28 Dec 2015

A year of reckoning: Police fatally shoot nearly 1,000

Nearly a thousand times this year, an American police officer has shot and killed a civilian.
When the people hired to protect their communities end up killing someone, they can be called heroes or criminals — a judgment that has never come more quickly or searingly than in this era of viral video, body cameras and dash cams. A single bullet fired at the adrenaline-charged apex of a chase can end a life, wreck a career, spark a riot, spike racial tensions and alter the politics of the nation.
Like a growing number of police shootings, the death of David Kassick on a snow-covered field near his sister’s house in Hummelstown, Pa., was captured on video — a technological shift that has dramatically altered how Americans perceive officers’ use of deadly force.
In two minutes and 10 seconds of harrowing footage, the Kassick video serves as an almost perfect Rorschach test in the national debate over when it is justifiable for an officer to take a life.

‘Shots fired’

Officer Lisa Mearkle has chased Kassick, first by car, then on foot. Now she’s zapped him with her Taser and he’s writhing on the ground, on snow, jammed up against a line of trees.
Viewed through the camera attached to the officer’s Taser, Kassick reacts to each of three shocks from the stun gun. Mearkle, screaming, orders Kassick, who is already involuntarily on the ground, to “Get on the ground! Get on the ground!”
“Okay, okay,” he responds.
As the officer stands over Kassick, repeatedly ordering him to “Lie down” and “Show your hands,” the 59-year-old does just that. He moans in pain, pulls his right hand out from under his head and stretches to display the hand.
But three times during the video, Kassick also does other things with his hands. As he says “Okay, okay” to the officer’s command, he also reaches toward his jacket pocket. A little later, his left hand moves toward his front pants pocket. He appears to be trying to remove Taser wires from his clothing. Thirty seconds later, he uses his left hand to lift himself slightly from the snow.
At the 1:39 mark, there’s a pop and Mearkle says, “Shots fired.”
Within seconds, Kassick is flat on his stomach. He lifts his head. The officer, calm now, says, “Keep your hands where I can see them.”
The video ends. Kassick is dead, shot twice in the back.
He was unarmed.
Mearkle had given chase after Kassick fled from her attempt to pull him over for having an expired inspection sticker on his car.

Read More:http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/12/26/a-year-of-reckoning-police-fatally-shoot-nearly-1000/


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