Death by Police

A man has again been shot dead by police in New Mexico, just 10 days after police were embroiled in controversy regarding a separate police killing. Alfred Redwine was killed by officers after a frantic call by a woman claiming he had a child at gunpoint. Police have released footage in which voices of officers are heard asking the man to ‘put the gun down’, though no visual image of a gun is seen. A few shots attributed to the gun man are heard in the background before shots identified as coming from the police are heard. The killing comes just days after a previous killing of a man outside a hotel complex.

Footage showing a homeless James Boyd in New Mexico being shot by police left members of the public enraged on the 16th of March. James Boyd was sleeping in the Albuquerque foothills in Mid March when officers approached him about camping illegally in the area. Boyd reportedly suffered from mental illness and may have incensed officers by arguing with them for up to 3 hours about the legal restriction being implemented against his interests. He is said to have argued with police for up to 3 hours before being shown picking up his belongings and turning away, after which a ‘flash bang’ disorientating device was fired at him. Acts of this type by the police smack of an abuse of power prevalent in New Mexico. The police department is already the subject of a police investigation. Indiscretional killings by police are common place in New Mexico where officers are believed to exhibit an alarming level of recklessness and misjudgement with regards human life.

Killings by police are only legally defensible where there are genuine, reasonable, and legitimate grounds for police officers to apprehend danger. New Mexico attorney general , Gary King, said his officer will investigate the shooting and provide ‘an objective, unbiased external assessment’. The force are under heavy criticism for 3 6 shootings since 2010 and the presiding Mayor, Richard Berry, has asked the Lacraces Police department to join a five agency investigation into the shooting. Newly appointed police chief, Gorden Eden, claimed the police were under threat 10 days ago when they shot James Boyd previously. Yet he woefully failed to specify the nature of the threat nor inform the press as to whether all reasonable alternatives to the specific threat were exhausted before the shooting. He was stated to have the perfect mix of expertise and heart by the celebrated Mayor, Richard Berry, upon his placement in the post, but is now under some fire for the killing. Richard Berry himself condemned the killing on March 16 as ‘premature’ and a ‘mistake’.

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Berry who was formerly the chief executive officer of New Mexico and also twice elected into the New Mexico legislature has successfully worked to drop the crime rate to its lowest levels in 20 years and brought the city to the national forefront of transparency and accountability. His reproof of the killing lends credence to the widely perceived view that the killing was illegal and typical of the abuse of power that is widespread across many police departments in the world. Police killings viewed to constitute excessive abuse of power is nothing new in the Uk. In 2012 Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in Tottenham, london, in what infuriate locals in what sparked one of the worst riots in Britain. Duggan who was chased by a police car whilst in a taxi, was shot dead after allegedly on his way to avenge a killing. No gun was found on his person at the time of the shooting, though one was discovered 20 yards away. A jury later acquitted the officers and deemed the shooting legal, accepting account from the police that they reasonably apprehended danger. The killing was was widely seen as wrong by the public, but the British police have always escaped conviction on civilian killings.

An investigation for the recent police shooting in New Mexico is currently under way, though there isn’t much public confidence when it comes to investigations about police misconduct. Hopefully, Berry will reverse that trend by restoring some faith in the objectivity and integrity of the process through which police killings are scrutinised. Only time will tell.

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