Following the announcement that no charges would be brought against Virginia Beach officers who fired 30 shots at a car in the parking lot of a convenience store — killing a gunman and his unarmed girlfriend while their four-month-old son was in the backseat of their car — Amnesty International USA expressed concern about the lack of a use of force statute in the state of Virginia and the need for a national commission on the use of force and policing policies by the Department of Justice.
27-year-old Navy veteran India Kager was shot multiple times while parked at a 7-11 when her boyfriend became involved in a shootout with police, who fired 30 rounds at the car they were in, endangering bystanders and their infant son, who was not harmed.
“This case raises serious concerns about officers’ training on the use of force and whether the officers took any precaution regarding the bystanders in this situation,” said Jamira Burley, senior campaigner for gun violence for Amnesty International USA. “Virginia must enact a use of force statute, in line with international standards, which call for using the least amount of force necessary to respond to a threat and ensures that officers account for bystanders in any action taken.
“Police have a right to protect themselves and a duty to protect the safety of the public, but they must do so in accordance with their obligations under international standards pertaining to the use of force. Officers shooting 30 bullets at a car when there are other people – including an infant – in the vicinity points to a recklessness by officers that put bystanders at risk.”
Amnesty International USA urges the Virginia governor and Commonwealth Attorney to work with the Virginia legislature to enact a use of lethal force statute that complies with international standards, and asks for the Department of Justice to assemble a task force at the federal level to undertake a review of all laws and policies pertaining to the use of lethal force, as well as cases resulting in fatalities such as this one, in order to reform use of force and policing practices nationwide.