The use of 'less-lethal' force by law enforcement
It's been a summer of unrest in a number of cities across the country, and just how and win police use so called less lethal force is a topic of much debate as we report in our cover story. Theo demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, streets in the name of Jacob Blake started as most protest do peacefully. But his day turned to night simmering tensions boiled over. Tempers were lost. So is the message. For police. Balancing the right to assemble with public safety is a delicate one. If and win, crowds get out of control the weapons at their disposal. Are designed to be less lethal. But in the weeks of unrest since the death of George Floyd Not just violent agitators being targeted by being backgrounds on phone tip projectile. It's the innocent. We're being injured as well. Take this protest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida back in May. 34 year old LaToya Ratliff was there Was it peaceful? Was very peaceful. There weren't any issues for the most part of the day. But something changed. She wasn't sure. Just what the time but clearly mood shift way were kneeling on the ground, a good distance away from the officers. And even as we were kneeling and chanting and being peaceful at that time we started to get tear gassed. The crowd dispersed, including a toy. That's her wearing a pink backpack. But watch what happens next. Toya was shot in the head by a 40 millimeter phone tipped round fired, her attorney says, Buy a Fort Lauderdale police officers. The impact fractured the toys, skull. She needed 20 stitches and I remember people screaming and saying help. She's been hit called 911 in my mind. I'm not thinking that I was shot because Why would the officer shoot me? If I'm not posing any type of threat to him and I'm actually leaving? Hers is not a unique or isolated incident. I didn't realize how big of a deal it wass. Until there was light surgeons around me. Linda Toronto, is a freelance journalist sent to cover the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. She's a veteran of this kind of reporting she was in Ferguson, Missouri. Back in 2014. After another police killing this one of Michael Brown. There's a space where the protesters were gathered in a group and police were gathered in their line, and the people who are in between and not space are gonna be media. That's how you get the understanding of what's going on is you, you stand and you watch both sides. That's what she was doing in Minneapolis that night. This is the last photo she took what appears to show an officer aiming directly at her. I think that I not shooting people in the face for exercising. The first thing we fixed about the Constitution should just be Standard operating procedure. The non lethal round shot at Linda that night blinded her in her left eye, so I can see to about here on de everything past. Everything from here to here is just a blank. I'm assured that as I become used to having one, I'll be able to do all the things I used to do without it being a problem. But like the getting usedto only having one eyes Not a small task. To be sure, police have been injured in the protest to hundreds of more than 50 on one particularly violent night in Seattle. Crowds can be dangerous, dispersing them is often necessary. The research on the lethality of less lethal weapons. Is pretty hard to come by. In 2017 review of the available literature of the subject was published in a medical journal. Be M. J. Open. Of the nearly 2000 people. Since 1990 documented to have been injured by less lethal rounds. 300 suffered permanent disability 53 of them died. These air, large, dense High speed projectiles, and they cause significant and severe injuries. Doctor Rahimi Har is with physicians for human rights and one of the authors of that review. The basic rights like free speech and free assembly are being suppressed. Globally and the primary way that that's happening is because of crowd control weapons. In just the first week after the death of George Floyd Horror documented at least 100 serious injuries to protesters and journalists. Most To the head and neck. The narrative is that they're not lethal. They're not dangerous that police need a continuum of use of force and that these air really excellent options for them to be safe while at the same time controlling riots, and that's not the case. It's absolutely not the case. While most police departments have access to Leslie, the weapons experts say fewer offered any significant training. Just how to use them. I've talked agencies. We've never seen crowd control before. We didn't even know what to do These air 40 millimeter impact munitions. Travis Norton is an instructor with the California Association of Tactical Officers. He specializes in less lethal weapons. Not only how to use them. But win How do you do with a group of agitators in the middle of peaceful protesters? There are a lot of different tactics you can use. Unfortunately, a lot of those departments don't know what those tactics are. What are we trying to accomplish with what we're trying to do? Are we just standing here on the skirmish line and deploying impact munitions protesters hoping they'll go away or do we have an actual strategy? Rules of engagement, he says, have to be set. Because the risk of injury is almost inevitable. Unlike live ammunition, less lethal projectiles are unpredictable, where an officer aims and where the munitions hit. Could be two different things. Law enforcement is screaming for something better for us to use that it's out there in the last 20 years. We have had no new, less lethal. Come out other than prototypes and pilot projects until something better comes along, he says less lethal Sze will likely remain a crowd control option for police departments. It doesn't have to remain, he says. Is the cloud around their use. A lot of times what happens within law enforcement is these things will happen, And then we just forget about him because we're onto the next emergency. It's not purposeful. It's just we don't have a lot of time to reflect on things and we have to do better at that thespian or injuries. Montoya rattling has kept demonstrating Peaceful protest is in her DNA.