Last week Fox Carolina 21 publicized that on July 26, 19-year-old white man Zachary Hammond, supposedly unarmed, was shot to death — a situation the authorities are labeling homicide.

So far, the police has mentioned that the officer, Lt. Mark Tillman, discharged his weapon and fired on the teen in self-defense. The officer was reportedly providing backup for an undercover officer participating in a drug bust involving the female passenger in Hammond’s car.

Fox Carolina 21 further reported that Seneca Police Chief John Covington said when the officer confronted Hammond, “The driver accelerated and came toward the officer. ... [Tillman] fired two shots in self-defense, which unfortunately were fatal for the suspect.”

The Hammond family’s attorney, Eric Bland, said another autopsy was performed and those results contradict the statements of the police. Bland opined that Hammond was shot in the rear of the shoulder and in the chest. This recent development supports the claim by Bland that he was shot in the back instead.

As more details emerge, investigations are continuing to take place.

With the copious recent police brutality news stories surfacing, the police force has received unbridled criticism, reproach and disrespect from the general public. On one hand, Americans want to be safeguarded from delinquents and those who pose a threat to communities across the nation, but those same people don’t trust the instincts of these officers or the training required of them resulting in rising inaction from authorities.

These demands are contradictory.

It is effortless for Americans to openly denounce the actions of authorities from their comfy armchairs at home. Most people cannot, and most likely will never, comprehend the daily cost involved with sacrificially serving in law enforcement.

With the exception of a limited number of unscrupulous and unprincipled officers, aspiring police officers go through arduous training to continue to fulfill and capitulate the expectation of protecting our country, despite the continued disdain they receive.

These men and women should be commended for their heroism, rather than condemned for their actions. We are living in a country that is witnessing rates of escalating crime and diminishing intervention for this exact reason.

Ashley Gold of BBC News reported the “Ferguson Effect,” a term coined by St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, to describe police officers who have pulled back from their task of everyday enforcement in fear they could be charged for a crime instead.

While the deaths of Zachary Hammond and others like him are in fact tragic and unfortunate, the actions of Tillman, viewing him in light of the evidence and testimony we currently have, were completely warranted in this situation.

It is imperative that the due actions of these officers are no longer punished.

As people, we should be doing everything in our power to support law enforcement as they repeatedly lay down their lives to protect the citizens of the greatest nation in the world.


Lauren Konkol is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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