This morning I woke up and felt my heart shatter when I read that a black, potentially mentally ill, unarmed man was shot multiple times yesterday in California. Not only as someone recognizes the undeniable discrimination and clear lack of qualitative training in our modern police force but also as someone who champions the reformation and destigmatization of how we see and treat mental health. However you may identify, so long as its human, should make you question what exactly goes through an officer’s mind when they get a call of a man “not acting like himself”.
As with any event, we don’t have all the facts. We don’t know exactly what was said, done, or truly happened honestly.
This picture is a screengrab from a police video, which begs the question “where’s the video?”. I’ll touch more on that later. What you can see is Alfred with his arms out in a shooting stance, with the two officers in their prepared stances to shoot as we know the did. I know what this picture begs; “Yup, arms out, he could have a gun, deserved to be shot.”
As you let that question flow through your mind for the next few minutes, somehow justifying a very possible preventable loss of a life, I want you to actually think even if its the only time in your life you’re going to use your very developed cortex. Alfred’s sister called 911 reporting that her brother was acting strange and unlike himself. Personally, I feel that those words need to set off alarms in an officer’s head that a potentially highly tense and even dangerous situation could arise. There’s several factors that could explain differing behavior, the primary two being drugs or an illness. Going into these situations without any ideas in mind on how to de-escalate is extremely reckless.
Both officers discharged their weapons simultaneously, fatally striking the man with several bullets as well as a high-voltage Taser shock. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead Tuesday evening.
This is de-escalation? This is how our police is supposed to work? They didn’t protect society from any clear danger, they certainly didn’t protect Alfred. While they acted with self-preservation in mind, they didn’t even protect themselves from a clear danger. “several bullets” to me implies more than 2, which is absolutely absurd. Oh and I’m so glad they tasered him!
You know when these officers are in the wrong because the department never released their videos to the public. If these officers were totally justified in their actions, why not release the video? We could see what unfolded and end speculation! What I’ve decided is either police have no interest in their relations to the public or , clearly, the officers were not justified in their actions. To be totally honest, I believe its a bit of both.
There’s a part of me that believes this was an act of suicide by cop and whether that is the case or not something must be done about about the way we are policed in this country and once I’m more concrete in my thoughts on reform I’ll write about it. Today I mourn the loss of Alfred Olango, a senseless tragedy that once again marks the much needed amelioration of America’s modern police force.