Target: Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson
Goal: Fire police officer who shot and killed a homeless man armed with nothing but a walking stick.
A homeless man was killed during an altercation with a police officer because he attacked store clerks and the officer with his walking stick, according to reports. When asked why Officer John Johnston of Kelso, Washington didn’t employ non-lethal force, Sheriff Mark Nelson said that he was “not sure a Taser or a baton would have been an appropriate response.”
Certainly a walking stick could be used to cause serious harm to an ordinary citizen. However, if a trained police officer can’t deal with a person armed with something that could barely count as a weapon without using his gun in a lethal manner, then he is not fit for the force. There is no reason that a Taser could not have been used to incapacitate this suspect.
There have been far too many incidents like this across the U.S. where people have been shot down by police officers rather than being subdued by non-lethal force. Homeless individuals in particular are more likely to have psychological issues or disabilities that can make their behavior more erratic, but this doesn’t mean they deserve to die. Sign our petition to demand that Officer Johnston be fired for using unnecessary lethal force.
Dear Sheriff Nelson,
The death of the homeless man in Kelso, Washington never should have happened. Though he did attack store clerks and Officer Johnston, he was armed with nothing but a walking stick. Officer Johnston could have used his own baton, his Taser, and all of his supposed police officer training to subdue this man instead of shooting him, resulting in his unnecessary death.
You said that you don’t think the use of a baton or Taser would have been appropriate. How is it not appropriate to use non-lethal force on a suspect that has nothing but a wooden walking stick? A stick should not present an immediate threat to a veteran officer. Your officers also apparently had known about this man for some time and should have been able to handle him appropriately.
Too many people are dying at the hands of police officers who could have used non-lethal force. This is why people no longer trust the police–why a divide has grown between the cops and those they are supposed to protect. You have become executioners without trial. We demand that Officer Johnston be fired if he can no longer manage to handle situations like these without killing.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Nick St. Charles