Sunday, October 6, 2013

Was this woman shot illegally by the police in Washington D.C.?

A few days ago a woman seemed to try to drive her car past security guards toward the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., where the US Congress is located. The American public was then told that the woman was shot because she seemed to be dangerous.

Yet, it turns out that the woman was suffering from documented (proven, real) psychological problems, and it seems that she had not seriously hurt anyone and that she was shot while she was trying to escape. 


In the USA the police are not supposed to use 'deadly force' unless a person is a direct and obvious threat to a police officer or another innocent person.  The police are not supposed to shoot at people who are running away.

This woman had a family and she had a child.  I honestly do not believe anyone had to shoot her.

Here is an article about this situation.  There are some great vocabulary words in this article:

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/04/20822396-was-police-shooting-of-unarmed-woman-outside-capitol-justified?lite

Here is vocabulary to help you understand the article:

First, I want to point out that news headlines are often abbreviated to save space.  The title of this article is: 'Was police shooting of unarmed woman outside Capitol justified?'  An unabbreviated title would be:  'Was the police shooting of an unarmed woman outside of the Capitol justified?'

to be justified - if something is justifiable or can be justified, this means the action was 'right' or acceptable.  

details emerged - details came out; if something emerges from the sea, it comes out of the sea - or a train can emerge from a tunnel

unarmed - no weapon

motorist - a car driver

left room for debate - there were reasons to discuss whether she should have been killed

to brief someone on the case - to provide the basic information about the case

26 rounds - 26 bullets were fired from the gun

Capitol Police and Secret Service officers - the US capitol building also has police officers and the Secret Service officers are supposed to protect the president and other members of the government.

whether they complied with - whether they followed the right rules

deadly force - when you shoot to kill someone instead of shooting to injure or wound someone

to be threatened by something - to feel that something is going to hurt or kill you

to pose a threat - you can use the verb 'to pose' with 'a threat,'  i.e.  Although the guy standing on the corner looked scary, he did not seem to pose a threat to anybody.

causing them to conclude - so apparently the police who shot the psychologically disturbed woman thought she had a gun because they heard a false report of her shooting at people.

to sue - to take a person to court in order to prove he/she did something wrong; if you sue a person, though, the person is punished by being forced to pay an amount of money

to allege - to make a statement saying that you believe something happened

brutality - very harmful and morally wrong action

erratic - strange, not predictable

to breach a barrier - to get through a barrier

lethal - deadly

more latitude - more freedom

protocols - the method that has to be used, the steps that have to be followed

delusions - false beliefs

to be under surveillance - if someone is under surveillance, he/she is being watched

anonymity - to hide one's identity

a barrier - some large object that can stop people from getting into an area

to pursue - to follow or chase

confirmed - acknowledged, verified, stated that this really happened

whipping the car around - turning it around very quickly

scattering the officers - making the officers move in different directions

circumnavigated - drove completely around it

unleashing - firing, shooting

to flee - to run away

a median - an area between two highway lanes

to contradict - to say something that is different from what had previously been said

a confrontation - when two people or groups meet each other face to face to deal with some issue or conflict

reckless - wild, not acting responsibly

a layman - a common person, a non-specialist

to de-escalate a situation - make it less scary, less violent, make it more calm

they didn't have the luxury of knowing that - they were not lucky enough to have that information, or there wasn't enough time to get that information. 

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How do you feel about this situation?  Should this woman have been shot?

What if she had been shot because some police officers falsely thought that she had had a gun?  Should these officers be punished in any way?  Was this just an accident?

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