Protect and Serve


I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

Hardly a day goes by when somebody isn’t shot to death by a cop in the United States. Three somebodies, actually.

Because the government hasn’t kept particularly accurate tabs on suspects killed by police, because it’s really embarrassing, nongovernment sources have taken up the slack. One is The Guardian, a British newspaper of some note.

Last month it began its own count of people killed by police in the U.S., pointedly called “The Counted.” Its count includes people shot, tasered, or run over by cop cars, and suspects who died in police custody.

It counted, for example, the Colorado University student felled by police bullets in my hometown a few days ago who may or may not have been threatening them with a hammer while under the influence of LSD. Inexplicably (to me, anyway) it did not count the apparent (to police, anyway) suicide of a black woman arrested by a Texas state trooper earlier this month who threatened to light her up with a taser gun for the crime of failure to signal.

July was a really rotten month for suspects all over America: one hundred fifteen died by police force, more than any other month this year. Twenty of those folks were unarmed, eclipsed by March, when thirty-one unarmed men and one woman were killed by police or died in police custody. Only twenty-one of them were people of color.

Six hundred sixty-nine people killed by police in the United States since New Year’s Eve. I read somewhere that 52 people were killed by United Kingdom police over the course of the entire twentieth century. I’m pretty sure the United Kingdom comprises four countries. No single month of 2015 is anywhere near that low a casualty rate in my country.

Six hundred sixty-nine people. One hundred forty-five unarmed. Twenty-nine women. Twelve under eighteen. Twenty-six percent black, in a population thirteen percent black. Forty-eight percent white, in a population sixty-two percent white.

If you don’t want to be killed by a cop, be sure to avoid any place where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. Safest states to be are Rhode Island and South Dakota. My own state is the seventh likeliest one to run into somebody who thinks he’s Pat Garrett and you’re Billy the Kid.

So far today, this day, the day I’m writing this, the last day of July, hardly anybody has been killed by police in the United States.

But hell, the day is young.


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One Response to Protect and Serve

  1. David Bates 11 August 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    Philip, I just have to say I’ve never understood why, in this day and age, the ‘right to bear arms’ hasn’t long since been done away with. It might have had some relatively justifiable purpose in earliest days of colonization, but, now? Guns don’t kill people. People choosing to discharge guns at people kill people. I would have thought it something we could all hold to be self-evident. Change the Constitution, change the law around weapons, take away the guns unless individuals, rigourously screened, are licensed under new law. A massive attitudinal shift is required. But then, what would I know? I’m just an old criminal defence lawyer from way down here down-under in good old Noo Zealand, where even relatively safe Tazers get beaten up! Have a look at our Arms Act legislation. Keep up the good work with the News Letter. David Bates – Barrister.

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