I’ve been thinking about and grieving the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, who was killed by a police office in Columbus, Ohio, hours after the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced. The video shows her to be violent, brandishing a knife. What I fail to understand is how this in itself should lead to the 16-year-old’s death. The police officer used his gun to subdue, kill, the girl because it was the weapon he had readily at his disposal.
There must be a better way for police officers to deal with situations like this. First of all, there’s the knee-jerk response from a white person to a Black person out of control. Secondly, there’s the imperative to “fix” the problem definitively instead of pausing for what would be a more reasonable solution. Both of these could be addressed by better training and fundamental changes in the police culture.
The resources available for subduing a violent individual are another matter. Reliance on guns is unfortunately the common denominator of American policing. I would rather police officers use a low-tech control device like a net thrown over the individual rather than escalating immediately to a deadly weapon. This works for out-of-control animals. Some might say that people shouldn’t be treated like animals, but isn’t it preferable to shooting them dead?