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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cops kill at a higher rate in the West than elsewhere

As darkness and a chill fell over northwestern New Mexico on a Friday in late November, two men flagged down a San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputy to report a scuffle, with at least one firearm involved. The altercation was going down in Spencerville, an ad-hoc collection of homes, beat up cars, and dust, that lies just off the highway that links up the towns of Aztec and Farmington. As the deputies responded, they heard gunshots, and called for backup. Three more deputies arrived, along with a New Mexico State trooper. 

As the five deputies approached the area from which the shots came, the trooper flanked off to one side, armed with an AR-15. He saw a “silhouette of a person raising a weapon,” according to a court document, and fired two shots. When a male voice screamed that the trooper had missed, he ran to another location, took aim and fired two more shots. The “silhouette,” a 27-year-old Navajo man named Myles Roughsurface, fell to the ground, dead. 

Roughsurface was the third person killed at the hands of law enforcement officers in San Juan County this year, and the tenth in New Mexico. As of early December, the cop-related death toll for 11 Western states was at least 181, based on a Wikipedia survey of media reports. National attention has, of late, been on the police killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner in Missouri, Ohio and New York, respectively. But when it comes to the rate of police-related killings per capita, the West is the worst. Continue reading....