Kansas Police Kill Teen to Stop Suicide

18-yld Joseph Jennings

18-year-old Joseph Jennings, though unarmed, was shot 16 times

On August 21, 2014, 18-year-old Joseph Jennings had attempted suicide by taking pills. He suffered from painful seizures, which apparently drove him to desperation. Two days later, after the hospital released him, Ottawa, Kansas police shot and killed Joseph. Dozens of spent shell casings as well as bean bags littered the scene. 16 times, a police officer shot this young man–not including several bean bags. Apparently, the 911 caller had reported someone with a gun, but witnesses indicate Jennings had no gun, and in the articles I’ve found, police don’t contradict that.

In true “we had to destroy the village to save it” logic, police killed another person behaving in a suicidal manner. Even more tragic, police threatened to shoot the teen’s (step-?)father, who neared Joseph, attempting to tackle him. Let that sink in. Police threatened to kill a man attempting to save his son.

Ottawa Police Chief, Dennis Butler, said the officers did what they were trained to do. ‘They reacted based upon the training that they’ve been given from the academy,’ Butler said. ‘We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm.’

“Ottawa Police Shoot Unarmed Teen 16 Times While Family Begs Them Not To”

I’m wondering, Police Chief Dennis Butler, why you’re training those under your command to kill unarmed, suicidal teenagers and threatening to kill their parents who try to save them. While I appreciate that you and your highly-trained officers want them to avoid risk of bodily harm, I don’t believe you that this unarmed 18-year-old posed “great bodily harm” to a group of cops. And, I can’t understand why you not only train them poorly in marksmanship (several rounds missed him, which I would think posed an even greater danger to your cops and/or bystanders), while teaching them that an unarmed, mentally ill teenager poses such a threat to your brave crime fighters that he needs to be shot 16 times.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough. Now, the the county attorney, Bob Bezek, has reportedly told Joseph’s family to take down the memorial they erected at the location where the brave Ottawa Police Department slaughtered him.

Compare and contrast:

Elaborate, expensive, taxpayer-funded funeral which interferes with traffic vs. makeshift memorial erected by family members

Elaborate, expensive, taxpayer-funded funeral which interferes with traffic vs. makeshift memorial erected by family members

updates: number of times victim shot, minor grammar corrections

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Police Clear Police for Tasering 8-Year-Old Girl

8-year-old Native American girl tasered by police in October 2013

8-year-old Native American girl tasered by police in October 2013

This girl was 80 pounds at the time four macho policemen surrounded her and attacked her with a taser weapon.

‘She had a kitchen paring knife, but hadn’t cut. She was a kid throwing a tantrum. They should have made an attempt to grab the kid, not use a weapon to throw her into a wall. A Taser’s not meant to kill, but it does kill. Many people have died after being hit by a Taser by cops. It never should be used on a little child. She certainly wasn’t presenting a danger to officers.’

Police Say Tasering 8-Year-Old Native American Girl Was Justified

Don’t support laws you are not willing to kill to enforce

Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right. I often tell my students that there will never be a perfect technology of law enforcement, and therefore it is unavoidable that there will be situations where police err on the side of too much violence rather than too little. Better training won’t lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.

—Professor Stephen Carter, cited by Ilya Somin, “Don’t support laws you are not willing to kill to enforce”, The Washington Post, 2014-12-05

Law Professor: Don’t Talk to Police

Regent University Law Professor James Duane gives a lecture on why you should never talk to police without a lawyer, explaining how even innocent people can fall into subtle traps which would have been avoided by just shutting up.

Or, as Ken White at Popehat implores:


UPDATE: Don’t talk in action:

Libertarians on the Wilson and Brown Case

As libertarians, we claim to have a solution. We claim to know a better way. We claim to be the ones striking at the root of the tree of evil instead of hacking at branches. So why are so many of us responding as a community as though the most important question were whether Wilson was justified in shooting Brown?
—E. Lee MacFall, Libertarians are Missing the Point on the Darren Wilson Case | Towards a Better Way

The assertion of having a solution or “better way” runs counter to individualism. Yes, I believe that most people would fare best in a civilization in which people refrain from aggressive behavior, in which laissez faire free market economics precludes using government force—which is necessarily aggressive—to interfere in the market, even under the premise of protecting people (which is most often a lie). But to insist that everyone else follow such a blueprint and trust to my judgement for their own lives, would be anti-individualist.

Peppered throughout MacFall’s article are a number of collectivist phrases, like, “…we claim…,” and, “…us responding as a community….” In that respect, he misses a core value of libertarianism.

And finally, if the question of justified use of force is not the most important question, then it isn’t about the shooting. Then the shooting becomes nothing but a springboard for airing other grievances. And, to start from a presumption that Wilson murdered Brown, even though evidence disproves most of the claims in support of that, is to start with a lie. What sort of moral conclusion can anyone draw from a lie?