Excerpt from a comparison of US police use of deadly force to other countries (and the racial influences in those differences):
Worse, police in the U.S. expect to be shown special deference by members of the public at large. Noble sounding as that idea is in the abstract, in practical terms it has devastating results. Given that doctrine of “respect,” any hint of disrespect or disobedience during a routine encounter – even completely imagined – can escalate into a sidewalk execution.
Combined with an ongoing legacy of historically charged, extraordinary demands of respect from racial minorities by law enforcement, such situations become exceptionally dangerous for non-White citizens.
Since a policeman can expect total deference, all it takes to legitimize a shoot to kill action is feeling threatened. The doors to playing God and/or cowboy are wide open. This legal derivation, perverted as is sounds, is no accident. It is a full reflection of American culture and mythology. Today’s shooting practices and incidents allow the police to tap into the imagery of the Lone-Ranger sheriff establishing justice in a lawless landscape.
In an international context of other civilized countries, though, U.S. practices are clearly outside the bounds of what is seen as legally permissible.
Eric Garner was street-executed by the NYPD on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. They were filmed on a bystander’s camera. There won’t be a trial.
An initial version of this post was corrected for factual accuracy.