Wednesday, March 24, 2010

L.A. Police Shoot and Kill Unarmed Man

The Associated Press reports on the involvement of the ACLU in a tragic shooting that took place in Los Angeles.

A fatal weekend police shooting of an unarmed man who family members say was autistic prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on Monday to urge the Los Angeles Police Department to re-examine its policies.

Steven Eugene Washington was shot by gang enforcement officers Allan Corrales and George Diego near Los Angeles' Koreatown shortly after midnight Saturday after he approached them and appeared to remove something from his waistband, police said. No weapon was recovered.

Corrales and Diego heard a loud noise while driving in their patrol car and turned around to see Washington. The officers said the 27-year-old was looking around suspiciously and manipulating something in his waist area.

I realize it's a nearly impossible task the police have, but can we all agree that although their training is not all that intensive, it is adequate to the job at hand? Can we agree that normal police training should be sufficient to avoid these gross departures from acceptable procedure? That would mean the ones who commit these acts are either unfit for the job in the general sense or acting in bad faith.

What's your opinion? Is this the kind of thing that should be considered an accident that can happen to anybody? Is it similar to unintentional discharges of the weapon, the kind a bit of a warning or a slap on the wrist can correct? Are cops who do this less likely to do it again in the future?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. There really isn't enough information available yet to properly comment. How can we condemn the police for their action, when we don't know exactly what happened?

    Did they really hear a loud noise? Perhaps they did, and perhaps that loud noise sounded like a gunshot. Perhaps it was nothing more than a shout.

    Perhaps the individual, although autistic, wanted to commit suicide. If the article is correct, he approached them and appeared to remove something from his waistband. It is possible that he knew his actions would present a danger to the police and that if he failed to cooperate, he could be killed. Suicide by cop. It does happen.

    Lastly, you seem to be equating autism with mental retardation or mental incompetency, thereby absolving him of his actions. That he was autistic doesn't mean he was mentally incompetent.

  2. Shrimp said, "Lastly, you seem to be equating autism with mental retardation or mental incompetency, thereby absolving him of his actions."

    Where did you get that impression?

  3. I think perhaps I was hasty in saying "you" when I was meaning to say, people, at large.

    A lot of people seem to equate autism with mental retardation, thanks in part to Rain Man. While that movie did portray a fairly accurate representation of an extreme autism, there are many forms and extremes of autism, and most are so mild that diagnosis is near impossible.

    So, the family's claim that he had autism isn't particularly meaningful, unless they were attempting to play at people's heartstrings. He may well have had autism, and it may have been severe, but I doubt it. Of course, without more facts, we cannot properly comment.

    I think the general impression that you are blaming the police, and calling into question their training, and motives in this (and other) shootings colored my view of what you were saying.

    All of this places blame on the police, rather than at the feet of the individual, who, according to what is reported, acted rather stupidly when confronted by the police.

    I solidly support the concept that every shooting ought to be investigated for what was done correctly and what was not. But to do so with the automatic belief that the police did not receive enough training, or were negligent in their duty is not the way to do it.

    I apologize for the comment.