Ordering a deceased man to get his hands up is just about as futile as convincing some law enforcement officers it is not justified to shoot unarmed civilians. But that’s precisely what the Oklahoma Law Enforcement officers commanded 38-year-old George Lee Seeton to do, immediately after they fatally shot the fleeing suspect on March 4th. Now, with the release this week of the patrolman’s body camera footage, the public can know precisely just how he died.
Seeton, who’s a convicted felon, reportedly stole the brown truck and was attempting to make his getaway. Trooper Mike Moler, and OKC Police Officer Jarrod Jackson pursued the truck, eventually exiting their squad cars when Seeton ran off the road and into someone’s yard. The suspect then put his truck in reverse, apparently attempting to back into the street to continue his getaway. That’s when both officers opened fire, killing him. The shouts for him to get his hands up fell on deaf ears as it seems Mr. Seeton had already succumbed to his gunshot wounds.
Oklahoma officials released the body camera footage this week revealing Seeton’s final moments on this earth. The shooting, accompanied by the various camera angles, will undoubtedly lead to a deeper discussion as to whether or not officers can claim a suspect was trying to kill them by putting their car in reverse in an attempt to get away.
From the camera angle, it does not appear as though Mr. Seeton was attempting to hit or inure either one of the officers closing in on him. But camera angles can be deceiving. A fish-eye lens may not accurately describe just how close the officers were to the truck at the time it began to back up. At any rate, the district attorney will decide if any charges will be filed against the officers who claim the shooting was justified.
The shooting and the release of the bodycam footage comes on the heels of the conviction of a Louisiana police officer, Derrick Stafford, for the murder of six-year-old Jeremy Mardis. The little boy was killed in a hail of bullets after police opened fire on the small SUV his father was driving. Those officers, like the ones in the video below, also claimed they feared for their lives. However, the jury didn’t buy it.
A jury convicted Stafford of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Stafford said in court he shot to protect Greenhouse from Few’s vehicle, which he believed posed an imminent threat when the father put it in reverse, possibly to flee the scene.” In other words, the officers claimed the proverbial “fear for their lives” defense but the jurors weren’t buying the now worn-out defense.
It remains to be seen if Jackson or Moler will be charged with manslaughter, in the shooting death of Seeton. However, it appears opinions about when police are justified in taking a person’s life are now changing. While rare, Stafford’s conviction brings new hope for those who believe the taking of any person’s life, especially suspects who are unarmed, is hardly ever justified.