Lyndarius Cortez Witherspoon was killed after the Tulepo police chased him into an apartment complex, blocked his vehicle and shot him. According to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Lyndarius had opened fire on an officer during the chase and died from a gunshot wound sustained during the shootout.
Witherspoon was suspected of killing Alexandra Caldwell, who had been shot early Saturday morning. When officers recognized his license plate and tried to stop him, a chase started. The police said that Witherspoon shot at them during the chase and died from gunshot wounds sustained during the engagement. It was never stated who shot first, the police or Witherspoon.
Some say only guilty people run but trying to evade armed gang members might just be self-preservation to others. After all there are countless examples of people being killed or brutalized for no reason, their lives ended or altered forever. Others say that the officers acted in self-defense and everyone has the right to defend themselves from an imminent and life threatening threat. This may be true but more often than not it’s the overzealous officers who end up placing themselves in these situations and Witherspoon was only a suspect in his girlfriend’s death.
If Witherspoon happened to be innocent of the murder of his girlfriend, not only did the police kill an innocent man and violate his due process rights, the real killer is still out there. If Witherspoon actually murdered of Alexandra Caldwell, he is innocent until proven guilty and the police do not get to act as judge, jury and executioner handing out death sentences in apartment complex parking lots.
This is a serious problem within the culture of law enforcement, officers escalate situations until they have to use lethal force or disregard the escalation of force entirely and move straight to lethal force without prejudice and as a result innocent people have been hurt or killed and countless others have been denied their right to due process.
Due process is not a new idea and is one of the most important pieces of any just legal system. One of the strongest historical examples of the importance of an individuals right to due process is the Weimer Republic, or pre WWII Germany. Individuals were to be informed, within 24 hrs, of the reason for their arrest and regardless of race sex or religion were to be treated equally under the law. Night raids were also frowned upon, without good cause, as the home was considered a sanctuary and not to be disturbed by the state.
If just these two principles were implemented and respected within the current law enforcement paradigm, it would change the face of modern policing entirely and for the better. No more military style night raids where heavily armed soldiers conduct home invasions armed with assault rifles. No more policing in the style of “you can beat the rap, but you cant beat the ride”. Detention centers such as Homan Square would never exist and the atrocities committed within would never have been suffered.