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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Ferguson, Mo., and Michael Brown: Was force necessary?

One question we should be asking after the Ferguson grand jury decision is: “Should a police badge be a license to kill?” [“Ferguson grand jury papers full of inconsistencies,” Nation & World, Nov. 27].

No doubt following accepted police protocol with respect to use of deadly force, officer Darren Wilson twice used his gun to allegedly defend himself against an unarmed person who allegedly posed a threat. Even assuming the threat was real, and that Michael Brown had turned back and appeared to be starting to “charge” at Wilson from 8 or 10 feet away, was it really necessary for Wilson to shoot him in the head?

Note that police in Britain do not carry guns and are trained to handle this type of situation in ways that do not result in the death of the suspect.

Why did Wilson have to give chase alone rather than waiting for backup? Could he not have used his stick, tried to elude Brown, or even shot him in the leg? Why are U.S. police trained to see any apparent risk to themselves as reason to shoot to kill?

Couple the unrestrained use of deadly force with the pattern of racial discrimination in the criminal-justice system, and the reasons for anger and frustration in the black community are painfully clear.

Not only must we ask if deadly force was necessary in this case, but also if Michael Brown would be dead if he were white.

Lee Holmer, Seattle

Comments | More in police | Topics: Darren Wilson, ferguson, Lee Holmer

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