honest with you, the more I see it, the closer to home it was getting for me … I got a 22-year-old son of my own. I’m terrified for him. And I saw my brother. He looked like he was terrified when he was running.”
Maybe—just maybe Black people run from cops because we’re terrified of them. And maybe they keep proving why our fear is legitimate.
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