There has been a lot of “discussion” (by which I mean silly people talking complete spinach) about the use of lethal force lately. In these “discussions” people with very high opinions of themselves theorize about how these incidents go down and the motivations, thoughts, and feelings of the people involved in them.
It’s almost always absolute crap.
When police shoot someone who is the wrong color, or who has a potentially sympathetic story (even if the story is a complete fabrication) the “discussion” proceeds along on the assumption that the cop involved is some sort of degenerate who gets his rocks off by killing people. Like police officers here in the States as a matter of policy shoot first and ask questions later and are happy to do it…especially if the person who ends up shot is black. You’ll note that the people offering these opinions have never been even close to a life-or-death situation in their lives, but that doesn’t matter: They went to the right schools, you see, and have all the right opinions…and deciding what is “justice” in these situations is something they can easily accomplish from the comfort of their brunch table.
…but you know me, I like to actually test assumptions to see if they hold up. So how about we actually carefully examine a police shooting to see if we can find evidence of this undercurrent of racism and brutality that the intellectuals in our society are able to so easily discern:
The background on that shooting: The police officer was called to that church by the pastor (as you can hear the pastor himself say in the video) because the deceased young man had threatened to kill a woman at a wedding being held at that church. The officer arrives on scene, finds the guy he’s looking for, and takes steps to try and secure him before anything bad happens…but the deceased young man had other ideas.
Now for a lesson in the power of video editing…the embedded video above is a chopped version of the full video released by the police department. I want you to follow this link and watch the video there as well:
In the full video you can hear the officer’s heavy breathing…he’s feeling the effects of the adrenaline and a heart rate that’s got to feel like the organ is about to punch through his chest wall at any minute. At about the 6:00 mark you can see the officer’s reaction to the shooting as he comes out of the shock of the event. He slams his fists into a nearby cruiser out of frustration and emotion. A fellow officer collects him and is going to take him to the station…and at the 7:00 mark you hear the police officer say “…Why did he have to do that?”
Why did he have to do that? I ask you: Does that sound like the statement of somebody who wanted things to happen that way?
Of course, police officers aren’t the only ones who get this treatment. Anyone who owns a firearm for personal defense is often classified as some sort of degenerate looking for an opportunity to kill someone and get away with it. They often refer to the “sick fantasies” or “violent fantasies” (just ask Mother Jones or the Daily Kos!) of so-called “gun nuts” (yes, I appreciate the irony of complaining about the use of that term while writing for this site) and since those people are WAY smarter than any of us (just ask them!) it must be true, right?
That video is the sort of thing that the enlightened people of our society allege does not occur. The idea that some machete wielding maniac is going to kick in your front door to kill you is supposed to be another one of those “violent fantasies” harbored by “gun nuts” who are just itching to kill somebody…and yet there it is. A machete wielding nutcase really did kick through that door so he could murder the occupants. The “gun nut” in his own house was forced to shoot the nutcase to save his life and the life of his loved ones in the dwelling.
…but does he sound pleased about that? When you listen to the aftermath of that shooting, what do you hear in the home owner’s voice? Listen again from 1:50-1:59. “I DIDN’T WANT TO DO THAT!!”
“I DIDN’T WANT TO DO THAT!!” is the story of lethal force in self defense. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a police officer or an average joe, they don’t want to shoot somebody. They didn’t want to be in a situation where their life was in such peril that they had to kill or grievously injure someone else just to stay alive.
This is the piece that’s missing from the tiny, closed minds of the Mother-Jones-At-Brunch set. They have to make everything into good vs. evil for their silly world view to have any legitimacy…and so the person who arms themselves must be some sort of moral degenerate because their limited understanding of the universe cannot account for a person who acknowledges the reality that they might have to kill someone to stay alive without having any desire to actually use the gun they are carrying.
The reality, as you can literally see with your own eyes, is very different.
Jesus, what was that guy’s door made out of? Paper towels? Granted the guy would have been able to knock it down given enough time and effort. Also, it looked and sounded as if the guy was either on illegal drugs, or off prescription ones…either way, reasoning with that sort of person is not easy. It’s so easy for liberals to say “Just negotiate with them, give them what they want etc…” but it’s a mark of a person who has no experience dealing with people in an altered mental state.
