Amnesty blasts US on deadly force by police

Amnesty International said June 18 that all 50 US states fall below international standards on police use of lethal force. The report indicates that many states have no regulation on police use of lethal force or ones that fall below international standards. UN principles on the use of lethal force limit force to "unavoidable instance in order to protect life after less extreme means have failed," but the majority of states do not require police to use less-violent means before lethal force nor do they require them to identify their intent to use lethal force. The report also indicated that 13 US states fall below the United States' own constitutional standards established in Tennessee v. Garner, which states that police may not use deadly force to prevent a suspect from escaping "unless the officer believes that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others." An investigation revealed that 522 people have been killed by police this year. Those statistics also indicate Black people were twice as likely as white people to be unarmed during the encounter.

Racial tension has recently mounted in the US following several police killings of unarmed Black men. in January Judge Edgar Dickson of the South Carolina Circuit Court declared a mistrial in the murder case against a former police chief for the 2011 killing of an unarmed Black man. After a grand jury decided not to indict the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who last year shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American youth, there was a large uproar from the Ferguson community that led to mass protests and violence in some instances. The case had reached international news with AI reporting human rights abuses by Ferguson police in late October. In early October, a federal judge ruled that the police tactics used on #BlackLivesMatter protesters was unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction. The American Civil Liberties Union also published a report arguing that increased militarization of police forces is putting citizens at risk rather than protecting them.

From Jurist, June 19. Used with permission.