After police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown to death in August in Ferguson, Missouri, he claimed the teenager had reached into his waistband, causing Wilson to fear Brown had a weapon. Brown was unarmed.
"Guns do come out of waistbands," said Eugene O'Donnell, former police officer and current lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Yet the waistband claim has become a cliche of the aftermath of police shootings.
"Some departments around the country need to be reined in on a lot of this stuff," O'Donnell said, adding that the recent uproar over the killing of Brown and others is a good opportunity to address police practices before and after shootings.
Scouring recent news archives, The Huffington Post turned up many stories about police officers shooting armed suspects who reached for their waistbands. But it also turned up many stories in which police cite waistbands after shooting unarmed suspects.