Analysis of police brutality using Atrocity Theory

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Philosophy

Document 1

As a result of this, most people in America have branded police officers as evil because of some brutal actions witnessed in different situations. The issue of evils such as genocide, police brutality and terrorism (Card, 2010) have been addressed by different scholars in different versions depending on how they perceive such vices. This research paper will use atrocity theory by Claudia Card to analyze police brutality in America. It will use a case study of Kelly Thomas who was brutally murdered by police officers. In July of 2011, Kelly Thomas was faced by two police officers when he was spotted pulling the door handles of cars parked outside the bus depot in Fullerton. While still trying to fight for his dear life, people could hear Thomas trying to apologize to the officers many times and cried that he was unable to breathe.

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The third officer, Jay Cicinelli (a corporal) came in to help his colleagues who were still pouncing on the pleading victim. Corporal Jay used his knee to hit Thomas twice on his head before deploying his Taser for more than three times. The helpless Thomas screamed painfully still insisting that he was not breathing well. It was during that time that the third officer hit Thomas on his head and face over five times using his taser. In her atrocity theory, Claudia Card asks some questions concerning what must be involved in philosophical theories of evil. According to her, “Are there evils we should tolerate? Are some unforgivable? What can make evils difficult to recognize? Is evil an inevitable aspect of the human condition?”(Card, 2002, p.

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Card asserts that these questions cannot be solved by just relying on philosophy. To assume that the death of Kelly Thomas was unfortunate happening is like denying the effect of such evils committed by the three soldiers has on humanity. It is saddening to see such cases of manslaughter been perceived as merely undesirable. The perpetrators tend to underestimate while victims decide to overestimate what transpired (Card, 2010). However, in the case of Thomas, it was different because the victim was beaten until he was unconscious to explain what transpired. It was until he died that Thomas could not explain to someone, even his father what happened because he was unable to talk. In such as case, the perpetrators (police officers) may have decided to distort the information by accusing Thomas falsely because no one could testify against them in the court of law.

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Further, Card defines evil as “severe and unremitting pain or humiliation, debilitating and disfiguring disease, starvation, extreme impotence, and severe enforced isolation are evils when they are brought about or supported by culpable wrongdoing” (Card, 2002, p. Thomas was tortured until he decided to apologize but none of the officers heard his cries until he suffocated. Therefore, the two officers are a true definition of evil based on what they did to Thomas up to a point of losing his life even after apologizing and pleading for forgiveness. References Adams, K. “What We Know About Police Use of Force” in Use of Force by Police: Overview of National And Local Data. Washington D. Leiden: Cambridge University Press. Singer, M.  G. The Concept of Evil.

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