Saturday, April 13, 2013

How To "Prevent" a Suicide

Trey Smith

On November 3, 2009, Landris Hawkins wasn't having a good day. Hawkins, who suffered from Marfan Syndrome as well as some mental health issues, threaten to kill himself with a knife. Alarmed, his family phoned the Little Rock (Arkansas) Police Department for help. Several officers arrived and they made sure that Hawkins would not harm himself. How did they do it? They killed him!

Though Hawkins posed no risk to anyone but himself, the police pumped 4 bullets into him. And they did this in less than 2 minutes after arriving on the scene.

I wish I could say that this was a tragic anomaly, but I've actually read of several similar cases over the past few years. The police are contacted to help an individual in obvious emotional distress and, instead of deescalating the situation, they end up killing the person they are supposedly there to save.

While these incidents are alarming enough on their face, what becomes even more disturbing is that the police officers involved almost always are exonerated. A brief investigation is made and then it is announced that no criminal charges will be filed and, all too frequently, no internal disciplinary actions are meted out either. In the end, the police rarely apologize.

It's not just Little Rock either. All around the nation police departments seem to get away with the kinds of actions that average citizens could not. When we make snap decisions in error, we tend to face consequences. When the police make the same kinds of mistakes, they rarely face or accept any degree of responsibility.

Of course, that shouldn't be that surprising. In a police state, the police can do no wrong!

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