Shortly after two St. Louis police officers shot and killed 25 year old African American Kajieme Powell on Tuesday, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said at a press conference that Powell had approached officers with a knife raised in an overhand grip, and was within three or four feet of them when they opened fire. The trouble is that Chief Dotson obviously didn’t know that someone had captured the entire episode on a cell phone camera.
I’ll warn you ahead of time that the video is disturbing. It clearly shows that Powell was maybe ten feet from the officers when they opened fire and that his hands were at his sides. I counted nine shots fired, at least two of them after Powell was already on the ground.
Could the police have used a Taser on Powell? Could they have shot him in the leg since he was allegedly wielding a knife and not brandishing a firearm? Could they have backed away and tried to talk him down? Of course they could have, but they didn’t. They showed up and promptly shot him, and they obviously shot to kill.
This has to stop, and people of color shouldn’t have to bear the burden of stopping it on their own. ColorOfChange.org is asking for our help in demanding a full investigation into the killing of Michael Brown, and they’re also soliciting funds to hire a police accountability organizer in the St. Louis area. My wife and I are going to send them $100.00. You should too.
And then we need to demand immediate transparency regarding police training curriculum all across America. What is being taught at the Academy? Shoot first, and shoot to kill?