Saturday, February 14, 2015

Justified? - One death in which officers try to do everything right.


I write a lot about bad killings and ugly use-of-force incidents. I then get asked, "well what should the cops have done?" which is a fair question. One of the people I rely on is CIT and SWAT trained officer Louis Hayes, a member of the Virtus Group, a use-of-force trainer and one of the founders of the Illinois model. You can see his tweet above.

Here's a video of a police shooting, linked not embedded, in which police do initially show tactical restraint and back up out a house in which an encounter is deteriorating.

What's impressive about his is how hard the officers work to not shoot a drunk, armed (he picks up knives at various points during the video), mentally unstable (thanks to THC, alcohol, and perhaps other factors) individual. Like Hayes, I try to avoid rendering absolute judgment. Notice his "appears" in the tweet. But many other incidents I've watched would have ended with gunfire right away.

Instead, the officer keep backing up, backing up, calling for support, backing up, and trying to stabilize. It may be that at the end the officer makes a mistake by going back close to the house and allowing the suspect to re-engage (breaking a window, glass in the officer's face) and thus drawing fire, but if so it was within a context of trying to stabilize overall.

This time, the officers still shot and killed the individual. But if this is the standard for police conduct in dangerous situations, a lot of lives will be saved - including law enforcement lives.

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