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Revisiting the killing of Breanne Michelle Sharpe

I wasn’t gonna say anything about the police killing—sometimes referred to, in the interest of flimflam, as an “officer-involved shooting”—of an unfortunate young delinquent not long ago in Chico, but I’ve changed my mind.

An unarmed teenager, Breanne Michelle Sharpe, was killed by the Chico police, Sept. 22—just barely news these days. Reckless driving is now a capital offense in Chico, and what with smaller budgets all around, cops now do their bit for the crunch by eliminating the arrest, trial and conviction parts of the punishment system. They take care of the whole thing themselves, right up through execution. Very efficient, and sure to please the bean counters. The incompetence implied by but two of 19 rounds fired hitting the target is a separate issue.

The cops killed her because they were scared. They actually said that. The first one on the scene said she was backing up fast toward him, although I say maybe not so much at him as just away from the utility pole she had just run into. I guess he thought she was backing up to run him over, and rather than get out of the way, he tried to kill her. As it happened, the car kept moving—probably even faster, according to a forensic pathologist—after he shot her, apparently in the head, and she didn’t run him over after all. Oh, well. With two bullet wounds, she still had a slight pulse and was breathing shallowly, so they handcuffed her.

I’m sorry Ms. Sharpe got herself killed. She was apparently loose around the edges and good judgment seems not to have been her long suit, and now she’s dead. For some of us, mistakes are fatal.

Each of the three cops who shot at her said he was afraid. The only way Sharpe was gonna hurt any of them was with the car, so evidently all three were afraid she would run them over with her car (which was stolen, thus my judgment about hers). The cops must have been lined up, because I’m pretty sure Hondas go in only one direction at a time.

When did fear get to be an excuse to kill somebody? We make it easier to murder people by rewarding the fearful with a license to kill and then a paid vacation to help them get over the trauma of taking a life and get back to work. The State of California used to pay for the scalps of Native Americans, so maybe this is progress.

Sharpe had methamphetamine and amphetamine in her system. I haven’t heard yet what the cops had in theirs.