I’m going to have a followup post with more detail on Friday’s shooting death of Texas college student Cameron Redus soon, but before that I wanted to write briefly on a similar incident from last year in which another collegian was shot and killed by a campus police officer.
Fourteen months before Cameron Redus was shot down in his apartment parking lot, University of Southern Alabama first-year Gilbert Thomas Collar was killed by a campus police officer at his own college. Collar, who was naked in public at the time of the shooting, was reportedly acting erratically and aggressively, but he was unarmed. (A former high school wrestler, Collar was just five foot seven and 135 pounds.)
Collar’s mother, Bonnie Collar, said this about the shooting in an interview with CNN: “The first thing on my mind is, freshman kids do stupid things, and campus police should be equipped to handle activity like that without having to use lethal force.”
This is exactly right. Both Collar and Redus were unarmed when they were killed. There is no indication that either posed an imminent lethal threat to police or anyone else. Under those circumstances, the obligation of any police officer is to manage and contain the situation without an escalation of violence.
But as Bonnie Collar says, that obligation is particularly obvious when an officer is working on a college campus. Weird, inappropriate, even confusing behavior isn’t aberrant in the campus setting, and boundary-testing is an inherent part of the student experience.
A campus police officer who lacks the capacity to peacefully resolve a situation like the Collar and Redus incidents should not be carrying a gun. Period.