Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cop shoots unarmed teenager

No, the 14-year-old shouldn't have been breaking into a temporary building at a local middle school. He certainly shouldn't have been taking electronic equipment out of the classroom. When the officer told him to stop, he should have stopped.

But he didn't deserve to get shot.

Unfortunately that's what happened in the early morning hours on Tuesday. A young boy is in critical condition with a bullet wound to the chest because a Pasadena school district police officer pulled out his gun and panicked.

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You just gotta love how the reporter felt compelled to tell us that the officer was okay after shooting the kid. We certainly mustn't do anything to piss off the powers that be who might be watching our early morning "news" cast.

And just why do we allow school districts to have police departments? There's already an over-proliferation of police in Harris County. We have the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Harris County Constable's Office, the Houston Police Department, police departments in Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park and Jacinto City. There are police departments in bedroom communities such as Bellaire, Spring Valley, Southside Place and West University. The two main universities in Houston both have police departments. METRO has its own police department. The Port of Houston and the Medical Center both have departments. And so do most of the school districts in and around the city: Houston, Spring Branch, Cy-Fair, Klein, Spring and Pasadena.

On a weekend run I might see cars from three or four different law enforcement agencies in Spring Branch alone.

The officer who shot the child said that he was in fear for his safety when he pulled the trigger. He also said the child was clutching a backpack when he refused to stop. Now which was it? If the child was clutching a backpack with both hands he didn't have a gun drawn.

There was no reason for the officer to have his gun out of its holster. A police officer is trained in the use of escalating force. The use of deadly force is a last resort and it is not used to prevent a suspect from running. Deadly force is only to be used when the officer has a reasonable belief that his life may be in danger. It's not enough to have a hunch.

This is not to excuse the actions of the teen. But stealing some computer equipment hardly merits a bullet in the chest. I'm certain I'll receive a flood of e-mail telling me how wrong I am to criticize a police officer in his use of deadly force. I'm sure I'll receive anonymous comments telling me that the officer who shot the kid is a really good guy.

So what. He shot an unarmed 14-year-old in the chest. I have absolutely no sympathy for that. He was a trained law enforcement officer with 17 years experience, six with the Pasadena school district. He knew better.

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