On September 16, 2017 a young nonbinary Georgia Tech student - apparently a brilliant biomedical engineer-to-be and organizer for the student Pride alliance, made a fatal decision. In what was most certainly a product of suicidal ideation, Scout (as Scout was nonbinary, identifying neither as male or female, the name will be used in lieu of pronouns out of respect) left two suicide notes and then called in to the campus police that there was a man armed with a knife and a gun. Scout then went outside to meet them.

The event was recorded on cellphone video and is available all over the Internet

In that video, Scout wanders towards, and then away from, towards and then away from two armed police - one carefully behind a parking barricade and the other behind a car door. The cops are doing their usual "put the weapon down and surrender right now" agitation stuff, and Scout is clearly in hindsight psyching Scout up to move towards one of them to achieve suicide by cop.

He's at least 27 feet from one cop, having figured out the one with the largest bloodlust. He walks towards one, who takes a step back and remains calm. Apparently the first four campus policemen were engaging in dialog and trying to de-escalate the situation. But when GT Police Officer Tyler Beck showed up he was of the "play stupid games, get stupid prizes" and MAH AUTHORITAH type police, so Scout clearly decides, after saying "shoot me", to take a step towards said officer. Beck was clearly very eager to comply.

Two shots were fired. The first only wounded Scout greviously, causing Scout to cry out in pain. The second, with Scout down, was through the heart and fatal.

The problem here was that this was captured on video. None of this "he was armed, charging at me like a crazy person" lying possible - the entire world saw a slight, harmless person whose arms were by Scout's sides walking slowly towards an officer. In Scout's hand was a multi-tool, basically a Swiss Army Knife but more geared to Allen wrenches and screwdrivers then knives. The police started the "man armed with a knife runs at officer" meme but it didn't have legs. The multi-tool was closed. The officer was never under any threat whatsoever.

There was an uproar. Yet again, a police officer had gotten trigger-happy and killed someone unnecessarily. The country had only just tried to deal with the death of Philando Castille, a black man who was FULLY complying with poilce and reaching for his wallet AS INSTRUCTED when the cop in question suddenly decided to fire four shots into him within a foot of his wife and four year old child. Not guilty, said a jury. What horrified some people and was memed hard was responses of white people crying that thanks to people objecting to yet another police brutality case ending in not guilty - Ed Sheeran wasn't going to play their home town that day. Concert cancelled.

The outcry at Tech started with a banner ordering cops off the premises, given that the police had now proven they were more of a danger to the students than the outside world. 

Then there was a quiet prayer vigil that went out of hand and resulted in three arrests, some officers at GT getting assaulted and one GT police car being torched.

And naturally online there was an outpouring of support for officers everywhere: Blue Lives Matter, they have a stressful job you know, why don't you sign up for the Academy if you know it all, charge at a police officer with a weapon, get killed and so forth. And on the other side, just as much vituperation. 

Schultz's father had his own demand: to know why nonlethal methods of resolving the situation weren't even tried, why it was just drive up and start shooting. Tech police aren't equipped with Taser guns, so the question was asked as to why not.

But in the midst of American cops and their fervent supporters insisting that it's entirely possible for someone to open a multitool and kill all five officers within 27 feet within a matter of fifteen seconds, not only were bystanders mocking what was clearly, CLEARLY an attempt at making excuses for yet another senseless police brutality killing - but police in other countries were asking just what in hell is wrong with American cops that they have no ability to deal with situations without violence, why the first thing is the gun and shoot to kill.

In came more interesting anecdotes: such as it being unofficial police policy to shoot to kill. Not because center of mass, neutralize the target, blah blah blah - but hurt people can sue for lots of money, dead people can't. 

It's been a year with many notable incidents of police brutality, with a cop breaking a man's facial bones and rendering him unconscious for insisting on staying on a plane it was totally legal for him to stay on - a doctor who insisted he couldn't fly tomorrow because of medical need, as well as the constant stream of people of color left dead as "scared" cops insist only death makes them less fearful. Calls are increasing to do SOMETHING about the police, whereas the "Law and order" side entrench further and insist that Officer "SWANT Gear" driving a military surplus tank around isn't a problem, regardless of how many dead people or badly injured folks the police leave in their wake.

The President of the University called it a Heart Wrenchingly Very Painful Time. Of course. If nothing else they're looking at a wrongful death suit.

In what proved to be VERY dark unintentional humor, the Georgia Tech campus police decided to postpone "Campus Safety Day" because of recent events, leading to a number of VERY sarcastic responses in Georgia Tech's Facebook page. 

There have also been protests. In one, several police were assaulted requiring hospitalization for concussion and one police car was burned. The Georgia Tech PD office was vandalized with the spray painted word "pigs".

People stress suicide notes were left and Scout said "Shoot Me". A quiet reminder that it is not legal to kill someone even if they order you to do so. Regardless of how many apologetics show up to try and make this about Obeying The Nice Officer At All Times Even If He's Breaking The Law, You Can Always Take It Up With The Judge Later, when police from other countries are calling you trigger-happy cowboys, maybe it's time to re-evaluate your policies and training.

None of this will bring Scout back. What a shame that crisis intervention and suicide prevention, counselling and so forth take a back seat to the constant amping up of fear, pressure, terror, and concern. 

Meanwhile Mr. Beck is sitting around his house on an extended paid vacation. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is "investigating", but anyone with any hope of this ending with charges laid is dreaming in technicolor.

 


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