By: Marvin McCoy
Are you keeping up with the deaths of Black men by the LAPD? I know it’s only been three, but that’s three too many given it’s only the 14th day of the New Year.
Am I surprised? No, in fact, I’ve become sadly but admittedly desensitized to the seemingly endless number of deaths of minorities, in particular Black men where a routine encounter with the police turns deadly.
When will the police abide by their own policies in an effort to prevent such deaths especially when the common theme amongst the killings of Keenan Anderson, 31, Oscar Leon Sanchez, 35, and Takar Smith, 45 are mental health issues?
According to today’s front-page article by Richard Winton, LAPD has no such policy on how many times an officer can tase someone. Winton went so far as use statistics from a U.S. Department of Justice study that found 99.75% of field uses of stun guns (tasers) resulted in no injuries.
Keep in mind, probation officers are currently battling with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over their goal to eliminate the use of tasers inside juvenile halls.
The biggest issue I have, which coincidentally is also of concern to LAPD Chief Michael Moore is the officers not calling in mental health professionals when they were clearly needed.
What exactly is the criteria for officers, and deputies for that matter, to make that call?
The body camera footage shows Anderson walking up to the motor officer with no shoes on. That wasn’t a sign? His being fidgety and sort of complying then running into the street wasn’t a sign? Anderson asked repeatedly for “help” and couldn’t clearly articulate “who” was out to “get him”, which didn’t warrant the motor officer to radio for a mental health time like we heard him call for backup?
Smith’s wife repeatedly told the police that her husband and father of six children suffered from schizophrenia and was not on his medication didn’t warrant a call for the mental health unit? Yes, he picked up the knife but after he was tased and hit with a bean bag his reflex appeared to make him reach for the knife to defend himself then he’s shot seven times.
Sanchez was throwing metal objects and living in an abandoned house? That wasn’t a sign to call for mental health units? I mean isn’t that what Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is promoting on her success in Venice getting people off the street and into treatment?
These questions must be answered before the police commission takes a vote to return Moore back to his post for another 2 or 5 years.
These deaths are all highly preventable because it appears there is no real protocol for LAPD officers to follow in addressing residents in a mental health crisis and if it is he needs to answer why it’s not being done.
I read another report that LAPD recently banned stations from flying the Thin Blue Line flag in public spaces over a complaint he received this week that it represented “violent, extremist views.”
Do you see how fast Moore addressed a flag but not the violence that continues to plague Los Angeles at the hands of his officers?
Let’s be real, these deaths of Black men at the hands of law enforcement will not end anytime soon, especially if law enforcement are now using obvious mental health episodes to justify violence against the members of the community who need help.
All of the families of Anderson, Smith, and Sanchez acknowledge their loved ones struggled with mental health issues but that’s no reason for them to now be burying them because a police officer killed them.
Bass is razor focused on the homeless issue, I get it., but the elephant in the room she is ignoring is the police department.
I’ve seen her in photos with traffic officers. Why isn’t she doing her rounds at local police stations, especially those in and around South LA?
I’m all for warm and fuzzy moments but Karen Bass needs to have a real conversation with Michael Moore if this is really the job for him. It’s being widely discussed that he only wants the job for two more years. That in itself should disqualify him from getting another term because this issue won’t correct itself by then. It will instead be kicked down the road for the next man to fix and why not bring someone in new NOW?