Thursday, August 8, 2013

Non-Lethal Weapons Are Lethal Weapons

In a recent incident involving a stun gun, the police apparently killed an eighteen year old:

Miami Beach police say an 18-year-old died after being shocked with a stun gun as he resisted arrest for spraying graffiti.

Chief Ray Martinez told the Miami Herald that officers spotted Israel Hernandez-Llach painting graffiti on an abandoned fast-food restaurant early Tuesday. Martinez said the teen ran, but was eventually cornered. He said Hernandez-Llach then ran at the officers and one shot him with a Taser in the chest. The teen went into medical duress and died at a hospital.

This story makes me wonder: are police officers using more of these dangerous weapons because of their alleged non-lethal aspect? I don't know whether or not the use of the stun gun was justified in this case, however, if the cop had pulled a gun, would people express outrage?

The fact is, I doubt the cop would have pulled a gun on the kid for committing vandalism, unless the kid pulled a knife or gun. But given the supposed reputation of a stun gun being non-lethal, the cop had no trouble pulling it in the face of an unarmed teen running toward him.

I think that law enforcement needs to treat all weapons they carry, non-lethal or otherwise, as deadly weapons with specific uses. If these police officers had done so, then perhaps this kid would be alive and merely paying a fine for his property crime.