Mikos Fabersunne: Shooting shows need for change
A distressed mother of two young children — now orphaned — who was functioning on the financial edge of society and had been fearful that law enforcement would take her kids from her, was hit at least twice from five shots fired by one of the two Nevada County sheriff’s officers who had responded to the call, while her children watched. Neither officer was wearing a body camera.
Where was the sheriff’s Mobile Crisis Unit that includes a therapist specifically trained to de-escalate situations involving those with behavioral or mental health issues?
Why hadn’t the sheriff procured the body cameras with the funding obtained in 2018 specifically for that purpose? Why did one sheriff’s officer use lethal force to take down the 5 foot 2 white woman when department personnel are issued tactical vests to protect them from knives and are equipped with pepper spray, tasers and batons they can use first?
We don’t have these answers yet, but on its face the culture and structure of law enforcement reflect the search-and-destroy regimen of enemy combat — hunt ‘em down, shoot to kill, and never mind the circumstances, the “crime,” or the consequences.
Typically protected from criminal prosecution by the district attorney, coupled with the qualified immunity defense that prevents civil penalties for malicious or reckless behavior by police, we have a confluence of excuses that work by design to shield law enforcement — beat cop to DA — from accountability. Time after time after time, the same outcomes, the same excuses.
It should be obvious by now from the accounts of the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and numerous other Black people that our systems of law enforcement and justice must be overhauled, reinvented or replaced by something more humane, capable of discerning the nature of the problem being faced, the degree of threat presented and the type of response required.
But until we recognize that our present economic and political systems dramatically favor and protect the wealthy and the powerful, we will continue to see law enforcement treat poor, Black, indigenous, and people of color as the problem and whom should be dealt with brutally and without compassion.
Mikos Fabersunne, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Nevada County Peace and Justice Center.
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