As Topeka grapples with the issue of police officers and deadly force and the newly released body cam footage of the two officers who shot and killed Dominique White (and knowing that they face no charges for this death), I admit I am not surprised by the outcome.
Contrary to the belief that all that’s wrong with American policing is “a few bad apples,” I believe District Attorney Mike Kagay just proved that what’s wrong with American policing is systemic. “Shoot to kill” is part of their training. In our society, a person (usually not white) can be shot by police before his name is known because someone, somewhere heard gunshots (even though there was no evidence of any crime being committed by the victim), he is fleeing and he has a weapon (whether that gun is actually a threat or not).
In Kansas, we have allowed pretty much anyone to carry a gun, and this should be a cause for pause. Although reports justify the shooting by saying Dominique’s possession was unlawful, officers did not know that when they shot him. There were no verbal commands on the body cam. The decision to kill was made in less than six seconds, based on very little evidence of the victim’s “threat” to the safety of anyone.
This is considered good policing by American standards.
The history of one of the officers involved only further proves that the problems are far more than individual police officers – we have a system that supports and condones officers even when they harm members of the public they are meant to protect. All around our state and our country, officer-related shootings have taken similar turns.
Time to ask, Topeka: To serve and protect what?
SARAH OGLESBY-DUNEGAN, Topeka