facepalm

A Ukrainian family in Charlotte (NC) believes the shooting of a rifle-armed immigrant by police wasn’t justified because his sister poorly attempting to communicate that the weapon couldn’t fire.

A witness to the fatal police shooting of a Ukrainian immigrant says she tried to tell a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer the rifle her brother held was missing a part and would not fire bullets.

“I yelled, ‘There is no part to the gun,’” Olesya Tabaka recalled. “The officer looked at me and then he fired.”

Tabaka told the Observer that Iaroslav Mosiiuk, 25, had his back turned toward the officer and did not appear to be threatening him with the gun.

She and her family say Mosiiuk was shot in the lower back about 14 seconds after an officer knocked on the door at their home in the 1000 block of Justice Avenue in north Charlotte.

Tabaka said she called 911 about 1 p.m. on March 8 because her brother was behaving erratically and looking for a gun that her boyfriend kept under a bed in a box.

“I was hoping the police would sedate him, take him to the mental hospital,” said Tabaka, a real estate agent who has lived in the United States for 10 years. “They could even arrest him. Anything, but kill him.”

The account emerges after the family and their attorney viewed police body camera footage of the encounter between Mosiiuk and Officer Brian Walsh. They viewed the video at police headquarters and say it reinforces their belief the shooting was unjustified.

Iaroslav Mosiiuk brought a rifle into a confrontation with law enforcement officers. A bolt-action “Remington .309” rifle (presumably a Remington rifle in .308 Winchester) will cut through both sides of an officer’s soft body armor.

The family feels the shooting was unjustified because A) they lost a loved one, and B) don’t have a clue what a justified use of force looks like under the law.

When a person displays a firearm or even a replica of a firearm in the presence of officers, they have to treat the threat as a fully-functioning weapon.Officers facing a rifle are not going to take an unknown bystander’s word for granted that a weapon is inoperative, or claims that a suspect isn’t armed (when they often are). They can only go on what they can personally verify with their own senses.

Olesya Tabaka’s semi-articulate, “There is no part to the gun,” means absolutely nothing to officers, nor should it.

While I’m sorry for the family’s loss, Iaroslav Mosiiuk introduced a firearm to the scene, and if he made a move that either officer interpreted as threat as to themselves or the public, then they had not just a right, but a responsibility, to end that threat.