This week, a 14-year-old student at a Reno Nevada high school was gunned down by police after going on a homicidal rampage, slashing at the crowd of gathered students, injuring at least one. The student was identified as Logan Clark who reportedly had been in a dispute with one other student when he brandished the knife. The police arrived and did everything they could to alleviate the situation without having to kill anyone, as is evident by the single gunshot to the shoulder, which spared Logan’s life. It is hard to believe that the police would confront an armed and violent attacker and not fire a full magazine into him, until you realize the armed subject was white.
It is a great thing that the police did not carry through with a barrage of bullets as they are known to do in even the most innocuous of situations. Their restraint in this case should be applauded. It does, however, highlight the contrast between how white and black suspects are engaged by police. Unarmed black men are still being gunned down, despite all the media attention, while crazed white attackers are subdued with the greatest of ease. The double standard has become obvious, yet police have taken no steps in correcting the situation.
According to reports, the officer was a Washoe County School District employee assigned to the school. Thankfully, the reports outline in great detail the lengths the officer went to in order to save the boy’s life. According to statements made by Police Chief Soto, the officer “instructed the student to drop the knife. When he did not comply, the officer shot him in the shoulder, then offered medical attention.” The question now becomes, why do we not have this response to every armed person? In almost every case of an armed attacker, police open fire without hesitation. The fact that the student was white was not mentioned, yet it was the single most important factor in how this incident was resolved.
There are several problems with this case as a whole, but the most striking is the double standard that has become overwhelmingly apparent. People could argue that a Taser could have been used or that he could have simply been disarmed, however, police are not trained to do this. Police are also not allowed by policy to shoot suspects in the shoulder, either. The police deadly force policy is very black and white and doesn’t allow for half-measures. Either there is a deadly threat or there isn’t. If the threat poses a great risk of serious harm or death, they are to be eliminated. This policy was not followed, and that’s a good thing. Despite the light that this case will shine on the tactics used, you won’t hear a mention of this from the police. The problem with this incident was that it wasn’t done by the book, which shows that the book itself is wrong.
Logan was taken to a nearby hospital and was listed in serious condition, however, he is expected to recover. The Reno Police Department is currently investigating the incident to determine its cause. No action is expected to be taken against the officer who fired the shot, as his actions were within the guidelines of police deadly force. The fact that he went above and beyond to not take a life should be commended and echoed in all police encounters moving forward, particularly those involving people of color.
Family and friends of Logan defended him, saying that he had been bullied in the days leading up to the incident and that he was fundamentally a “good kid.” The reality is that he probably is, as are many of the victims of police violence. This officer demonstrated an empathy toward Logan, who he recognized was in a moment of emotional distress. It is this empathy that is sorely lacking from the majority of police brutality cases that are brought to our attention.
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