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Unjustified killing underscores urgency of transforming police culture

Urban League leaders said the cold blooded killing of a disabled man as he tried to flee police reveals an almost delusional mindset on  the part of the Huntington Park […]

SAN JOSE, CA – MAY 29: San Jose Police Department academy recruits listen to the Emmanuel Baptist Church Pastor Jason Reynolds in SJPD’s substation in San Jose, Calif., on May 29, 2020. Chief Eddie Garcia addressed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that has elicited national outcry after an officer kneeled on his neck. The officer has since been fired and charged with murder. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

Urban League leaders said the cold blooded killing of a disabled man as he tried to flee police reveals an almost delusional mindset on  the part of the Huntington Park officers who shot him, underscoring the urgency of transforming  police culture and accountability.

“Absolutely no one, including the officers involved, can possibly be expected to believe that a  double amputee, dragging his body across the ground, presented a threat warranting the use of  lethal force,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “The officers’ confident expectation that their ludicrous account of the shooting would be accepted is as chilling  as the shooting itself. Anthony Lowe is not the victim of rogue officers violating policies and  procedures; he is the victim of a police culture that encourages casual and unjustified violence  without the slightest expectation of consequences or discipline.”

The officers’ behavior, like that of the Memphis police who beat Tyre Nichols to death early last  month, is a devastating betrayal of public trust, the leaders said.

“What police officers did to Anthony Lowe, and far too many others, must be condemned and  cannot be tolerated,” Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Michael Lawson said. “This is  yet another tragic scenario where family members and the public would be left in the dark if it  were not for bystander cell phone footage. When officers who have sworn to protect the public act irresponsibly and needlessly kill, they must be fired immediately. We must make it clear that  officers perpetuating these acts will be held accountable and justice will come swiftly.”

The deaths of Nichols and Lowe have refocused attention on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas reintroduced after the State of the Union address on Feb. 7. Among other provisions, the Act would increase the use of body cameras,  which Huntington Park police are not currently required to wear, and allow the prosecution of  police officers who violate someone’s civil rights.

“Reforming policies and procedures are meaningless, however, without a drastic shift in police  culture and attitudes,” Morial said.

The National Urban League developed “21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust” as a guideline not only for reforming policies and procedures, but for  reimagining the relationship between police and the communities they serve.

“This is a fight that Los Angeles has been in for a long time,” Lawson said. “Though we have made  some progress, progress has not been made fast enough. The time is now because lives are at  risk.”