Another day another man shot by police. It’s becoming so repetitive, it’s a tale as old as time. Man does something illegal, man has weapon, police respond, police tell him put down his weapon, man refuses, police shoot. It’s a classic story just waiting for the Disney treatment. This time it’s in Charlotte, NC, where a man apparently was holding up a Burger King with a gun when police were called. After telling him to put his gun down and him refusing repeatedly, an officer fired a fatal round, or as those in the pro-Kaepernick community call it, an officer took a breath.
These stories, often similar in nature, all lack one thing that I think we all agree the police community needs more training in. Proper etiquette. Does any officer stop and think, even with a man ready to kill him feet away, that maybe some manners could stop the crime from unfolding? You always hear the police say they ordered the man to put his weapon down, but you know what you never hear? Please.
Sir, I understand you’re upset at nothing in particular, and you’re ready to shoot a civilian making minimum wage at a Burger King because your welfare checks have stopped coming in, but could you PLEASE put your gun down, and we can discuss this like gentlemen?
I don’t know about you, but if I were down on my luck enough to rob a Burger King, I think someone speaking to me like a human-being would be enough to get me to rethink my current life choice. We can’t ask the victims though, they’re dead, due to pulling guns on cops and all, but I believe if we could ask them, in hindsight, what would’ve made a difference, they’d all have a similar answer:
Had the police officer simply asked me to please stop what I was doing, I would have. I’m not an animal. I’m just trying to make a living like any other guy out there, through the use of physical violence and homicidal threats.
Obviously, this shooting has led to protests of “Shoot first, ask questions later.” by those who have made their judgement first with no need for questions, ever. So beyond using the word please, it seems to me the people want police to also have proper training in conversational techniques they could employ in the future, rather than choosing to protect their own lives and the community they serve from the whack-job with a gun and nothing to lose.
Instead of saying put down the gun, maybe ask, “Why won’t you put down the gun?” or “How does holding that gun on an unarmed civilian really make you feel?” Perhaps police departments could start hiring more psychiatrists who could have prescription pads in their holsters and leave their guns in their lockers.
It’s clear that this is almost 99% of the time never the victims fault, as he can’t control the actions of the police. His actions, of course, leading up to the shooting are pretty much null and void once that bullet penetrates his skin, leaving all the blame to fall on the guy with the badge doing his job and trying to end the threat while putting his own life on the line. It’s a good thing that we can make our own assumptions though that the police acted too trigger happy after the fact while ignoring the precipitating events. Hopefully we can learn from here though, “please” and “thank you’s” can go a long way.