Here in Portland, OR, there has been a lot of talk lately about the police
force and how some officers handle themselves in confrontations with citizens.
There have been a few shooting deaths here recently, and many citizens
feel the police were too quick to fire their guns and that the deaths
were avoidable. The police contend the actions taken were in line with
police training. So far there is no general consensus, and relations between
some of the police and people of Portland are a bit shaky.
Well, it seems the story is the same in many areas across the nation. I
came across an article from the Bay Area about the shooting death of a
hospital patient by some sheriff’s deputies. The patient, an alcoholic,
was in the ER. He was suffering from symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and
had checked himself in.
A nurse placed the patient in soft wrist restraints because he kept trying
to pull out his IV line. A number of hours after checking himself in,
the patient tried to cut himself out of the restraints with a pocket knife
and allegedly made threatening motions with the pocket knife. The two
deputies who responded say they repeatedly commanded the patient to drop
the knife, but the patient did not comply. When the patient lunged toward
the deputies, they fired and killed him.
The children of the patient have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against
the deputies as well as Contra Costa County and the Sheriff’s Office.
The deputies defend their actions and say they acted in accordance with
their police training. An unfortunate death and a disconnect between police
training and the expectations of the community? Sounds a lot like Portland.
No matter which side you lean toward, it’s probably safe to say
that communication is key.