Yesterday, I watched the very disturbing video of the FBI shooting a white man, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who was one of the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The Oregon State Police has, of course, ruled that shooting Finicum was justified. I have also seen video of other police shootings that were called justified–a black youngster playing in a park with a toy gun; an unarmed black man running away from a policeman during a traffic stop; a black man getting shot while he reached into his car to retrieve his registration as ordered by the policeman. I always have been a staunch supporter of law enforcement, but something needs to change.
When deadly force is used, it should be used as a last resort. I know that there are going to be thousands saying, “Yeah, but these policemen put their lives on the line everyday. They don’t know when someone is going to actually shoot. So any threat of that requires that the policeman shoot to kill.” In some cases, I agree. In others, I disagree. Taking a life should be the last resort. If the video I saw on Finicum is accurate, Finicum told the FBI that he was going to see the Sheriff and that they could come along, but that he was going to see the Sheriff. A chase ensued. Finicum tried to go around a police barricade, stalled in the snow, got out of the truck, and was summarily shot to death.
The policy of “If you shoot, shoot to kill” needs to be modified. Shooting needs to be accompanied by good judgment. In this country, policing has gotten out of hand, ie. door to door searches without warrants, aka Boston. The Washington Post reported last week about several police break-ins against innocent people because they had gotten the wrong information. The IRS, Education Department, Social Security, and who knows what other unconstitutional government agency have fully equipped police forces. Most of the time when one of these “police” forces does the wrong thing, ruins someone’s life for a time, or takes a life, it is always coldly justified. The result of the government’s absolute power.
These are types of examples that lead to a police state. Policy needs to be reviewed. Death should be the last resort. Making martyrs of criminals doesn’t compute with the law abiding. But most can understand a police state. It is one thing to shoot to kill in self defense. It is another to asses a situation and determine deadly force as a last resort. The more deadly force is used, and the more it is justified, the more commonplace it becomes. There needs to be balance between when an officer’s or an innocent’s life is truly threatened and when it is not. A blanket shoot to kill policy doesn’t fit all situations. The Lord said in Zechariah 7:9, “Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother.” Criminals get what they get, but we need to be just in doing it. A death penalty without trial is not always just.
By Bill Wilson