The Shooting By Atlanta Police Of An Unarmed, Naked Black Man Sounds Depressingly Familiar

Just days after an unarmed Wisconsin teen and an unarmed Colorado man were shot and killed by the police, police near Atlanta shot and killed an unarmed, naked black man on Monday. The officer, who is white, was responding to a report of a naked man acting "deranged" at an apartment complex and fired when the man started charging him. The case has been handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations for an independent probe.

According to the Chief of Police for DeKalb County Cedric Alexander, county police received a call from someone on Monday afternoon reporting a man "acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around naked" in an apartment complex in Chamblee, a suburb of Atlanta. Alexander said at a press conference that when the officer came across the naked man in the parking lot, the man charged at the officer, who told him to stop before shooting him twice in the upper body and killing him.

Officers did not find a weapon on the deceased, who they later learned was a resident of the apartment complex. Alexander told reporters that the officer, a seven-year vet at the department, was carrying a Taser and pepper spray during the incident.

Already, there seems to be several questions raised by the shooting. Firstly, the fact that the deceased man was naked should have made it visibly obvious that he was unarmed. Secondly, the officer had two options he could have chosen before firing his gun — his stun gun and his pepper spray. Even if the man had been much larger than the officer, a Taser is designed to stop anyone in their tracks.

Stephen Morton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Third, according to Alexander, the man is believed to have had mental health issues, a factor that should have prompted very different protocol from the officer.

Alexander said at the press conference:

I can only reasonably assume that if he was running around the apartment complex naked, I believe we can make the assumption there may have been some mental health experience that he might have been having.

Though the department does require officers to take mental health training, it may not be adequate.Alexander added:

That's becoming more and more apparent. We have already, as many departments have begun to do, look at how to expand our mental health training when we find it certainly necessary to do so. Because it appears that we're seeing more and more of these cases across the country in which police are engaging with those who appear to be in distress.
MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Atlanta shooting is the third reported case of police fatally shooting an unarmed black man in the United States in just five days. On Friday afternoon, police in Aurora, Colorado, shot and killed unarmed fugitive Naeschylus Vinzant, and later that night, police in Madison, Wisconsin fatally shot unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson.

Turin Carter, the slain teen's uncle, said at a press conference that Robinson's death "highlights a universal problem with law enforcement and how its procedures have been carried out ... specifically as it pertains to the systematic targeting of young black males." It's heartbreaking to hear such familiar words come from yet another family who's lost their son or father or husband. How many more family statements do we need to hear before making some real change?Images: Getty Images (2)