• Press Release

Police Shootings Underscore Need for Reform of Standards for Use of Lethal Force by Police

March 11, 2015

NEW YORK – In the wake of lethal shootings of unarmed men of color by police this week in Madison, Wisconsin and suburban Atlanta, Amnesty International USA renewed calls for a nationwide review and reform of lethal force policies for law enforcement agencies.

Wisconsin has not enacted a statute guiding law enforcement’s use of lethal force and Georgia has a statute that does not comply with international standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.

“While the circumstances of both incidents have yet to be fully disclosed, they underscore the importance of ensuring that the standards for the use of lethal force are brought into line with international standards,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

“Deadly force should only be reserved as a last resort in the face of imminent death or serious injury. All incidents in which an person is killed by police should be subject to independent and impartial investigation, and we urge legislatures at the state and federal levels to pass laws that conform to international standards for the use of lethal force.

“Those who wish to peacefully protest these incidents should be allowed to do so in accordance with their right to freedom of expression and assembly.”

Tony Robinson, 19, was shot dead March 6 after a struggle with a Madison police officer. His death sparked protests throughout the capital. Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Air Force veteran exhibiting signs of mental illness, was naked and behaving erratically when he was killed by a DeKalb County police officer in the Atlanta area. Both men were unarmed.

Amnesty International USA released a report last year documenting human rights abuses in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown and subsequent clashes between protesters and police.