Respect for Own Mothers of the Movement - Part 1
Excessive Use Of Force By San Diego Police

by Dr. Darwin Fishman
Darwin Fishman, Ph.D. Sociolgy Department, San Diego State Universty

I ran into Toby Diller’s mother yesterday at the Dennis Carolino March and Rally in City Heights. Tobey Diller was shot and killed like a runaway slave by SDPD on January 24, 2020 after a police pursuit on foot. His capital offence: drinking from an open container, typically an infraction equivalent to a parking ticket. He was face down in the street when the officer shot in the back of the head, execution style.  Dennis Carolino, 52, was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting that began when Carolino's aunt called for help. 

I am moved that Diller’s mother keeps coming to these public protests - especially ones not just her son.  I was also pleased to see Asian Americans lead this demonstration and to see more new faces and new organizations working on police brutality and excessive force cases.  Even so, our numbers are still small. l and we are literally still banging the same well worn drum of injustice at the hands of police that we have been banging on for centuries.

With that being said, I do want to highlight recent San Diego history and I want to make a case for why we need to dig in more and fight back with even more intensity and determination.  The Dennis Carolino case is emblematic of everything that is wrong with how the San Diego Police Department operates when it comes to mental health and with how and when they use lethal force.  When a relative called 9-1-1 to say that her Uncle was having a psychotic breakdown on August 24th, 2019, it is safe to say that the family was expecting help and sensitivity to Carolino’s mental health condition.  Instead the officers quickly ended up using lethal force when they encountered him with a shovel. This case is eerily similar to how Alfred Olango was killed by police on September 27th, 2016 in El Cajon.  Olango’s sister had called 9-1-1 and had asked for help with her brother and the police used lethal force too quickly when they came out.

Given this clear pattern of the police using lethal force for mental health related calls, it would seem easy enough for police forces to address this problem with better training and education, as well as holding officers accountable, through appropriate independent investigations and disciplinary actions as needed, for making poor decisions.  When a subject is not a threat to himself or others, then it is not only wise to be patient, but the police can be required to use non-lethal force. Using non-lethal force could not only ensure that there is no loss of human life, but it could also help solidify community support and trust in a police force that demonstrates through their actions and words that they value all life.