Yet another case of potential abuse of power by the police has come to light, this time in Phoenix, Arizona. According to news sources, a man tried to flee from the police, leading them on a merry chase all the way back to his home. Finally, he ended up running into a fence and when he tried to take off again it happened to be in the direction of some police officers. The officers, fearing for their lives, shot at the car and killed the man. What’s really been making this story a headline, however, is the fact that the man’s five-year-old son happened to be in the car with him.
After the initial crash, the man tried to back up, heading in the direction of one officer. He fired a shot but didn’t hit the driver. When the car changed direction it was toward more officers, who then let loose with a volley of bullets. The law states that a car can be considered a deadly weapon and that officers have the right to fire should they feel their lives are in danger.
Though I have to wonder… If the guy ran into a fence and the officers had enough time to park their cars, get out and then almost get run over, why didn’t they run up to the car and drag the guy out forcibly? Or why not position their cars so that he couldn’t get away without trying to go through them? Perhaps they could have shot the tires of the car, or is that just a Hollywood gimmick? Whatever the options available, there had to be something more than just filling the car full of bullets. Hell, even continuing the chase until the guy ran out of gas seems the better option than taking his life.
The main reason this one has been making the rounds on the news is because of the five-year-old in the passenger’s seat. If the officers had fired a few more bullets or their aim been a bit off, the boy’s death could have ended up as a highlight of the news as well. As it stands, he’ll certainly be scarred for life having had to watch his father get shot to death a few feet away from him.
Some would say that the officers were in fear for their lives, but I think this a flimsy excuse. Being an officer of the law means risking your life, even to the point of possibly being hit by a car in an effort to not kill someone. When bullets become an easy fix to a situation, the integrity of the police force is failing. Putting rounds into a drunk driver because he runs is far from responsible police behavior. Hopefully, the Phoenix Police Department will take this seriously and try to correct this problem to save lives in the future.