Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters somberly at a press conference that “any one of us” in the department would “gladly have traded places with that boy.” Nice sentiment, sheriff, but I really doubt any of the deputies in question would have actually taken Kameron’s bullet for him. The reason they unloaded their weapons at Jones was precisely because they are so afraid of being shot they’d kill an unarmed woman without hesitation, and not worry about innocent bystanders either.
The point is, cops and sheriff’s deputies should know that a trailer doesn’t offer much protection against a bullet. A standard-issue police .45-calibre projectile will tear right through the light tin of such a structure and thus pose a grave risk to anyone who might be inside.
The deputies should have assumed immediately that it was possible there might be people inside. That is or should be a key part — actually the key part — of their job: Protecting the public. They failed miserably at that.
They just blew the perp away, and they blew away an innocent six-year-old child along with her.
Sheriff Salazar placed the four deputies who killed Jones and little Kameron on five days’ suspension, but he also told reporters, “In my opinion it’s a tragic accident that led to the death of this young man (sic). We are looking into all of it. Internal Affairs is still investigating it. But again preliminarily it appears that policies and procedures [on use of deadly force] were complied with.”
First of all let’s get one thing straight, Sheriff Salazar, Kameron is not, and now never will be a “young man.” He was a six-year-old little boy, and that’s the way he should be described as we examine at what happened.
Secondly, if this sorry chase and slaughter was done by the book, as you say, with all Sheriff’s Department policies “complied with,” then those policies you have in your department on use of force need to be scrapped and completely redrawn.
I am sick to death of reading about innocent people, and especially young kids, dying because some “brave hero” cop “feared for his life” or thought someone “might” have a gun. Then the story is always the same: the cops fight to keep their jobs, and the investigation ends up clearing them. (When have we seen a cop who kills an innocent person, especially a child, through carelessness or cowardice come forward and say he or she is quitting the force because of doing something awful?)
The primary goal of a police office should be protecting human life. You can’t do that if you’re shooting up a trailer without knowing for sure that it’s empty — especially if the person you’re shooting at doesn’t even have a gun to threaten you with.
But I’d go further. If the four deputies who had cornered the late Amanda Jones hadn’t been so quick on the trigger, they could have stayed back at a safe distance, spread out to prevent her from running again, and tried to talk her down, meanwhile getting a chance to check out exactly how threatening she might be. That would have also enabled at least one of the officers to get to an angle where, if she did somehow manage to pull that nonexistent gun out of her waistband, he’d have been able to get a shot off at her from an angle that wouldn’t have put people inside the trailer at risk (and maybe taking the time to try and wound instead of kill her). Either way little Kameron would at least still have a chance to grow into a young man.
Some people, I know, are going to argue that you cannot second guess a cop in situation like this, but I disagree. The problem is that cops are given a blank check to fire their weapons if they “feel threatened.” That’s not the standard we should be using.
Too many innocents, including children, are dying on the basis of it.
Police should stick with “protect and serve.” Their guns should only be used as a last, not first resort, and then only if there is no risk posed to innocents. If someone cannot operate under those conditions, he or she should look for a different career.