You have most likely heard of the Linden Cameron situation. Cameron is a 13-yo child, living in Salt Lake City, UT., who was, back in September, shot by “highly” trained officers. This is an article that we had been sitting on for sometime now. While we enjoy critiquing law enforcement, we had decided that it was better to wait for any new details to emerge. With that said, let’s begin.
September 4, 2020
On the night of September 4th, police had received an urgent call. Golda Barton, Linden’s mother, had stated that her son was having a psychiatric episode and could become violent. She also allegedly requested a crisis intervention officer. It is important to note that her son, Linden, suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. While the condition is manageable, it does come with a variety of complications. Social skills, behavioral skills, etc. being among them. On this night, it was reported that Barton’s son had made threats of breaking windows as well as threatening to shoot an employee. While this would put police on high alert, we have to remind you that they had a crisis intervention officer, the “specially” trained officer who deals with citizens suffering from mental disabilities.
While the SLC police have never verified the recovery of a weapon, they have released a statement. According to Sgt. Harrocks they were advised of a child who was having a “violent psych issue” and “making threats to some folks with a weapon.” However, the mother counters this claim. According to her, she informed police that night that he had no weapon, they shot him anyway. This brings us to ask the big question: were the police justified in shooting a 13yo child?
As you are probably aware, there is a specific criteria when it comes to the use of lethal force, especially when that force is lethal. For instance, the police have to articulate that there is a creditable threat to their lives, something I highly doubt would have been the case in this situation. While the child did have previous involvement with the police, this can’t be used to articulate that there is a threat to life. The bigger issue with this shooting is simply how it unfolded.
Watching the bodycam video, an officer is seen running up to the child while yelling “hold your hands out.” within a fraction of a second, multiple shots are heard. The second problem with this situation comes in the multiple options that the officers had. They could had tackled, used a taser, or simply spoke to the child. The last example brings us right into problem number three.
You may recall, early in the article, I mentioned two things: the child has Asperger’s and the mother called for a crisis intervention officer. Generally, a crisis intervention officer is trained to deal with people such as this, so why didn’t they do their job? When dealing with a child, unless there is a weapon clearly visible, there is absolutely no excuse for shooting a weapon. But, even with all of these issues, we still have that burning question to answer.
The simple reason for the shooting was simply because the child wouldn’t obey commands. This shooting shows the horrible lack of training, competency, and integrity of the American police force. Because this child did not obey command, the police felt that it was required to blast eleven shots at the boy, in a neighborhood setting, in the darkness of night. This goes into other problems, such as the safety of residents. The one thing we can all agree to is this, every bullet fired has to stop somewhere. With each bullet these officers had fired, they not only placed the life of mentally disabled child at risk, but the lives of all the residents living nearby.
What should had been a call for help ended up becoming a horrific situation. A child, who was in clear need of help, is forever traumatized, alongside his family. This child, who already did not trust the police, has now been validated as to why he shouldn’t. As a result of this shooting, it’s reported by family that he has lost feeling in his left hand. Because he was shot in both of his feet, he will never be able to do many of the things he once could.
We can conclude that if this is how SLCPD’s “crisis intervention” officer handles these situations, we can only hope that they are unemployed once the investigation concludes. Beyond that, this situation demonstrated the willingness of officers to shoot first rather than actually handling the situation. Ultimately, it also is a demonstration of just how little the police regard human life. While this isn’t true among all officers, it doesn’t change that this lack of compassion is a pandemic within law enforcement.