Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alonzo Heyward of Chattanooga Tennessee

The Associated Press reports on the continuing controversy surrounding the killing of Alonzo Heyward by the Chattanooga police.

Alonzo Heyward carried a rifle around his low-rent neighborhood one day last month, ranting about suicide and ignoring the pleas of friends for hours before six Chattanooga police officers surrounded him on his front porch and decided it had to end.

His father says Heyward told the officers, "I'm not out here to hurt anybody."

But the police, who tried unsuccessfully to disarm Heyward, fired 59 rounds to kill him on July 18. The medical examiner found 43 bullet wounds in his chest, face, arms, hands, legs, buttocks and groin. Police contend Heyward was a danger to others and threatened the six officers.

Chattanooga police spokeswoman Jerri Weary described the case as "suicide by cop."

To me, this sounds quite excessive. I can understand the police acting with this kind of force after a hair-raising chase when the adrenalin his pumping, but this sounds different. This sounds like those cops were itching to blow him away. Even if Mr. Heyward pointed the rifle at them, 59 shots fired sounds like a lot. What do you think?

Heyward, a 32-year-old moving company employee, was black. The six officers are white. They were temporarily placed on administrative leave but have since returned to work.

What's your opinion? Was this a racially motivated shooting? Does "temporary administrative leave" and being returned to work sound about right to you?

Please leave a comment.


  1. What is considered excessive when you're defending your life? 5 shots? 10 shots? What is the magical number?

    Personally, i'd fire until I feel that the threat is sufficiently stopped. That might be one shot or an entire magazine. It depends on the situation.

  2. Yes, indeed, it depends on the situation. There is no magic number beyond which it's excessive, but ten shots each from six cops sounds like a bit much to me.

    What about the racial angle? Are you concerned that it might not have happened if the perp had been white?

  3. Total overkill. Do you know that if you shoot an intruder in your home more than twice that Prosecutors consider it overkill and charge you with the crime? Where was a negotiator and who was in charge? Wouldn't one in the leg bring him down? These cops were a frenzied mob firing toward a dwelling. And their boss thinks it is okay? The law suit was brilliant and kudos that it's not a local attorney. The only threat was suicide. Now, who in their right mind will be calling 911 for a civil resolution? Who condones this as normal police response? It's like a hit team. And the Chief seems proud. I posted the link to this story on my facebook it was so disturbing. I hope the jury does the right thing.

  4. Thanks NoExcuses. It sounds like you're right there where the action took place. Is that right?

    I tend to agree. Trigger-happy cops are a huge problem in America.