The LAPD is once again in the spotlight with the release of a recent video showing nearly a dozen officers using tasers, bean bag shots (fired from a shotgun), and physical force on a wheelchair-bound man late last week. It’s unclear which officers used what means of ‘non-lethal’ force, but the question being asked now is, “Was it too much?” According to the Los Angeles Times:
The man, identified by police as Christopher Adam Zareck, 43, was treated at a nearby hospital and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. [LAPD Commander Andrew] Smith said the extent of Zareck’s injuries was unknown, but included a head wound that occurred during the initial altercation with the business district worker.
The video shows 10 officers clustered about five to 10 feet away from the man in the wheelchair. Three shots ring out and the man, still seated, kicks his legs in the air and screams. The officers move in and appear to subdue the man, who is taken away by ambulance.
Hubert Jackson, a homeless skid row resident, made the video and turned it over to the Los Angeles Community Action Network, which released it Monday.
Jackson said he saw police talking to a man in the middle of the block, which was cordoned off by officers, and began recording the scene on his cellphone.
“I hear a shot, then a second shot, and I hear the victim yelling in pain, as if gargling over something. Then there’s a second pause and a third shot,” Jackson said.
The deadly weapon charge is derived from police claims that Zareck held a pole and had swung it at them. Yet eyewitness accounts, including that of the man who recorded the video above, have been unable to verify such a claim. Of course the police stated they take any claim of excessive force seriously and will investigate the matter fully. Which is nearly laughable since Smith has stated that, “They [police officers] couldn’t get close because he had the pole.” Laying the foundation for justified use of force long before an honest investigation ever begins.
This clearly isn’t the worst case of abuse or excessive force for the LAPD. Yet it highlights two very concerning trends with police that are becoming more and more common: Escalation of nearly all interactions and lack of patience (or knowledge) when dealing with people who have mental needs. Instead of attempting to talk to the man, the LAPD resorted to bean bags and taser guns? Why, because they didn’t have an additional 15 minutes to talk the man down, or just one taser didn’t work? Or maybe waiting for an opportunity to remove the pole from him – if there was a pole – might have been better, huh?
Sadly, we live in a world where the police show up and all logic goes out the window. In situations with the police where most believe no one would go to jail, the police take everyone to jail. When you call the police for help, they show up and kill someone. When “less-than- lethal” options are still options, they use lethal force anyway. There is no rhyme to their reason other than “this is what a police state looks like.”