Tag Archives: trauma surgeon

Violence in America

tamir rice

Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old boy who was playing in a Cleveland, Ohio park with a toy gun. Someone called 911 and reported that a “juvenile” was pointing a gun at passersby and that the gun was probably a toy. Two city police officers named Loehmann and Garmback arrived on the scene in separate cars. Critical information had NOT been related to them: they were not told that Tamir was a child, nor that Tamir appeared to be playing with a toy gun. It appears, however, that within two minutes of arriving on the scene Officer Loehmann had taken out his real gun, aimed, opened fire, and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

It is unclear to me how anyone, including a trained police officer, can assess a scene in under two minutes. It is unclear how a grown man can not recognize the difference between a child with a toy gun and a threatening adult. It is equally unclear to me how anyone with a conscience can ever again sleep at night after shooting a child to death. Yet two “independent experts” in police shootings stated that this police shooting was justified and/or reasonable.

In South Carolina, a female high-school student refused to leave the classroom, and security was called. The so-called “school resource officer,” Ben Fields, confronted the girl, grabbed her, and then turned over her desk with her in it, throwing her on the floor in the process. He then dragged her out of the classroom while choking her. Of course, everything was caught on a cell-phone video. Another student, who complained about her classmate’s treatment by calling out “Stop! What are you doing to her?” (or something along those lines), was then arrested for interfering. The security guard has since been fired – but was this the best way to handle a teenager?

America is simply too violent. It seems the only way we try to resolve a dispute is with a gun. Shoot first and asked questions later. It’s as if we live in the Wild, Wild West with Wyatt Earp and John Wesley Hardin, who once shot a man for snoring. Where is Wild Bill Hickok? We have to have a better way of resolving our differences.

Continue reading Violence in America

Another Black Man Gunned Down

Look, this is a problem in our society. For some reason (and we can argue the reason), black men are getting killed by police. I’m a trauma surgeon. I work for the police all the time. The folks with whom I work are very professional and seem to want to do the right thing all the time. There are, somehow, these folks in the police force that are, for a lack of a better word, cowboys.

Officer Michael Slager had several days to tell his story. Here’s what he was saying through his lawyer on Monday –

Slager thinks he properly followed all procedures and policies before resorting to deadly force, lawyer David Aylor said in a statement.

“When confronted, Officer Slager reached for his Taser — as trained by the department — and then a struggle ensued,” Aylor said. “The driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.”

Seconds later, the report added, he radioed that the suspect wrested control of the device. Even with the Taser’s prongs deployed, the device can still be used as a stun gun to temporarily incapacitate someone.

Slager “felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon,” his attorney added.

So, then the video comes out. He gets fired from the police force and indicted for murder. We need to fix this but we will only fix this problem when we stop the craziness and decide that shooting Americans is NOT acceptable.

Walter Scott was shot and killed by someone who was supposed to guard and protect us.

From Charles Blow:

This case has also refocused attention on the power of video evidence and is likely to redouble calls for the universal implementation of police body cameras (the video in this case came from a witness). What would have happened if video of this incident had not surfaced? Would the officer’s version of events have stood? How many such cases must there be where there is no video?

But I would argue that the issue we are facing in these cases is not one of equipment, or even policy, but culture.

I would submit that cameras would have an impact on policy and culture, but that a change in culture must be bigger than both. It must start with “good cops” no longer countenancing the behavior of “bad cops.” It will start with those good cops publicly and vociferously chastising and condemning their brethren when they are wrong. Their silence has never been — and is certainly no longer — suitable. We must hear from them, not necessarily from the rank-and-file but from those higher up the ladder.

What Ferguson tells us about America

Images from Ferguson

For the last two weeks, Ferguson, Missouri has been nightly entertainment. We have watched CNN, Fox News, MSNBC for the latest updates. Has the violence continued? Have peace and quiet been restored? What is wrong with those people in Ferguson? Could this happen here?

For two weeks, I have been avoiding the nightly news. I truly did not want to know what the latest update was. As a trauma surgeon, I hate loss of life. It is in my DNA. I hate it when someone needlessly gets gunned down in the streets. We saw that in Ferguson. We also saw it in the Trayvon Martin case.

In the United States there are several truisms. One of those truisms is that you simply don’t talk back to police. I was taught, growing up in the ’70s, that I needed to show police respect whether they deserved it or not. Why? Because that’s the way it is in the United States. My parents never explained it that way. But that’s the way it is. We can sit down and discuss the merits of the system and thoughtful ways of changing the system so the system works more for everybody, but the way the system is today… and the way it has been for more than 100 years, you must show police officers respect or there are dire consequences. Simply put, if you do not show police the respect that they, themselves want, you increase dramatically your chances of dying.  Continue reading What Ferguson tells us about America