In Mobile, Alabama this week, policemen used lethal force on Antonio Love, a deaf and mentally disabled man, who would not come out of the bathroom.
Their excuse? He had a lethal weapon himself....an umbrella.
Love was in the bathroom, a place where everyone should expect privacy and respect. . In Love's words, given in sign-language, he had "a badly upset stomach last Friday and went into a Dollar General store to use the restroom."
When he had been in there an hour, store employees called the authorities, which is reasonable enough. The police appropriately identified themselves, but Love, who was scared and believed the Devil was trying to get in, did not respond.
They responded disproportionately to the absence of any apparent threat by spraying pepper spray through the door, using a tire iron to open the door Love was trying to keep closed.
After they realized he was deaf and disabled, what did they do? Did they...apologize profusely and let him go? Was ... disciplinary action taken against the authorities who overused force?
They laughed at him.
And proceeded to charge him on disorderly conduct.
The right of disabled persons to function fully and exist with respect in our society is consistently deprived of them. This is obviously a difficult situation to navigate, but it's the responsibility of the authorities to be calm and careful and to restrain themselves from using force in a situation where there is no apparent harm. When they are dealing with someone who is unable to recognize themselves, they need to move slowly and deliberately to make sure that they are not doing ... exactly what they did.
Contact information for the Mobile police department can be found here.