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Baton Rouge Police Tackle Man, Hold Him Down, Shoot Him Five Times

2016-07-06

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A Baton Rouge man is dead after  two policemen tackled him, held him down, and shot him five times.   He was said to have been selling bootleg discs in front of a convenience store, and someone claimed that he had brandished a gun.  The linked video from Twitter is blurry and only shows the beginning of the “confrontation” but what is clear is that two policemen tackle a man and hold him down.   Then, a few seconds after they grab him and appear to have him under control on the ground, one of the officers draws his weapon, holds it over his chest, says something, and then shoots twice.   The video goes blank, but a few seconds later, three further shots are heard.   The video is certainly blurry and shaky, but it is apparent that two policemen tackle the man and hold him face up on the ground.  The man collides with a parked car on the way down.  A moment later, the video shows that while one of the policemen is holding the man down with another policeman, he draws his weapon.  It is clear that the man is held motionless on the ground by the two policemen.  Also clearly, there is a delay after the policeman draws his weapon while something is shouted.

Note from the video that the policemen appear to be extremely aggressive when they are taking the man to the ground, almost like they were playing football and swarming over an opposing player.  Then, after the policeman draws his gun, what he says sounds very hostile and profane.  Perhaps the man said or did something that was provocative to the police, but that doesn’t explain their sudden, overwhelming attack on the man.

It is clear that the man is held on the ground by two policemen for several seconds before he is shot.  There doesn’t appear to be any reason for the policeman to shoot.

No charges have yet been filed, but federal law enforcement authorities are investigating.  This incident is consistent with the way Baton Rouge police handle encounters with nonwhite citizens who appear to be, in their eyes, violating some law, although not personally threatening to the police (there is no evidence that the man who was shot was pointing a gun at the police or anyone else, although apparently the police were called because someone said the man had waved a gun at them.)

This is typical of the overly aggressive behavior of policemen in Baton Rouge, in fact all over the United States.  The police need to be retrained to be less aggressive and less confrontational.  There is no excuse for shooting a man who is already under control and lying on the ground.  Many police shootings appear to be related to the casual way in which policemen brandish their weapons in confrontations with nonwhite people.  This is wrong, and must be stopped, or else nonwhite people will never regain their respect for policemen or authority in general.

I grieve for the lack of respect that people in authority, especially in the United States, show for other people, mainly people who lack status.  Before people in authority can command respect from the people over whom they exercise control, they must demonstrate respect for those people.  There is no legitimate authority without respect for the people.

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