Or, how the NYPD got away with murder. Again.
In case you haven’t been following this story, here’s a link. Back in 2006, three police officers shot a man named Sean Bell 50 times as he was leaving a strip club during his bachelor party. Bell and his friends were unarmed. The cops claimed they had reason to believe that Bell was going for a gun, and apparently that justified not only shooting Bell, but in the case of one officer emptying his gun, reloading, and emptying it again. At no point were the officers ever actually under fire, or even under threat of violence, but apparently Detective Michael Oliver felt that he needed to fire 31 rounds to take Bell down.
Here’s a bit of a lesson: Police officers, and really anyone who takes firearm courses, are taught in general to fire two to four shots at the target’s center of mass. Had each of the officers followed these guidelines, the shooting would still not have been justified, but at least they would have only expended 10-12 rounds total. Nowhere in police operating doctrine does it instruct officers to empty their magazine, reload, and empty it again when they are not under fire.
Not that this mattered to the courts. Once again, the justice system deemed the words and actions of police officers infallible. Just as in the case of Amadou Diallo, a man who about a decade back was shot 41 times by police officers, the officers who murdered Sean Bell were acquitted of all charges.
And the police wonder why we don’t trust them…