The American Terminator Paralysis

The American Terminator Paralysis

A man opened his door in Kansas, USA and was shot by police. There had been a swatting call which triggered military-kind response to the private home.  Unfortunately, video game players instead of killing virtual avatars played a heinous game that took a man’s physical life. Our prayers go to the families of the victim.

A feud between two Call of Duty players led to the death of a 28-year-old Kansas man, who was shot and killed by police after a fraudulent 911 call sent a SWAT team to the man’s private home.

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In this case, Wichita local Andrew Finch, whose family members say did not play video games and was a father of two young boys, answered his door only to face down a SWAT team-level response. Allegedly, one officer immediately fired upon Finch, who later died at a hospital. It’s unclear why Finch, who is said not to have had a weapon on him, was fired upon. The Wichita Eagle reports that the police department is investigating the issue, which occurred late Thursday night.

In this piece, I am focusing on the trigger-happy American police force which is trained to KILL as they always shoot to the head or heart. In Nigeria, the police force is largely trained to shoot at the legs (unless there is an active criminal battle) with the main motive being to maim or stop motion. Yet, in the U.S, the problem is not with the men and women serving their counties and cities as police officers; the issue has to do with the laws, constitution and the environments the police officers operate.

In Nigeria, the police assume that the subject is not armed most of the time. In short, policemen go to arrest people in their homes (for domestic issues) unarmed. The power is in the uniform as they arrest people to settle disputes with neighbors. But in U.S., the policeman assumes the citizen to be 100% armed, always. The implication is that the policeman is coming with the assumption that he can be attacked or killed. And that is why bad things happen: a man calls the police, sees the police outside his house, comes out to meet the police, and ends up dead. Everyone is at risk: the caller, the suspect and the police.

Few weeks ago, a woman called the police in U.S. informing the force that she could not recognize people in her neighborhood. The police responded. The woman then walked to meet the police and the police shot her dead. Reason? The police did not see her hands as she was coming!

The Power of Policy

What is happening in U.S is largely driven by the U.S. Constitution and all the subsequent amendments which empower ordinary citizens to own and carry ammunition. The implication is that anyone of legal age with clean criminal record could acquire a gun. So, people can pack guns as though they are packing biscuits (cookies) and candies (sweets). And with that, the police assumes that every home is armed thereby going with all precaution biased to the safety of police officers. With that, any tolerance of error is practically eliminated because thinking too much could be tragic to the officers.

While it is easy to criticize cops for being too quick to reach for the gun—and more often than not, in the case of police brutality, it is correct to do so—we must understand that policemen, being humans, experience fear as well. There is sufficient evidence that explains why police officers fear for their lives when going out on patrol in bad neighborhoods. Keep in mind that officers are three times more likely to be murdered in high gun ownership states. It is therefore far more understandable and, more importantly, acceptable, for a police officer to draw his weapon in America than it is in any other country.

Contrast that with Nigeria where ordinary citizens are outlawed to own and carry guns. And because many people do not own guns, the police officers work on the assumption that they can go and arrest those two men that fought and broke glasses in the bar, last night, in their different houses, with no fear of being shot.

All Together

The deaths from police mistakes are unfortunate. But they will not stop in America because the root cause is not within the power of the police to fix. Since the American Congress cannot do anything about gun control under a Republican Congress and Presidency, we would continue to see the police training to follow the unique pattern of shooting as a core element of defense.

An ordinary Kansas citizen, Andrew Finch, is dead because of the fake police calls. But it is fair to extrapolate that in some places the police would have held fire despite the information they were fed. At least, someone could have waited to see him draw a gun before firing. But that was not the police training. Mr. Finch is dead. And you wonder how opening a family door, unarmed, could result to a loss of life.

America needs to fix its trigger-happy policing. But that will not happen because it is the tenet of the American constitution that is driving how the police force is trained, and subsequently act in the field. The point I am drawing here is that policies have impacts, and most times unless you can piece them together well, you run the risk of stimulating regrettable consequences. The gun rights in America could be the reason why the police force is always shooting even when police in other nations could have held fire.

 

Update: added a quote which I have in the comment section in the piece.


