On Sunday, the Washington Post ran a lengthy story about police shootings in the USA thus far this year. Fatalities are now 385, about twice a day–and those are only the fatalities (if someone is shot and is crippled or is on life support, that’s not part of this tally).
The most troubling cases began with a cry for help.
About half the shootings occurred after family members, neighbors or strangers sought help from police because someone was suicidal, behaving erratically or threatening violence.
Take Shane Watkins, a 39-year-old white man, who died in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Ala.
Watkins had never been violent, and family members were not afraid for their safety when they called Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies in March. But Watkins, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was off his medication. Days earlier, he had declared himself the “god of the fifth element” and demanded whiskey and beer so he could “cleanse the earth with it,” said his sister, Yvonne Cote.
Then he started threatening to shoot himself and his dog, Slayer. His mother called Cote, who called 911. Cote got back on the phone with her mother, who watched Watkins walk onto the driveway holding a box cutter to his chest. A patrol car pulled up, and Cote heard her mother yell: “Don’t shoot! He doesn’t have a gun!”
“Then I heard the gunshots,” Cote said.
Lawrence County sheriff’s officials declined to comment and have refused to release documents related to the case.
Read the whole thing. Excellent reporting.
Note that it’s a private institution that’s gathered this important information together, not the government itself.