Louisville Police Officer Shoots and Kills African Immigrant Wielding 7-foot Flagpole

via Louisville Metro Police Department
via Louisville Metro Police Department

He swung a flagpole at a Kentucky cop, and it cost him his life.

Deng Manyoun, a 35-year-old African immigrant who didn’t speak English, was fatally shot by a Louisville police officer Saturday after he charged at the patrolman with a 7-foot pole.

In surveillance footage released by WHAS-TV, Manyoun is seen outside a smoke shop as Officer Nathan Blanford pulls up in a squad car. The two begin arguing, and the man walks away and returns with a pole, which has a business’s red-white-and-blue “open” flag attached to it.

Manyoun—suspected of assaulting a woman moments before—charges at Blanford and wildly swings at him with the pole, which is made of two pieces and breaks in half.

Within seconds, Blanford makes the fatal decision to shoot. He fires twice at the crazed man, who falls backward, out of view of the security camera. Manyoun was rushed to the hospital and later died.

The 40-year-old officer is on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Louisville Metro Police Department.

On Sunday, Louisville activists denounced what they called a national trend of police using excessive force against people of color. They questioned why Blanford didn’t first try to subdue Manyoun with a Taser, mace, or baton.

Manyoun didn’t speak English, according to neighbors and the police chief.

“Either you comply or you die,” activist Tara Pruitt said at a meeting covered by the Courier-Journal. “De-escalation tactics are not used when it comes to people of color.”

Another advocate, Chanelle Helm, said Blanford’s response might have been warranted if Manyoun was “a criminal with a gun.”

“You’re telling me you can’t defeat a person with a flagpole who seems to be intoxicated?” Helm said. “An officer is supposed to be trained to protect people. He lost all type of control.”

During a press conference, Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad played a video of the incident and said Blanford tried to create a space between himself and the suspect, who was swinging the pole “in a sledge hammer-like motion.”

“Quite frankly, when you’ve got somebody coming at you with a dangerous instrument of that type…I don’t know…that the officer had the opportunity to transition to a less lethal option,” Conrad said.

Authorities haven’t yet interviewed Blanford to get his side of the story. The officer was not taken to a hospital and does not appear to have been injured.

Conrad would not identify Manyoun as the suspect or discuss his criminal history, despite Louisville’s coroner and multiple media outlets identifying him.

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, Kate Briquelet