Hands up, don’t shoot

Columnist Katie Haga

Columnist Katie Haga

#HandsUpDontShoot filled news feeds again after the back-to-back deaths of two black men by the hands of police officers, one on Sept. 16, and then again on Tuesday.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a car that stalled in the middle of the road early Friday evening brought the attention of four police officers as well as a helicopter reporter. Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who was tending to his broken-down SUV, walked back to his vehicle with his hands in the air, and it was then the police drew their weapons. He was first tasered and then shots were fired by police officers, killing Crutcher.
Footagereleased days after the killing of Crutcher, which sparked rage across the nation. We’ve got yet another case of police brutality on our hands. But, unlike many of these cases, justice was served. The officer who killed Terence Crutcher, Betty Shelby, was charged on Thursday with first-degree manslaughter. After receiving both helicopter and dash cam footage, it’s easily seen officer Shelby overreacted when making the decision to pull the trigger.
With most cases like these, without the footage of what actually happened, the victims of police brutality rarely ever get justice. There are three sides to each story. The side of the officer, the side of the witness and what actually happened. The public rarely sees what actually happens, whether it be because the police refuse to release the footage or it just wasn’t recorded at all. What would lessen cases like these would be mandatory body cameras for all officers while on duty.
A study done by the University of South Florida in Oct. 2015 reported on yearlong body-worn cameras at the Orlando police department. Fourty six officers were randomly selected to wear the cameras and then there were 43 who did not have cameras.

Logan Cyrus // charolettemagazine.com

Logan Cyrus // charolettemagazine.com

Throughout the 12 months, March 2014 to February 2015, shows that “use-of-force” incidents dropped 53 percent among officers with cameras, and civilian complaints against those officers also saw 65 percent decline. The study also showed significant reductions in number of civilian injuries as well as injuries to officers themselves. The results were outstanding.
The public continues to protest in Charlotte, North Carolina after police refuse to release footage of 43-year-old Keith Scott who was fatally shot by police officers Tuesday afternoon. According to a tally done by the Washington Post, Scott was the 173 black person to be fatally shot by police in 2016. Police claim Scott was armed with a weapon, whereas witnesses say he was carrying a book. Without the footage, the public may never truly know what happened to Scott. Another life added to the list of many black lives taken by officers.
Six out of 10 black men say they have been treated unfairly by police because of their race, according to a 2015 study done by the Associated Press Center for Public Affairs research. Along with data conducted by The Guardian that states black males between the ages 15 and 34 are nine times more likely to be killed by police more than any other demographic. These statistics are the perfect examples as to why body cameras should be mandatory for all officers on duty.
Although body cameras may not completely put an end to police brutality, it’s a start. These cameras could provide ease to the minds of black men and women who fear for their lives when they’re stopped by police. I hope that one day I will never have to see another black life lost to police brutality as a trending topic on Twitter.