Should this trigger-happy cop stand trial for murder?

Rajan “Raj” Moonesinghe, 33, was shot and killed at his home by an Austin, Texas, police officer on November 15, 2022.

He’d just returned home, and thinking his house was being burglarized, walked around outside with a rifle, then fired two shots into his house.

A neighbor had called police, who were just arriving, and one of the cops yelled at Moonesinghe to “drop the gun!” and simultaneously fired at him, fatally wounding him.

His family says, “He did nothing wrong … he was defending his house and he didn’t point the gun. He was not menacing. He didn’t look like he was going to shoot anyone.” They want “answers from Austin police” about why their relative “was killed so quickly before being given a reasonable amount of time to drop the weapon.”

I’m wondering that myself. Police bodycam video released on Friday, December 2, 2022, makes it clear that Moonesinghe wasn’t given any time to drop his gun. The cop who fired the fatal shots was in no danger; he was behind a fence and Moonesinghe couldn’t see him, and probably didn’t know he was there. He didn’t point his rifle at any of the cops before being shot. The caller had indicated to the 911 dispatcher that he was the homeowner, but Moonesinghe was killed before the officers made any effort to find out what was going on or what he was doing.

Across the country, some cops are quitting police work, because they feel threatened by new laws that hold trigger-happy cops criminally accountable. Some major police departments, including Seattle’s, have staffing shortages that impact their ability to keep crime under control. But these aren’t sufficient reasons to give cops a blank check to kill.

Wandering around at night outside your home with a rifle isn’t a great idea. Shooting into your home is a bad idea. Some people might say Moonesinghe was asking for it. But is human life so cheap in Austin, Texas, or anywhere else, that a cop doesn’t even give someone a chance to comply with his commands before taking a life?

It seems pretty cut and dried to me. If the cop acted within his training and department policy, then he’s off the hook, and the fault lies with the police agency. If he didn’t and Moonesinghe is dead because of one cop’s itchy trigger finger, there should be a murder trial. That’s what I think. Watch the video and then decide what you think should happen.

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