OP-ED | Police Accountability Can Improve Actions and Protect Lives

Officers should get equal consequences as regular people who commit the same crimes

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News

By Lurdes Villalpando, Contributor

As we have witnessed Derek Chauvin being convicted for the murder of George Floyd, it is a start for other police officers to be held accountable for their actions. We are all well aware of the many shootings that took place last year and this year. You turn on the news or look through your social media feed, and there you see stories coming out of a person who was shot or brutally beaten by a police officer. People are caught in the crosshairs where they are killed by police officers whose purpose is to protect us.

The other Thursday, I remembered going through my YouTube feed and stumbled upon the “breaking news” section. There were many videos from news outlets posting about another officer-involved shooting. This time, a thirteen-year-old Mexican American, Adam Toledo, was shot by a police officer. The videos showed footage of Toledo carrying a gun and is seen throwing the gun and holding his hands up. As Toledo was following the officer’s orders, he was shot and killed.

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I remember feeling sickened at how a police officer killed a young kid who complied with the orders given by the officer. I then grew outraged that there was no need for the officer to fire his weapon because Toledo clearly did not show any actions where the officer might have felt threatened enough to fire.

It is unbearable to know that even if you listen to a police officer’s order, there is a chance that you can be killed. People are losing their lives and losing their family members because nothing is being done to stop these incidents.

According to Mapping Police Violence, in just the year 2020 alone, there were more than 1,000 deaths at the hands of police officers. Out of the total deaths, only 16 cases of police officers were charged.

The same should be said for police brutality. I can say for myself that I have witnessed police brutality.

My dad was driving our family for a day at Venice beach, and a police officer turned on his lights to pull us over. My dad complied and moved to the side and stopped, waiting for the officer to approach his side.

The officer told my dad to step out of the car, and as he was getting out, the officer grabbed him and pulled him forcefully out of the vehicle. Other police officers came and beat my dad for no reason. I remember sitting in the car crying because I did not know what was going on.

Their excuse for doing that to my dad was based on the color of my dad’s car. They proclaimed that they assumed my dad was part of a gang that is around the Venice area. My dad’s truck was a baby blue color that was the original paint on the truck. Assumptions like these are made and that is what leads to many people getting beat or shot.

Afterward, they gave my dad a ticket for having a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror and left like nothing happened. We went to court, and my dad presented medical records of his injuries but like a lot of cases, nothing was done to the police officers that beat my dad, and the case was dismissed.

As a child, it was horrible to see something like that. Many cases are similar to what my family has experienced. For thousands of kids and families, they witness their father, brother, sister, mother, or other relatives either get beaten or shot by officers.

Another video was taken by Jaime Hendricks recently surfaced of a man, Denorver Garrett from Kentucky, being beaten repeatedly by a police officer. In the video, the man was faced down on the ground while other police officers were arresting him.

According to Lex18, a Lexington news station, the incident occurred during a protest over police brutality and for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by a police officer last year.

Police officers involved in shootings and beatings should be held accountable. They should get equal consequences as regular people who commit the same crimes. Laws and policies should be placed to help prevent future police officer-involved shootings. Policies and laws should also be made in order to avoid any officer from doing harm to people.

To become a police officer, a degree should be obtained. Education needs to be given to officers so that they can be properly educated on ethnicity and gender.

I can speak for many who want to live in a world where police officers are helping to protect us rather than killing us. Justice has to be served and change needs to occur.

Lurdes Villalpando is currently a college student at Cal State LA.







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