"To begin with, let's talk about the near impunity with which law-enforcement agents in this country shoot, choke and beat unarmed civilians. This epidemic of lawful violence has become so routine that we lack even accurate statistics about it. By one count, on-duty police officers committed 3 percent of all homicides last year. A more expansive study by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement found that in 2012, a black person was killed by a police officer, security guard or self-appointed vigilante every twenty-eight hours.
As Chase Madar points out at TheNation.com, state and federal law gives wide latitude to police officers to use deadly force in self-defense, or merely in carrying out an arrest, if such force is "objectively reasonable." In practice, that standard means police accounts are almost always taken as truth, even if eyewitness testimony or forensic evidence points to a different reality. And as recent cases remind us, when the suspect has dark skin, what counts as an "objectively reasonable" use of force by police may be prompted by a toy gun, a loose cigarette, the symptoms of mental illness, or a person simply walking into the darkened stairwell of his own building. This two-tiered system of justice—one for civilians, the other for law enforcement—must end."