"Ready for dinner"
Another day, another story of police trigger-happines; another mentally ill person struck by police gunfire.
In Dallas this week, as Gawker noted, a 59-year-old man was behaving erratically and holding a knife when his mother called the cops. When the police arrived, as surveillance footage shows, they immediately draw their weapons. Bobby Gerald Bennett was shot four times while his hands were down by his sides. He is currently in intensive care. The Dallas Police Department is now conducting an internal review.
An eyewitness neighbor, Maurice Bunch, told local media:
“When the officers told him freeze, he complied.. He did not move an inch, in suspended animation; he just stood there, you know? Bobby was conscious, he knew exactly what he was doing because I had been talking to him prior.”
According to the press release issued by Dallas police Sgt. Warren Mitchell immediately after the shooting, Bennett “made statements indicating that he was not going to cooperate with the officers” and that “the incident escalated which led an officer to fire his weapon upon the individual.”
However, according to surveillance video captured by neighbor Maurice Bunch, Bennett was standing still during the entire incident and, when he was shot, his hands were down by his side.
As I noted late last year, and have reiterated since, an investigation by Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram found that more than half of people shot by police suffer from mental health issues. The study raised highlighted numerous examples, including the following, reminiscent of this week’s Dallas police shooting:
In Saginaw, Mich., six police officers gun down a homeless, schizophrenic man in a vacant parking lot when he refuses to drop a small folding knife. In Seattle, Wash., a police officer fatally shoots a mentally ill, chronic alcoholic as he crosses the street, carving a piece of wood with a pocket knife. In Portland, Ore., police check on a man threatening suicide and wind up killing him with a single gunshot in the back.
Footage of the Dallas shooting caught by the victim’s neighbor can be viewed below:
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.