One unconscious woman in a locked car. One gun on her lap. Four police officers called to help her. They break the window to get to her. Startled by the sound, she awakens and reaches for the gun. Twenty-six gunshots later, the black woman is dead. The black community rises up in massive protest. “Racism”, is declared. The police officers are investigated, then cleared of any wrong-doing. More protests – black and white. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, Martin Luther King III and the usual suspects join the fray – at least 1,000 in all. Now come the arrests – 46 in all. We are one step away from another riot, just like what happened after the Rodney King beating by L.A.’s finest.
I say forget racism. The greater problem is gross incompetence. Incompetence by the police department. Los Angeles and New York. Similar scenarios, same tragic results. In this case, four police officers, at close range couldn’t safely subdue one woman without blasting her to smithereens. That’s a disgrace.
Twelve bullets actually hit her. Think about it. She’s in the car – unconscious, no less. How much did they assess the situation and their options before blundering in by smashing the window and setting the ball rolling to this horrible ending? Can’t have been very much.
A police officer I spoke with said of the shots fired by his group, only 15% hit their target. And that’s the national average. This tells me that these guys need to go back to school and the practice range. They need to learn how to cope with different situations humanely and they need to learn how to use their weapons effectively. One wonders what kind of training they’re getting these days.
Right now we have inexperienced people performing a critical job without the proper psychological and practical training. They react out of fear most of the time in high adrenaline output situations. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. I’m sure there’s some racism involved. But if our police were better trained, practically and socially, we’d all be a lot safer and more confident that racism is not a factor in such shooting incidents.
The woman, Tyisha Miller, 19, was shot to death by Riverside County police officers on December 28, 1998 when they responded to a 911 call. The protests and arrests occurred Monday, May 11, 1999. (original post May 13, 1999)