It’s hard to imagine if she walked into a police department in nearly any other country in the world that she would’ve died in a barrage of bullets.
American police will kill you. Run from them, they’ll kill you. Act nervous when they scream at you and they’ll kill you. Do nothing at all and they’ll kill you. Walk down the stairs and they’ll kill you. Put your hands up and they’ll kill you.
Mental illness matters not to American police if they imagine, sense, or perceive a threat of any kind; They will shoot you over and over again until you die.
It’s not this way around the world, but in the good ‘ol US of A, our officers are shooting and killing people at a record pace. So, when Kristiana Coignard walked into a Longview, Texas police department, and picked up the phone there to speak to someone, the fact that she would soon be shot to death by three police officers may have already occurred to her, but as details emerge about her shooting death, it’s hard to imagine if she walked into a police department in nearly any other country in the world that she would’ve died in a barrage of bullets.
Please read below the fold for details on this story.
On Friday, January 23, 17-year-old student Kristiana Coignard walked into her local police department, picked up a telephone, and asked to speak to an officer. Sometime after that she pulled “a weapon” and was shot and killed by three police officers.
For three days, that’s pretty much all the police have said. Refusing to say what type of weapon she brandished, the inference was that it was so lethal a weapon that it must’ve been a gun or a stick of dynamite or hand grenade, but Longview Mayor Jay Dean just revealed that it wasn’t a gun at all, but a knife.
In an article on Think Progress, it was revealed that Kristiana was struggling mightily with mental illness.
Coignard was living in Longview with her Aunt, Heather Robertson. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Robertson raised questions about the circumstances of Coignard’s death. “I think it was a cry for help. I think they could have done something. They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.”
Robertson said that her niece had been struggling with mental illness, including depression and bipolar disorder, since her mother died when she was four. She had been hospitalized twice in recent years after suicide attempts. One time, she tried to hang herself. Another time, she drank toilet bowl cleaner. Since arriving in Longview in December, Coignard had been taking medication and regularly seeing a therapist. She had no criminal record and “was only violent with herself, ” Robertson said.
It’s hard to believe, no matter what the circumstance, that the only option available to the Longview police department was to shoot Kristiana over and over again.
In London, a depressed man struggling with mental illness got two large knives and pulled them out in front of Buckingham Palace, but the police, trained on how to surround and subdue a man like him with nonlethal force, did so in less than a minute.
In the United States, though, eight officers and a police dog, surrounded a mentally ill man with a knife, and, instead of subduing him, shot at him 46 times until he bled out and died there in the parking lot.
A homeless man, James Boyd, was shot over and over again by New Mexico police in spite of not being a grave threat to them.
Kajieme Powell, in the midst of psychotic episode, was shot and killed by St. Louis policewithin seconds of pulling up next to him.
In an Economist article entitled “Trigger Happy,” the true story of just how quickly American police are willing to shoot and kill people is made frighteningly clear:
Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one. Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britain’s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014 the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.
This is a public safety crisis. While our nation may have more guns than many others, it’s disgustingly obvious that our police are shooting and killing people who are unarmed and often mentally ill and it must stop.