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.
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.
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.
----REGISTER for my Innovation for Growth Workshop, Lagos, Sept 2018.
---Visit our Store for my books, cases, frameworks and more. Now, enjoy our consolidated subscription for all contents (past, present and future).
-- We offer Advisory Services (tech, strategy & Africa).