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Why 10 bullets to disarm one man?

Saheed Vassell brandishes a metal object in surveillance

Saheed Vassell brandishes a metal object in surveillance video from the scene where officers fatally shot him on April 5, 2018. Photo Credit: NYPD / AP

Saheed Vassell, who was believed to suffer from mental illness, was gunned down by police on April 4 in Brooklyn [“Video: Lead-up to shooting,” News, April 6]. He was believed to have been carrying a gun.

Afterward, police said it appeared as if he had raised a gun in their direction. Four officers fired 10 bullets at one man, which led to his death, only to find out later that Vassell was holding a silver pipe, not a gun.

After thoroughly reading the articles on the incident, I could not help but feel that something needs to change. There are questions about whether these officers identified themselves to the suspect before shots were fired, and whether they tried to confirm whether he actually had a gun.

My concern is that people in a position of authority rush to judgment far too quickly before taking drastic measures. While there is no time to think in matters of life or death, there is no reason why four officers needed to fire 10 shots to disarm one man.

It’s scary to think that the same people who are meant to protect us are so quick to kill. Shooting to disarm and shooting to kill are distinct acts, yet the latter is almost always used.

Susan Velasquez, Port Washington

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