In Escambia County, Florida, a gang of unnamed sheriff’s deputies shot an unarmed, 60-year-old black man 15 times while he was standing in his own front yard trying to get a cigarette from his aged mother’s car, sending him to the hospital with a gunshot wound in his leg. The police lit him up because they barged onto his property at a quarter till three in the morning, came up behind him, drew down on him and shouted at him out of nowhere to get his hands up. When he didn’t react the right way, quickly enough, to bellowed commands of these belligerent, heavily armed strangers, they opened fire on him.
[Roy] Middleton, 60, of the 200 block of Shadow Lawn Lane in Warrington, was shot in the leg about 2:42 a.m. Saturday while trying to retrieve a cigarette from his mother’s car in the driveway of their home.
A neighbor saw someone reaching into the car and called 911. While he was looking into the vehicle, deputies arrived in response to the burglary call.
Middleton said he was bent over in the car searching the interior for a loose cigarette when he heard a voice order him to,Get your hands where I can see them.
He said he initially thought it was a neighbor joking with him, but when he turned his head he saw deputies standing halfway down his driveway.
He said he backed out of the vehicle with his hands raised, but when he turned to face the deputies, they immediately opened fire.
It was like a firing squad,he said.Bullets were flying everywhere.
–Kevin Robinson, Deputies shoot man in his front yard
Pensacola News Journal (29 July 2013)
For shooting an unarmed man standing in his front lawn, who posed no threat to them, the unnamed police officers have been given a paid vacation from their government jobs.
Last Thursday, Florida Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan gave an interview with CNN in which he defended the shooting and the deputies responsible for it, and that it is within
standard protocols to open fire because Middleton
did not comply with their commands.
According to Florida Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan in a CNN interview Thursday, the police officers who fired 15 shots at 60-year-old Roy Middleton in the driveway of his and his mother’s home acted entirely within their limits in response to a 911 call for a suspected car theft. . . . On Thursday, Morgan defended the officers’ actions as standard procedure because Middleton “did not comply.” Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo how police could justify 15 shots at a 60-year-old man, Morgan said the officers saw a metallic object in Middleton’s hand as he made a “lunging movement” toward them. Middleton explained this in his account: He turned around because he thought the entire thing was a practical joke played by a neighbor.
“Right now we are comfortable from a training perspective that our officers did follow standard protocols,” Morgan said.
–Rebecca Leber, Florida Sheriff: Officers Who Shot Unarmed Black Man In His Driveway Followed ‘Standard Protocols’
ThinkProgress (August 1, 2013).
Let’s suppose that all that is true, for the moment. (There is actually no reason at all to take the police at their word on this, but let’s assume for the sake of argument.) If this overkill shooting of an unarmed man was something that leaves the police
comfortable from a training perspective, then what does that tell you about the training? If this overkill shooting of an unarmed man was strictly by the book, what does that tell you about the book?