Am I the only parent of a teenage boy who lost their breath when they read about the fatal shooting of Seth Beckman, the 19 year old who was shot and killed by a Harford County Deputy because he was suspected of breaking into a closed snowball stand?
According to your August 23rd article, "Beckman was reported acting aggressively and irrationally at a number of nearby businesses in the hour before Deputy Feeney, who was responding to complaints about Beckman's behavior, encountered him at Sharon's Shaved Ice during the alleged break-in" and although not one innocent person was at risk, this deputy concluded that he had to shoot and kill this teenage boy because he "feared he would be harmed?
The article does not state that the deputy feared for his life, just that he feared he would be harmed. Forgive me but isn't that the standard fear every time a law enforcement officer responds to a call?? There's an inherent risk of harm every time one reports for duty but now officers are allowed to kill our children because they fear "being harmed." Really?
Furthermore, your article states that this teenager was believed by police, family and friends to "may have been under the influence of a synthetic drug similar to those that can be bought legally in Maryland" and the shooting "happened less than six weeks after a federal DEA official warned local parents and community leaders about the dangers of synthetic drugs."
This leads me to believe that the Sheriff's Department did its due diligence and exposed its deputies to the DEA information about the dangers of synthetic drugs including the behavioral effects when used. So the question that begs to be asked is why then, when this deputy heard the report that "Beckman was acting aggressively and irrationally at a number of nearby businesses" didn't he consider the very real possibility that Beckman was high on synthetic drugs and take an alternative course of action; like use a TASER gun?
I am outraged by this atrocity and if you haven't pictured these grieving parents and thought "there but for the grace of God, go I," you are one of the lucky ones. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2011, 11.4 percent of 12th graders-one in nine-reported using synthetic marijuana in the past year.
As for me, I believe what happened to Seth Beckman and his family is totally unacceptable and as a community, we need to have a serious conversation about how we expect our law enforcement officials to deal with situations like this and the alternatives to the use of deadly force. We live in a culture that is far too ready to resort to violence as the first line of defense and as a consequence breeds fear and mistrust. For the sake of every teen that's ever struggled with depression, lost their way and resorted to drugs, let's join together and figure out a better way.
Lynne Salkowski Mullin