There is no such thing as suicide by cop.
On Saturday night, Georgia Tech police officers responded to a 911 call reporting a suspicious person wielding a knife on campus. When they arrived at the scene, they demanded the suspect drop their weapon and remain still; when the suspect began walking toward them, one of the officers opened fire.
Since the fatal shooting of Scout Schultz by campus police that night, investigations have yielded a number of important discoveries. First of all, the “knife” was an unopened multi-tool not unlike the countless others that no doubt reside in the pockets of many of Tech’s students; secondly, the person who made the 911 call was Scout themself; and finally, several suicide notes were found in Scout’s dorm room.
Suicide by cop. Still tragic, of course, but an open-and-shut case. Armed with this newfound knowledge we can now confidently absolve the officers present of any wrongdoing.
Or at least, this is how liberals will downplay what we on the left know to be just one more unjustified murder of a marginalized person at the hands of police in a society in which violence of this kind occurs as mechanically as the ticking of a clock.
Suicide by cop. Suicide by cop! What a turn of phrase: if anyone here is the victim, it’s the poor officer, forced to act, robbed of his free will by the situation the suicidal individual has put him in, reduced to a tool with the sole purpose of taking another person’s life.
What a load of bullshit! But this is the extent of how far a liberal will go on the matter. From the left we ask questions. Perhaps this was a case of suicide by cop, that is to say, the evidence certainly points toward suggesting that Scout had every intention of being shot to death by the police that night. But why did that work? We live in a society where, if you so desired, you could goad one of the people whose job is supposedly to protect you into murdering you. Furthermore, you could do it fairly easily, and you could do it fairly quickly too! Why is this so easy?
Suicide by cop, my god! And just where do we draw the line with this phenomenon? Could we not say of anyone who refuses to drop their weapon, or refuses to comply with police officers, that they knew what was coming? That they were asking for death? Of course, the reactionaries say this all the time! Where’s the accountability when all murders at the hands of police are decided to be deliberate suicides on the part of the victims?
We could ask other questions, hypothetical questions, as well. Scout Schultz was intersex and nonbinary, they did not present as their assigned gender. Several outlets have reported that Scout was experiencing a mental break at the time of their murder. If campus police had arrived at the scene to find someone who appeared to be a neurotypical cis white male, would they have escalated as quickly? Would they have had more patience in attempting to de-escalate the situation?
Suicide by cop! The only legal form of suicide! It would almost be hilarious if it weren’t so gut-wrenchingly horrendous. Perhaps the most clever PR tactic law enforcement has ever devised! This wasn’t murder, it was a suicide! Our officer is the real victim! He needs counseling! He needs paid leave! Hell, let’s give him a fucking medal while we’re at it!
There is no such thing as suicide by cop. By its very definition there is no such thing as any sort of assisted suicide whatsoever, full stop. The fatal shooting of Scout Schultz was murder. But it was not unnecessary. It was not unjustifiable. And until we abolish the police state the murder of marginalized people will continue to be necessary to justify its existence.