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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Troubling Police Questions

by Queen Moore (Class of 2011)
Once in a while you’ll hear of a policeman accidentally gunning down a victim in Boston or New York, but no one would have suspected it to occur in our neighborhood.

Meant to be a warrant-oriented arrest of a suspected cocaine dealer, this home invasion ended in an unplanned and unjust way. Officer Paul Duncan, a member of the Framingham SWAT team, is accussed of killing an unarmed elderly man by the name of Eurie Stamps Sr., grandfather to the suspect. This occurance has caused many questions, and people want answers. Three months  after what would be called a homicide, the police had an answer, the officer tripped.

An eruption of anger and disbelief boomed through the comments of MetrowestDailyNews.com and the streets. Civlians were unable to believe such a story and asked so many questions that a cyber fight errupted. The article stated “after Officer Duncan had entered the Bushfan home, he saw Stamps and yelled for him to put his hands up and get on the ground. Stamps did as he was told and laid slowly on the ground, when (sic) Duncan went over to search and arrest him, he tripped backwards, let go of the trigger, and tried to catch himself with his left hand.”
He than stated, “I heard a gun go off, and I realized I was ontop of Stamps and Stamps was bleeding” as told by Metrowestdailynews.com. As soon as he noticed he yelled “man down, man down” and the ambulance which had arrived with the SWAT team entered and transported Stamps to Metrowest Medical Center, where he died.

However, some state that if it weren’t for the boys selling illegal drugs from Stamp’s street, then Stamps would be alive. Others say something isn’t right. Why was the ambulance with the SWAT team? Were they expected to protect by any means necessary, thought of by some to be code. And another question that everyone on the websites comments seemed to ask was, why was the SWAT team brought in?

Each of these questions have been answered in a broad way. The police department states  that the SWAT team was used to help with the warrant, and that they had heard these kids were affliated with gangs who were known for carrying firearms; no evidence of either has been reported. Police also say that the ambulance was there because they were expecting the worst, but it was the SWAT team  who had  inflicted the worst. They  entered breaking down the door and windows with deadly force, even though Joseph Bushfan, the main perpatrator, had been arrested a couple minutes earlier.

Radley Balko from Reason.com reports that “If in all the commotion of the raid it was Stamps (who no one suspects was involved in any criminal activity) who accidentally shot and killed Duncan, I don't think there's any doubt he'd be facing a felony charge,” which is ultimately true. Framingham Police aren’t handling this accident with the seriousness it deserves. They exemplify this by giving Duncan a paid leave and launching an investigation months after the occurrence.

Others say if Duncan was trained as a SWAT member he should know all the incidents that could possibly happen if his gun were to fall, or the precautions to take if the invasion site was a messy area.

This story regenerates memories of  Rev. Accelyne Williams, who was 75 years old when a SWAT team was misinformed and attempted to raid his house. They busted through his door without a warrant or knocking, looking for drugs and weapons. Because of the overwhelming and brutal event and handcuffing, Rev. Williams had a heart attack and died.

The NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) recently has sued the NYPD because they refused to release racial information of victims’ accidental killed police shootings. NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman states “This new data will help us give New Yorkers the full story on police shootings, not the NYPD’s spin.”

New Yorkers are seeking answers.“Americans don't have the precise number of people killed by the police, and the number of times police use excessive force” as stated by Commondream.org.

James Fyfe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University who is a former New York City police lieutenant, has also stated that police do not release information on these situations because “the figures are very embarrassing to a lot of police departments.” The worst part is that some police stations fail to record data at all, and have missing records from the late 1980’s and even today.

Suspicion is arising that police officers aren’t being trained as well as they used to be. This problem appears to be statewide situation, yet some of these shootings are seen as justifiable. Some gruesome stories have heightened questions about whether police officers, in small towns and larger cities, are properly trained about when to — and not to — use deadly force.

 For instance, in late August a police officer shot and killed a man after he mistook the man’s cigarette lighter for a gun. And soon after that in Detroit, Michigan, a deaf and mute man wielding a rake was shot to death.

25 percent of all law enforcement shootings involve unarmed suspects, stated aclu.org in 2006. As a nation we entrust our policeman to keep the cities and towns safe. I’ve often heard that police are here to protect by any means necessary, but if any means; means killing unarmed and unrelated victims, then it isn’t necessary.