This entry is going to be a very long entry. Read it with interest, otherwise you may get bored.
I was not at the scene of the incident, so I could not tell the truth behind the incident. However, I would like to give my personal opinion on the manner in which the police did the shooting. This is not the first time the police shot suspects to death. I have nothing against the police. I know they have a huge responsibility to ensure that Malaysians live peacefully. But not everything can be settled through shooting, especially so when the shooting caused death to the suspects.
In this particular incident, the reason of the police shooting is questionable. I don’t think that the police needs to fire multiple shots in the first place. No offense, the boy was wrong for driving without a valid license and sneaked out from his house in the middle of the night without his parents permission. But can that be a justification for the shooting? Moreover, if I were in his shoes, maybe I would do the same. Just imagine, being chased by several people in motorcycles and accidentally knocked down a car. Then, suddenly being chased by police patrol cars. Any Tom, Dick and Harry aged 15 would probably becomes panic in such situation.
The police has reasonable suspicion to arrest him. Section 24 of the Police Act provides that if any police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a vehicle is being used in the commission of any offence, he may stop and detain the person [Section 24(1)(b)]. Section 24(3) of the same Act further adds that if the person fails to obey any reasonable signal of the police officer to stop the vehicle, the person is guilty for an offence and can be arrested without a warrant.
So, in my opinion, when the car had accidentally being stopped, the police should first tell the boy to surrender. In some newspapers, they reported that the police shot the boy when he tried to run over the police while reversing the car. My personal opinion is that the statement is quite absurd. By looking at the photo of the condition of the car above, it is impossible for the car to go forward. So, logically, the police will go to the side of the car [and not to the back of the car] if they wanted to check the condition of the boy.
And some newspaper reported that the police found a long parang in the car. Is it just a cover up to justify the shooting? Nobody will ever know…
Nevertheless, the mother told another fact to the reporters. The boy had already dead before it went over the side of the road and hit a house. This means that while asking the car to stop, the police had already shot the boy to death. I think this is intolerable. The police should not start firing the car if he knows that by shooting it, he may caused death to the persons inside the car.
According to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life [Article 9]. Article 10 further adds that the officials shall identify themselves as such and give a clear warning on their intent to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed unless by doing so, it will unduly places the law enforcement officials at risk or would create a risk of death or serious harm to other persons.
The point here is, the use of firearms can only be justified if it is strictly unavoidable. Even in criminal law, the defence of self-defence can only be invoked if he is in imminent danger, with no other means to save himself from that danger. In an English case, Rashford (2005) AER 192, the question in that case is whether the defendant feared that he was in immediate danger from which he had no other means of escape, and if the violence he used was no more than appeared necessary to preserve his own life or protect himself from serious injury, he would be entitled to rely on self-defence. The keyword here, besides imminent danger, is the proportionate of the attack.
Thus, has the police fired a warning shot [normally towards the sky] before he fired the shot to the boy’s car and subsequently the boy? Next, did the boy fired back [or use other means] to attack the police and put the police in imminent danger?
The police has many powers in order to prevent crimes but that does not includes shooting a suspect to death. According to Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. This means that a person should be considered innocent until it can be proved that he is guilty. If a person is accused of a crime, he should always has the right to defend himself. Nobody has the right to condemn him and punish him for something he has not done.
So, is there any prove to show that the boy is guilty? Even under Article 11 of the UDHR, he is innocent until he is proven guilty. The police must also remember that a suspect is not necessarily guilty. The word suspect itself shows that the suspect is not yet guilty but just suspected that he may commit a crime. May, not did.
And when firing shots to suspect, I suggest that the police should aim at body parts which may prevent him from running away. For example, the police may shot the suspect’s leg. Always avoid a fatal shot. A fatal shot will cause death to the suspect. If the suspect is dead, how can the police tender evidence to show that he is guilty? How can the investigation continue when the suspect himself is dead?
Photos taken from here.