The paper delineates and evaluates Eric Garner and Michael Brown Cases as well as unwarranted and excessive use of force. Garner was killed due to selling untaxed cigarettes while Michael Brown was a suspected robber. In both cases, the targeted were unarmed, and I think a re-evaluation of the use by the police force. Two different viewpoints persist in each of the cases. In the Garner case, he had been unable to breathe and choked to death. I think that the officers had no right to punish him with death because a man drinking and driving has no intention to kill others, and his killing is not justified. There is no national policy on the globe regarding the use of force by police under these circumstances. So, I believed that it is the duty of the judiciary to pronounce penalties. Few examples can be quoted in defense like Supreme Court of England has restricted the use of force. Staten Island defense attorney also has the opinion for minimum use of the police force like in the case of Akai Gurley, who killed a Blackman. The counter argument also persists to the topic. Self-affirmation theory can be employed in case of Brown who scared police officer in self-defense. In Missouri, the law permits the use of force as per theory of necessity to protect public. All things considered; there should be adequate laws promulgated by states to regulate the use of force by police keeping in view humanitarian aspect.
Eric Garner and Michael Brown Cases are to be addressed in debates and media till today. Eric Garner aged 34 had been working as a horticulturist with a New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. When he died of choking his breath by a cop on suspicion of his selling untaxed cigarettes. He was arrested due to selling cigarettes without tax stamps. He was annoyed due to the continuous harassments meted out to him by the police. However, two police officers present on the scene decided to arrest him. One of the police officers, Daniel Pantaleo, caught him by the neck and compressed it so hard that Garner could not breathe, and died. The medical report in this connection attributed neck compression along with chest compression and prone positioning while restraining him physically for the murder of Eric (“Death of Eric Garner”).
On the other hand, the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18 year black man, took place on a trivial issue of walking on the road. Brown was walking on the mid of the road along with a friend when he was intercepted. He was asked by a white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, to move on the sidewalk. Brown was suspected to have committed a robbery of a box of cigarillos having worth of $48 in a convenience store. An altercation ensued between the two, and Wilson fired around twelve rounds from his service revolver, eight of which hit Brown all on the front side of the body (“Shooting of Michael Brown”).
Public perception of these cases as highhanded actions of the police led to violent protests all over the country and abroad. However, the police department justified police action as necessary. Hence, I believed that re-evaluation of the use of force by police is necessary, and conditions should be specified under which force could be used. I think that the use of force and the quantum of force to be applied should be critically evaluated.
In the case of Eric Garden, it is alleged that he resisted arrest, and was choked to death. While in Michael Brown case, Brown being a robbery suspect and not complying with the police officer’s dictate, was done to death. The facts of circumstances were recorded with a video camera in the first case. While in the second scenario, the interception, the altercation, the shooting and the resultant death took place in less than 90 seconds. In both cases, the accused and the suspect was unarmed. I assume that in both cases, the police highhandedness is palpable. Naturally, both the incidents evoked violent as well as peaceful civil unrest throughout the country of occurrence and even abroad. These happening gave rise to widespread public debate over the use of force by the police.
Two different views are doing the rounds in each of the cases. In the Eric Garner case, Eric- a wretched fellow leading a difficult life protested being handcuffed. Nothing could be more inhuman than the man conveying he had been unable to breathe was choked to death (Vanderstaay, 2005). I think that the officers had no right to punish him with death. It was nothing short of recklessness and murder. They may not have the intention to kill him. A man drinking and driving has no intention to kill or cause injury to others. But on his killing someone, his action cannot be justified on this ground (Campos et al., 2013).
The scenario of Michael Brown case is a little different as Darren Wilson apprehended threat to his life although it could not sufficiently be substantiated. Michael Brown was suspected to be a robber, and later on; it proved to be true. He was walking on the mid of the road and on being accosted refused to bulge. Brown being strong scared Wilson, and he fired in self-defense as per Self-affirmation theory (Sherman & Cohen, 2006). However, I think that pumping seven or eight bullets cannot be explained as Brown might have been incapacitated after a few shots, all on the front. Also, as per eyewitnesses he surrendered by raising his hands up. As per my opinion, in this case, police could have desisted from awarding the suspects capital punishment for which police were not authorized. I believed that it is the duty of the judiciary to pronounce penalties, and I am pretty sure neither would have been handed death sentence in the light of their crimes (Parloff, 2014).
Hence, it is the need to re-evaluate the use of force by police; under what circumstances, and to what extent. As an example, I quote the incident of shooting a 17-year-old teenage driver who refused to exit the car. The police officer just issued a warning before firing at him. As per experts on the matter, the use of excessive force against an unarmed but non-cooperative person should be the last resort. Sitting back and waiting for some moments can help understand why the person is resisting, opined Chris Burbank, the Salt Lake Police Chief. No national policy regarding the use of force by police under the circumstances is there in any country. Each country interprets the situation differently. According to the Supreme Court of England, the use of force should be restricted to the facts and circumstances (Rice, 2014)
As per a Staten Island defense attorney, the threshold for use of force by police is too low in the New York State. When a private citizen has reasons to feel threatened, the use of force against him should be based on the perceived danger from him, he added. He was declared to the fatal shooting of a black man unarmed namely Akai Gurley by a rookie officer in the Brooklyn public housing tower. He commented that the use excessive force was uncalled for (Bashan, 2014). Hence, there is the need to have a re-look at the use of force by police.
The argument hovers around the suffered, but there are counter views to the topic. In Missouri, the law justifies the use of strict force if it is immediately necessary to protect people, effect arrests, prevent escape from custody, or such other circumstances (Binder & Scharf, 1982). Police have to protect human lives, and has every right to take such measures and force as is necessary for the same (Achim, 2014). There is a minor difference between the perceived threat being trivial and serious. The scholars have of opinion of equivalency between threat assessment and objectives of power (Sears, Huddy & Jervis, 2003). A police officer has to decide the action on the spur of the moment, and any circumspection may prove detrimental to the human lives (Binder & Scharf, 1982; Bashan, 2014).
Conclusively, both the incidents relating to the choking to death of Eric Garner as well as shooting of Michael Brown by the use of sheer force evoke sympathy for the sufferers. In both cases, the targets of fatal force were unarmed and deserved better treatment. The unwarranted and excessive use of force under the circumstances impels those in authority to re-evaluate the threshold limit of use of brutal force. There should be appropriate and adequate laws promulgated by states to regulate the use of force by police. No doubt, police have the responsibility of maintaining social order and protecting human lives. However, there is a humanitarian aspect to all police action, and that should not be lost sight of. There have been other instances of excessive force used by police that have been decried and derided by humanitarian groups. Hence, the use of force has to be reasonable based on the facts of the circumstances.
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