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8 thoughts on “The American Terminator Paralysis

  1. I enjoy reading from you. On this piece, Switzerland is a country where 30% of the population is said to possess military issued firearm but they have a low violent – crime rate….. Happy New Year

    Reply
    1. I am not sure if that changed my thesis. Switzerland has 24% per household. US is 44% and Canada is 22%. Those are still statistically huge. Everyone is still looking for the root-cause why a man will call a police to his house and gets shot. Why do that happen? That is largely different from “violent crime”. My focus is the police action

      Reply
  2. Hi Ndubuisi, thanks for your insights and always sharing. Good job you do. Policemen are not trained to kill, thy are not licenced killers. They are trained to respond to situations which are often dangerous, sometimes extremely volatile, situations only they or allied forces can respond to. They may have a few seconds or less to process their action in a volatile situation. Their response may be to use a weapon or not, and when they use a weapon it may be to harm, disarm or to kill, in a bid to protect themselves and the community. Police action to kill, even soldiers too, can be illegal if it does not follow laid down procedure. I am curious about the comparison between American police and Nigerian police. For real? Biko o. Please research the police college. You can barely call that training.

    I am sure you have read this report – we have the worst police in the world on all parameters measured http://www.ipsa-police.org/images/uploaded/Pdf%20file/WISPI%20Report.pdf

    It is pure delight to hear someone write something ‘positive’ about Nigerian police. But that is in our dreams. We all have stories to tell. They have failed in so many indicators that we shouldn’t even measure police action with regards to wilful killings, accidental discharge, et al. Our police needs deliverance.

    Reply
    1. You missed the whole piece. If you read clearly, the piece is not about the police killing but impacts of policies. The gun rights in America makes it possible for people to buy guns in U.S. with ease. That is not the case in Nigeria. At individual level, Nigerian police may be worse but at collective level, no one calls a police at home and is worried that police can shoot him as he comes out of his door. I do not know where you live but if a police man stops you in Lagos, your mind does not go to this man using his gun because he cannot see your hands. Sure, we have works to do but I personally feel comfortable when a policeman stops a car I am riding in Lagos than in U.S. Those things do not happen by chance: I am connecting them to policy.

      Read this
      “While it is easy to criticize cops for being too quick to reach for the gun—and more often than not, in the case of police brutality, it is correct to do so—we must understand that policemen, being humans, experience fear as well. There is sufficient evidence that explains why police officers fear for their lives when going out on patrol in bad neighborhoods. Keep in mind thatofficers are three times more likely to be murdered in high gun ownership states. It is therefore far more understandable and, more importantly, acceptable, for a police officer to draw his weapon in America than it is in any other country.”
      http://guprogressive.com/the-relationship-between-gun-control-and-police-brutality/

      Reply
  3. Your premise ab initio is that police in the US are trained to KILL. That is what is contested. They are not. And the Nigerian police are hardly trained.

    It is only logical that policing in a context where gun rights or proliferation of guns and light weapons will involve more police killings as you concluded above and I agree. And I agree, this is more likely to occur in particular neighbourhoods in the US, taking other factors into consideration as well.

    In the particular instance of this shooting, I have listened to the 911 call made by the caller. It was graphic and confronting, saying he has murdered someone and fuel all over the house ready to ignite it. I have watched the shooting as I know you have. The police arrived, asked for the door to be opened, and the victim to raise his hands. The poor man did, then suddenly put his hands down, and he was shot. So painful and tragic.

    I am not holding brief for the police in the US, I acknowledge there are rogue police officers in the US and other jurisdiction who mindlessly shoot at innocent civilians unprovoked. That is criminal. Personally, when I approach the police in the US, I don’t feel uncomfortable – I know they are there to keep the community safe. Not the case in Nigeria.

    What I have learned is this – if the police or any authorised officer who bears a weapon gives an instruction, you put your life in peril to not obey promptly and accordingly. If you do, the chances of being killed is negligible. If you don’t, it may end badly.

    Reply
  4. The current shooting is just a reference but the piece is policy-focused. The summary is that “policy has consequences”. Yes, the law states that every person must HEAR well (and be composed with gun pointed) so that police instructions are obeyed! That was the reason they killed a guy who was on earbuds ignorantly pulling up his pant in a shop. The person that attracted the attention heard and complied. The guy died. And of course he was not armed but on wireless earbuds. The police is doing a great job and you agree that policy has consequences: have your gun but expect the police to assume you have it as it makes decisions. That is all I am saying to gun advocates. I am happy Nigeria is different.

    Reply
  5. Correct, all policies have consequences. In this case it is a second amendment right that will require bi-partisan support AND community support to address. The US is not even close to that at the moment. The right to bear arms is not going to change in the US, the regulations around who, what and how is what we might hope can address the horrendous situation.

    Reply

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