In an increasingly common pattern, sporadic upheaval and isolated civil disturbance has taken place in American cities after a police shooting, or legal action around one.
This time Atlanta was no exception, after a Georgia Tech campus police officer shot and killed student Scout Schultz. Schultz, who had a history of mental illness, was reportedly brandishing a multi-tool and urged officers to use deadly force. One officer fired a single shot, fulfilling Schultz’s apparent wish for what’s calledsuicide-by-cop.
Schultz’s death came after protests and property damage in St. Louis, after a judge there acquitted an officer of murder in a controversial shooting after a high-speed chase. Prosecutors had alleged the officer planted the gun found at the scene.
The incidents in both states write another tragic chapter in the textbook of police-community relations. While investigations continue and answers remain elusive for now, many have rightly wondered whether Schultz had to die. They raise legitimate questions over whether better training and more non-lethal options for subduing suspects might save lives.
Society should forcefully explore this issue before more people are killed who might have survived encounters with police in the not-so-distant past.
Today, the AJC presents three writers offering thoughts on Schultz’s killing.
Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board.