On Thursday, Morgan defended the officers’ actions as standard procedure because Middleton “did not comply.” Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo how police could justify 15 shots at a 60-year-old man, Morgan said the officers saw a metallic object in Middleton’s hand as he made a “lunging movement” toward them. Middleton explained this in his account: He turned around because he thought the entire thing was a practical joke played by a neighbor.
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“Right now we are comfortable from a training perspective that our officers did follow standard protocols,” Morgan said. “I believe the standard we use and train to is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which is a reasonable test.” The officers are on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation.
Although he described the situation as a tragedy, Morgan also noted “This is a common occurrence. We live in a very violent society.” That much is true, particularly for black men stereotyped by police. A study from psychologists at the University of Chicago found that racial bias can lead civilians to make the wrong assumptions in fast-moving simulations, and without proper training, it plays the same role for police. Over the years, dozens of unarmed black men have been shot by law enforcement.