Shootings are always a tough area in the eyes of law enforcement, and this case is no different. However, similar to what I wrote in another article, people need to try to keep a clear head when they are around the police, regardless of the situation they are in, or it could result in death, an unfortunate lesson learned the hard way by 17 year old Justus Howell.
It seems as though Howell was aiming to buy an illegal firearm from another teenager, but he ended up stealing the weapon from him. A shot was let off during the teenagers’ fight for possession of the gun, and police were called to the scene. This resulted in Howell running away with the fire arm, and the officer had open fire at him in order to slow him down and arrest him. However, the two shots that connected to Howell’s back ended up being fatal, and the results of the case merely had the officer responsible for shooting on administrative leave.
My condolences go out to the Howell family. I know they could not have been happy with the result of this situation, and I know that they probably believe that the officer should be charged like any family would. They also probably had a lot of people in their ears saying that these officers get away with too much, especially when there was the recent shooting of the unarmed 19 year old which resulted in the officer not getting charged. However, when I look at this entire situation overall, which does differ from the situation with the unarmed 19 year old, I believe the correct decision was made, and I will very clearly explain why I think so.
This officer was no rookie to the police forces, this man was a nine year veteran, which leads me to believe he has been in situations where he has had to make much more difficult decisions than this. This leads me to believe that the officer decided that Howell was just too far away on foot for any of the other weapons at an officer’s disposal to be effective enough to stop him without compromising his safety. Second, I understand that Howell was running away and posed no threat to the officer, but a policeman’s job is to stop crime doers and arrest them, and sometimes shooting is the one forceful way that gets people to stop running. Building upon that, if Howell was let go and was not shot at, no one knows what his intentions were when he stole that gun. While most will probably say he was going to probably shoot someone that had done him some kind of wrong, he very well could have been running to try and find a place to hide, only to catch the suspecting officer off guard and shoot him, or even hold someone’s family hostage. The list goes on. Third, some may try to claim that the officer could have shot Howell in a less fatal place, such as an arm or a leg. Despite being a nine year veteran, an entire human body moving at a speed that high is still very difficult to hit alone, and now some want to try and have the officer hit a target that is significantly smaller? While the entire target itself is getting smaller because it is moving away from the shooter? The chance of it happening is just way too low and the armed teen getting away are just way too high in a situation like that. It was just an unlucky day for Howell that his two shots to the back ended up being fatal.
I really do not like it when people get shot, whether it is in gang violence, a planned out target or when an officer shoots someone if needed. However, it is something that needs to be done when someone refuses to abide by the law’s rules in extremes like this. I hope people hear about cases like these and think twice about what may happen to them when they make the choice to disobey an officer.