Well, there’s a shooting of a man by the police that was actually caught on video–in its entirety.
Warning: The video is graphic in nature as it shows a man being shot.
Yes, the man had a knife. Yes, he started to walk towards the police. Yes, he put himself in a bad situation because of all of this.
But no, the response by the police was not justified.
The man seemed as though he had some sort of mental issues going on, but it was clear that the people around him didn’t feel all that threatened (they were joking about the situation). The presence of the police clearly agitated him, so that did create a threat. However, not all threats warrant lethal responses. The police could have just as easily retreated and advised the bystanders to clear the area because the situation appeared to worsen. They could have called in for backup, which should have included people more properly trained to deal with people with mental issues.
It’s not like the police were driving to the scene and thinking, “Let’s kill this guy.” The problem, however, is that they know that they can act in ways that you and I cannot. If I did the same thing the police did here, I would be thrown in prison for quite a long time. But the police get a pass.
This is the systemic problem: although much of the police may have good intentions, the knowledge that they’re given the benefit of the doubt (and a huge one at that) and that they won’t be held accountable the same way non-officers would creates a bad incentive system. Instead of erring on the side of the non-violent response and making sure they are acting justly, they become more likely to act rashly, shooting first and asking questions later.