US police officer shooting at rock-wielding man ‘another example of trigger-finger overreaction’

© Bryan Woolston
American police in general don’t know how to do their job well; they don’t make good choices in critical situations and they don’t investigate long enough before they make those choices, Michelle Gross, president of Communities United against Police Brutality, told RT.

A police officer shot a man involved in a domestic dispute at a Dallas airport in the US.

At least 9 shots were reported in the baggage area. The officer opened fire on an African-American man who was allegedly throwing rocks at the mother of his children. The shooting incident sparked panic at the airport and delayed over 100 flights.

RT: Is it an adequate response from the police officer to fire nine times at a man who threatened him with a stone?

Michelle Gross: I have to say that I was appalled by the way that that officer conducted himself. That is a very busy airport, there are many people, most people did not have any idea what was going on at the moment, and going after a guy who has a stone with lethal force when there are that many people around, I think it is highly irresponsible. I was really concerned by the fact that they didn’t attempt to use less lethal weapons, to the best of my knowledge. Why didn’t they try, for example, a taser. A taser is able to work from 21 feet away… as opposed to just pulling out his gun shooting all over the place... 

RT: Is it safe to say that this officer acted using unnecessary and excessive force?

MG: I feel that it was given the limited amount we know about the circumstances. I think it was excessive force. If a person has a rock, a rock is really not a lethal weapon in usual circumstances. So it makes some sense that they should have attempted to use less lethal force, particularly a taser or a weapon that puts some distance between themselves, like pepper spray. But probably a taser would have been the right choice in that particular incident. I think it was excessive force. Not only towards that individual; it was inappropriate force given the locale and given the circumstances of the situation. People were put at risk without reason when other devices would have worked very well.

RT: Why do we continue to hear about a lot of cases of officers unnecessarily opening fire particularly involving African-American victims?

MG: I don’t know who the victim was in this particular incident, but we have a serious problem with police brutality in the US, probably some of the worst in the entire world. All people are at risk of police brutality, but people of color and low income people are at the highest in this country. In Minnesota, for example, black folks make up approximately 6 percent of the population, but approximately 40 percent of the police brutalities. So, it is really a huge issue that policing is so race-based, it’s so economic-based, and also the level of over-reaction of police officers. They don’t know how to do their job well; they don’t make good choices in critical situations. They don’t investigate long enough before they make those choices. We have a lot of trigger-finger, quick reactions to incidents where a little bit more introspection and a little more investigation could actually save people’s lives and make the situation safer for more people.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.