Demand Police Be Trained Not to Kill After Fatal Shooting of Black Teen

Target: Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department

Goal: Institute training programs that reflect the value of life and teach officers how to subdue without killing.

Carnell Snell Jr., an 18-year-old black man, was reportedly shot and killed by police in his backyard following a foot chase. Snell was a passenger in a vehicle with paper license plates that officers tried to stop, thinking it might have been stolen. The driver failed to pull over, and police began pursuit. Snell was one of two passengers that got out of the car and ran in different directions. He was chased behind a house that relatives say was his own, where he was shot and killed. Police say a handgun was found at the scene, but residents question the assertion that Snell was in possession of a gun. The names of the officers have not been released, and the other passenger and driver of the vehicle have not been found.

Snell’s family described him as a young man who deeply cared for his family, who enjoyed skateboarding, and who was always respectful. One neighbor who came to the scene said that she knew the community was “going to be hurting,” and that “a police officer should not be the judge, the jury and the executioner.” Instead, officers should be better trained to avoid killing people. This is the latest in an ever-growing list of fatal police shootings, especially of black men. Snell had not been put on trial and found guilty of any crime, and he did not deserve to die just for running from police. Demand that police be trained to value every life and not to rely on guns and violence to subdue people.


Dear Chief Beck,

The killing of 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr. is just one of far too many examples of police using excessive force to subdue a subject. His death was an avoidable tragedy. Officer training must reflect the value of every life, and officers must be trained not to rely on violence and shooting as a tool.

Carnell Snell Jr. was not convicted of any crime. He was a passenger in a car with paper license plates that failed to stop for police, who thought the car may have been stolen. Snell got out of the car and ran, was chased down, shot, and killed. This young man did not deserve to die, shot to death in his backyard, especially considering that some courts have ruled that running from police does not necessarily imply guilt — for a black man, like Snell, he may have run to avoid racial profiling.

Regardless of guilt, however, shooting and killing a subject should not be an acceptable method for officers to use in order to bring in a suspect. I implore you to reassess officer training methods and ensure that the proper value is placed on every life.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jamelle Bouie

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