Police Brutality in the U.S. Continues with Alabama Police Shooting

Late last month, an Alabama police officer was arrested and charged with shooting an unarmed black man in Montgomery, according to officials.

The 23-year-old police officer, Aaron “A.C.” Smith, was charged with murder in the death of 59-year-old Gregory Gunn.

Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey comment that “[The State Bureau of Investigations] and I agreed at the beginning of this investigation that this case would be treated as any other case. We agreed that if there were probable cause that a crime had been committed then an arrest would be made.”

According to police, Smith was on patrol early on a Thursday morning when he stopped what he believed was a suspicious man on the street. A short struggle and altercation continued for a block before Smith fired his gun, killing Gunn.

The shooting, which was investigated by the FBI, is just one in a long line of unwarranted police shootings, particularly targeting people of color, that have been shaking the country and raising public outcry for the past year.

Activists are bringing attention not only to the high number of deaths caused by police brutality, but also to the increased militarization of many policing units.

Author Radley Balko, who penned “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces,” writes about an incident in Columbia, MO, in 2010 where a whole SWAT team was sent to investigate a tip on illegal drug activity.

Balko notes that when discussions of police brutality and fatal shooting of unarmed black men and women come up, police like to bring up police killings. But the number of police shootings is dramatically down, says Balko.

Local police departments are becoming increasingly militarized — for instance, armored tanks were seen during the 2014 protests of Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer in 2014.

To some activists, it seems as if local police officers fighting battles against civilians here rather than terrorists overseas. Such equipment is often meant to take on vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (or VBIEDs) in places like Syria, where a photo was captured of a record 80-ton VBIED owned by the Islamic State (IS) on August 10, 2015.

This public backlash against police militarization, along with the national attention towards the use of deadly force, likely influenced Smith’s arrest and arraignment, says Tyrone C. Means, an attorney for the Gunn family.

Smith’s attorney Mickey McDerrmott, however, told a local television station that his client had been “sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.”