Yes, it happens all the time: recently surfaced is a September 2013 video of Palm Beach police chasing Dontrell Stephens on a bike.
When he gets off the bike and apparently starts making a cell phone call, he gets shot down by Deputy Adams Lin.
Stephens was unarmed. He's still alive, but paralyzed from the waist down now.
The aftermath of this police attack on Dontrell Stephens, in a version of the story reported by ABC 15 in Arizona:
For approximately four seconds Stephens is out of frame only to be seen again when being shot four times.
Stephens, who is black and has a criminal record for possessing cocaine, is seen running from the bullets then dropping to the ground…..
A short time later, an admittedly shaken Deputy Lin is heard talking to another deputy.
"He starts backing away," Lin explains. "I said, 'Get on the ground, get on the ground."
Then, the other deputy is heard saying, "I got your back man. I got your back. Hey, you hear me?"
Deputy Lin responds, "Yeah, I know."
Oh, most officers know that full well.
At the time, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said this in defense of the shooting:
"Stop what you're doing and comply with us," he told reporters. "There's nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed."
Read that one over and think about it.
Lin was cleared to return to work four days later. Months later, investigators from the State Attorney's Office and PBSO ruled the shooting justified.
Stephens' is now suing the sheriff and the deputy and his attorney insists Lin lied about the circumstances. While the police car radio in the dash video is loud, I can hear later things Lin says but could not hear any commands to Stephens:
West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola…says he discovered issues with the deputy's statements after requesting and viewing all the video and audio recordings from the incident.
"There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens," explained Scarola.
"The deputy's recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence," he said.
The raw video:
Some other of far, far too many Reason clips on police shootings.
I stress this a lot, because it always seems important. We have far too many stupid reasons for police/citizen interactions to happen to begin with. What was the reason for Lin's near-fatal encounter with Stephens?
According to the local Palm Beach Post, Stephens was riding his bike the wrong way. What that even means is by no means clear from the video, but it's bullshit. From tickets to court date to shootings, the petty reasons cops have to try to detain/talk to us need to be way curtailed.
It darkly amuses me that a often a majority of news reports on such incidents don't bother to mention whatever reason/excuse there was for the awful police/citizen encounters to have happened at all, as if it's natural that if a cop sees us moving through the world he can start an interaction with us, one in which if we alarm him in any way he can just shoot us. After all, as Sheriff Bradshaw says, why should a cop who has chosen to bother you "have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is"?
See me writing on Tampa police abusive use of bike law to harass, though luckily not shoot, citizens.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.