Shaun King / The Daily Kos & Kate Abbey-Lambertz / The Huffington Post – 2015-02-04 02:19:39
17-year-old Kristiana Coignard Shot and Killed
By Three Police Officers after Brandishing Knife
Shaun King / The Daily Kos
(January 26, 2015) — American police will kill you. Run from them, they’ll kill you. Act nervous when they scream at you and they’ll kill you. Do nothing at all and they’ll kill you. Walk down the stairs and they’ll kill you. Put your hands up and they’ll kill you.
Mental illness matters not to American police if they imagine, sense, or perceive a threat of any kind; They will shoot you over and over again until you die.
It’s not this way around the world, but in the good ‘ol US of A, our officers are shooting and killing people at a record pace. So, when Kristiana Coignard walked into a Longview, Texas police department, and picked up the phone there to speak to someone, the fact that she would soon be shot to death by three police officers may have already occurred to her, but as details emerge about her shooting death, it’s hard to imagine if she walked into a police department in nearly any other country in the world that she would’ve died in a barrage of bullets.
Please read below the fold for details on this story.
On Friday, January 23, 17-year-old student Kristiana Coignard walked into her local police department, picked up a telephone, and asked to speak to an officer. Sometime after that she pulled “a weapon” and was shot and killed by three police officers.
For three days, that’s pretty much all the police have said. Refusing to say what type of weapon she brandished, the inference was that it was so lethal a weapon that it must’ve been a gun or a stick of dynamite or hand grenade, but Longview Mayor Jay Dean just revealed that it wasn’t a gun at all, but a knife.
In an article on Think Progress, it was revealed that Kristiana was struggling mightily with mental illness.
Coignard was living in Longview with her Aunt, Heather Robertson. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Robertson raised questions about the circumstances of Coignardâ€™s death. â€œI think it was a cry for help. I think they could have done something. They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.â€
Robertson said that her niece had been struggling with mental illness, including depression and bipolar disorder, since her mother died when she was four. She had been hospitalized twice in recent years after suicide attempts. One time, she tried to hang herself. Another time, she drank toilet bowl cleaner. Since arriving in Longview in December, Coignard had been taking medication and regularly seeing a therapist. She had no criminal record and â€œwas only violent with herself, â€ Robertson said.
It’s hard to believe, no matter what the circumstance, that the only option available to the Longview police department was to shoot Kristiana over and over again.
In London, a depressed man struggling with mental illness got two large knives and pulled them out in front of Buckingham Palace, but the police, trained on how to surround and subdue a man like him with nonlethal force, did so in less than a minute.
In the United States, though, eight officers and a police dog, surrounded a mentally ill man with a knife, and, instead of subduing him, shot at him 46 times until he bled out and died there in the parking lot.
A homeless man, James Boyd, was shot over and over again by New Mexico police in spite of not being a grave threat to them.
Kajieme Powell, in the midst of psychotic episode, was shot and killed by St. Louis police within seconds of pulling up next to him.
In an Economist article entitled “Trigger Happy,” the true story of just how quickly American police are willing to shoot and kill people is made frighteningly clear:
Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one. Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britainâ€™s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014 the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Walesâ€™s 43 forces during the same period.
This is a public safety crisis. While our nation may have more guns than many others, it’s disgustingly obvious that our police are shooting and killing people who are unarmed and often mentally ill and it must stop.
Charges Dismissed Against Joseph Weekley,
Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old
Kate Abbey-Lambertz / The Huffington Post
(January 30, 2015) — The Detroit police officer who fatally shot a sleeping 7-year-old girl will not be retried, officials said Wednesday.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that her office was moving to dismiss the case against Officer Joseph Weekley. He was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death, a misdemeanor, after Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed in 2010 during a botched police raid at her home.
Weekley’s first trial in 2013 ended in a mistrial. In a second trial last year, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charge after a motion by the defense. The jury again deadlocked while deliberating whether to convict Weekley of the lesser charge, causing a second mistrial.
“Today we personally informed the family of Aiyana Stanleyâ€“Jones that we have made a decision that we would not be going to trial for a third time in the Joseph Weekley case,” Worthy said, calling Hathaway’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge “unfortunate.”
Shortly after midnight on May 16, 2010, members of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team initiated a raid on the Stanley-Jones home in search of a murder suspect. Weekley was first through the door and allegedly had difficulty seeing when another officer threw a a flash-bang grenade. Weekley fired his gun, killing Aiyana, who had been asleep on the couch with her grandmother.
Weekley maintained that he only shot because the grandmother, Mertilla Jones, struck his gun. She denied touching his weapon, and at trial the prosecution questioned why Weekley had his finger on the trigger.
As activists around the country have widely protested the police killings of unarmed black individuals, including Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Detroiters have added Aiyana’s name to the list of victims. In October, Roland Lawrence, chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Committee, condemned the judge’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge against Weekley.
“Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society,” Lawrence said in a statement at the time.
The prosecution will move to dismiss the case against Weekley Friday morning.
UPDATE, Jan. 30: — The case against Weekley has officially been dismissed.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the charge of careless discharge causing injury or death in court Friday morning, the Detroit Free Press reports. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office requested the case be dropped rather than pursue a third trial for Weekley after two mistrials.]
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