New York State Police Sgt. Jay Cook is perhaps an exception to the many police officers who shoot and kill suspects or people they apprehend. On June 28, 2015, Officer Cook shot David Sweat twice in the torso in a field near the Canadian border.
Sweat along with Richard Matt staged a mysterious and sensational escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York and evaded a massive police manhunt for about two weeks before Matt was shot to death by the police.
Sgt. Jay Cook shooting of David Sweat should raise questions as to why more police don’t shoot to disable rather than kill. In the past two years, there have been a number of well-publicized incidents of black men being shot to death by the police.
Some of the police shooting of black men like Michael Brown in Fergusson, Missouri triggered weeklong protests. Others captured on video showed an unarmed black man in South Carolina being shot in the back as he tried to escape and 12-year-old Tamir Rice playing with a toy gun being shot without any warning to put his “weapon” away.
Based on the videos and eyewitness accounts, most of the police shootings of black men seems like they could have been done to disable rather than kill. It is well known that police confrontations with black people are usually anything but cordial. A history of blacks not trusting the police, the police treating blacks with little respect, and some blacks being defiant have contributed to the deadly violence that some police use on blacks.
There is no doubt that there is some racial animus of police in dealing with black people. Too often people pretend that this is not the case, but this is simple a denial. Race is an obsession in America and it affects the decision that we all make.
The training of police officers needs to be reformed so that police can conduct themselves with professionalism and not be influenced by the race of people. This training also needs to enhance their ability to shoot to disable a suspect like Sgt. Cook did unless there is no option to do so.
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