Students at the University of South Alabama are planning a protest over the killing of student Gilbert Collar. In a story that has gained national attention, Collar was shot and killed by police officer Trevis Austin. The 18 year old Collar was apparently high on LSD, and naked, when he charged and attacked the 27 year old police officer. After repeated warnings to stand down, Austin opened fire and killed the student.
The students behind the protest believe Officer Austin should not have used deadly force. Unfortunately, Austin was not armed with a stun gun, pepper spray, or a baton. All he had was a gun. There is video of the incident thanks to surveillance cameras. According to Fox 10 News, Collar’s family is expected to view the tape on Wednesday, and the media will be given a chance to see the footage on Thursday.
Police brutality is often a touchy subject in the US. Students who were protesting at UC-Davis last fall recently settled with the University for $1 million over a pepper spraying incident last year that went viral. Officers were caught on camera pepper spraying students who were sitting peacefully on the ground.
While this situation is tragic, at the moment it does not appear to be a case of unnecessary use of force. A police officer was confronted by a naked attacker who was threatening him. Of course, it would have been preferable for him to shoot to maim and not kill, but decision making is difficult when under attack. The surveillance video will shed further light on the specifics of the case, but based on the details we have been given this does not seem like a case of police brutality.
What this case does appear to be is yet another cautionary tale against the use of hallucinogenic drugs. LSD is a powerful drug, and although this type of situation doesn’t happen to everyone that uses it, there is always the possibility. It cost this young man his life. Police are currently looking for the person who sold the drug to Collar. If student protesters are looking for meaning in this horrendous incident, there is one staring them in the face.