Here is a tweet:
…so did Wilson shoot while running? He says he looked down in his sights, which indicates he’s standing still. But when did he stop running?
— Dianna E Anderson (@diannaeanderson) November 25, 2014
Just in case that tweet gets deleted, here’s it copy/pastad in all its lulz:
so did Wilson shoot while running? He says he looked down in his sights, which indicates he’s standing still. But when did he stop running?
Our readers who are shooters will probably have the same reaction to that tweet as I did, which is basically “lolwut?” But that’s because when it comes to using guns, whether for competition or self-defense, we actually know what we’re talking about. You know, and I know, that it’s actually pretty easy to use your sights while moving, and even easier to use them while “backpedaling furiously” as Officer Wilson described himself.
That is a pretty great example of how ignorance is driving the Ferguson discussion. What you’re seeing are people who don’t understand use of force, people who don’t understand firearms offering their unqualified opinions on what appears to be a pretty clear cut shooting, when you actually look at the evidence. That’s a key point here – the actual evidence. The autopsy of Michael Brown, for example. An excellent piece of evidence, that is conveniently ignored. Let’s take a look at that, shall we? The WaPo has a pretty good breakdown of the autopsy, which shows a few important things. First, Brown was not shot in the back. All of the rounds that hit him were from the front. Secondly, none of the rounds that hit him except for the final head shot would have been immediately fatal. We’re all familiar with stories of determined attackers taking multiple GSW to non-critical locations and continuing to fight, and an examination of the shot placement on Brown is absolutely consistent with Officer Wilson’s testimony of Brown charging him. The shots to the arm would have been painful, but not disabling. The shot to the neck and chest might have eventually stopped the fight from blood loss, but the only “shut him down” shot was to the head.
The third item from the autopsy is perhaps the most important: the shot to his hand was a contact shot, which combined with Brown’s blood in the vehicle corroborates Wilson’s testimony that they struggled for his gun until Wilson was able to shoot him off it. That’s important, because after that moment, all of Wilson’s actions need to perceived in the light that Brown had just committed multiple, serious felonies.
The next thing we want to look at is the use of force continuum. I’ve seen on the internet a lot of people questioning why Wilson didn’t use his pepper spray or mace, because he was “just getting punched in the face.” Use of force isn’t a ladder that you have to climb, touching every rung before you reach the final “Deadly Force” tier. An officer, or a private citizen needs to be able to articulate that at the moment they chose to use deadly force, they genuinely believed they were in danger of death or grievous bodily harm. We have discussed at great length the danger of getting punched, and in the case of Officer Wilson, he was being punched in the head by a physically larger attacker, and wasn’t in a position to fight back, because he was sitting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle. Using pepper spray in that situation is risky, because the range is close enough that it may splash back on the officer. Wilson’s available options appear to be either let Brown continue to assault him, or get his gun out. He chose the latter, which resulted in the gun grab attempt by Brown.
That leads us to the final question raised by ignorant people: “Why didn’t Wilson just stay in the car?” This is perhaps the dumbest question, because we all need to remember that Darren Wilson was A COP. It was his job to chase badguys, and in that moment Brown was a robbery suspect who’d just assaulted a cop. Cops aren’t trained to just “sit in the car”, especially after being assaulted. That’s just…not what they do.
What we’re really dealing with here is a massive display of the Dunning-Kruger effect. A lot of people, who are smart and knowledgeable in certain areas, are offering opinions on an event that they lack the technical expertise to understand. That’s unfortunate, because by muddling the facts that we have with uninformed opinions, it only serves to create further unrest by confusing people. Here’s the tl;dr summary: if you’re not someone who studies use of force and self-defense, STFU and say in your lane.