Ma’Khia Bryant: Police training & alternate outcomes when a Police Officer does nothing
The killing of Ma’Khia Bryant has triggered a huge debate on police brutality. Several people are debating the use of force by the police and what alternatives could the officer have taken instead of shooting Ma’Khia multiple times. Now, police training experts are weighing in on the alternative outcomes that could have occurred had the officer done nothing.
What could have happened had the officer done nothing in Ma’Khia Bryant’s case?
After news of Ma’Khia Bryant’s killing broke out, there were several people calling for at least a change in police officers’ training so that guns are not the “final answer to every threat”. And retired Columbus Division of Police officer of 33 years James Scanlan had his say on that. Scanlan also spent 19 years in the SWAT team and now trains police officers. He says that even though officers carry less-lethal weapons, such as tasers, mace, and batons, their training trains them to use lethal weapons when time and distance allow them. He told NBC4i:
[This was] what we call a lethal situation. It’s not the time to say, ‘Let’s try mace’ or ‘Let’s try a taser’ — no police officer is trained in that to do that. They are trained to stop the threat in a life-and-death situation, whether the threat be against them or against another person. It was certainly not an option to do anything less lethal. The officer could have done nothing, and I’m not sure who would have been upset by that today, except for the women who would have been stabbed or maybe killed, and maybe their family.
Scanlan believes that had the officer not taken action, the women that Ma’Khia Bryant was stabbing would have been severely affected. He also said that the US constitution and Supreme Court set the legal standards in court cases. And those laws say that an officer is justified in using lethal force when his life or anyone else’s life is in danger. He continued:
That use of force has to be reasonable, not to everybody, but to another police officer who has been in those situations before. And what they recognize is that these situations are so chaotic and quickly evolving…We can’t just take a time out… and see if I can do this or whatever, because by the time you do that, someone is dead.
More officers are dying due to their inaction, says Scanlan
Police brutality is a real issue in the United States, with more such cases majorly affecting the African American community. And many people are saying Ma’Khia Bryant is a victim of such a case. However, Scanlan thinks that due to officers’ hesitation in taking action these days, we’re seeing “more officers being shot now”. Moreover, officers don’t get penalized in case of not taking any action, as Scanlan continued:
I think you’re probably going to see more civilians shot by other people because officers hesitate. I think it’s being drilled into them, you should hesitate. So not only will they avoid these kinds of situations, they’ll try not to get there first. That doesn’t serve the public well, in my opinion. I think the officers are morally obligated to step in and if they can’t act the way this officer acted yesterday. they should leave the job because they are putting people at risk.
After watching Ma’Khia Bryant’s video, people often wonder if in such situations, do officers shoot to kill or to injure? Scanlan explained that it’s neither. He continued:
No, neither one. You are legally allowed to shoot to stop that action that is causing the threat of death to another person. You shoot to stop that action, to neutralize that action. Once that action has stopped you stop shooting. But you don’t wing them, you don’t shoot them in the finger — that’s television stuff. That is not the law.
What do you think of Scanlan’s comments? With such training and in such a peculiar scenario, should the officer have hesitated before shooting Ma’Khia Bryant? That too at the cost of the lives of two other Black women? Was this an incident of police brutality and racism against Black Americans? And how should the Black Lives Matter movement address this incident? Let us know in the comments below.