Especially when “What they want” is to murder you. Right at the end, the shot man says “You killed me”, to which the homeowner responds, “YOU WERE GOING TO KILL ME!” Then, the shot man says, pretty matter-of-factly, “Yea, you’re right. I was.”
Good read. Wish more people saw things that way. It seems it’s always the people that don’t have a clue, Running they’re mouths the loudest. Thanks.
It’s not just left-coast Harvard-educated elitist liberals who think that way.
I regularly read several gun-related “libertarian”-type blogs and quite a few of the commenters (and some of the bloggers) always think every police shooting is a murder, regardless of the circumstances. (A lot of these same commenters love to post “I’ll shoot anyone who sets foot on my property”-type posts, too.)
I’ve tried to explain the law and the difference between, say, an armed citizen’s duty to disengage and a sworn officer’s duty to pursue and apprehend. Doesn’t do any good.
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies.
Sounds like the same sort of people that say to shoot them on your porch, then drag them in.
The major problem isn’t that cops want to shoot people immediately, its how we have trained cops the last few decades for the most part to react immediately to certain stimuli and immediately engage. Couple that with a lawsuit heavy society, which prevents cops from handling problems before they become shoot scenarios.
Please elaborate on how we train cops. I’d love to know what’s involved.
And if they fail to immediately engage or miss a clue that violence is coming, we end up with this…
I’m not saying the police should shoot first and then ask questions, nor should we be complacent or happy with the way things are. But, force on force training (and the video above) reveals just how fast things go from sketchy to OH $#!+. I’m all for body cams, and I’m all for the process of evaluating every single shooting to see what happened, and what could have been done differently. Sometimes the answer is ‘nothing,’ sometimes the answer is ‘everything.’
I have done force on force training as a instructor, student, and role player, at a level you would not believe me if I told you. We would allow our local police force to come in if we didn’t have anything going on, worked with the FBI and the DEA. Using simunitions and hood drills, we saw a reoccurring trend with L.E. of turning no shoot scenarios into shoot outs, and getting absolutely owned in in lethal force scenarios that began at under three feet. One of my favorites is the hood drills where hood comes off and either you take a blow immediately or in a wrestling match. I have seen a FBI agent shoot themselves in the back of the head. Seen multiple cops have their weapons taken from them. Or similar to the above video, try and create space and out draw a guy who is already pulling a weapon out. It it always came to the same reasons, they were trained to respond to certain actions one way, see gun or knife, pull gun and engage. Which sounds intelligent until you are presented with situations where that isn’t the best choice.
I freely admit I am out of my depth here as I have none of your experience. If the training they are receiving is insufficient/incorrect, or they are ignoring it and taking the wrong action at the wrong time, what are you suggesting would be the better alternative? I’m not asking in order to be adversarial, but as an honest question.
If the police training is poor/incorrect in your opinion, that means you must (or likely do) have an idea as to what is needed to correct it.
Color is immaterial. Resisting arrest+Handgun pointed at LEO+threat=Bad S–T! It goes on, and on, and on and….
See, that’s kind of what I’m getting at. I have this crazy idea that when you’re convinced someone is trying to kill you that no part of your brain gives a rip what color they are, what god they worship, where they come from, or who their dad is. I’m pretty sure that your whole brain is pretty much just concerned with trying to stop them from killing you and all the nonsense that commentators comment on after the fact doesn’t mean beans in the heat of the actual moment.
Another problem is that people who should know better believe content from the media. There was an OIS in CA a few years back. Local media filed a public records demand for film from the cruiser cams. As luck would have it, there were two cams running. One camera showed what appeared to be an officer shooting a man walking away in the back. The other cam, from a different angle, clearly showed the shootee pulling a gun from his waistband and starting to turn. Both videos were supplied to the TV station making the request. Guess which one they showed. These people have an agenda and it is not getting to the truth.
The radical police haters believed the body cams would provide a means to hang rogue cops, this video proves they will do just the opposite by providing irrefutable evidence of a righteous shooting. Had the officer not been wearing a body cam it is likely one or more alleged witnesses to the shooting would have claimed the assailant had his hands in the air saying “don’t shoot”, was executed, and that the police planted the gun on his lifeless body.
Great post Caleb! As one who wears the badge, its nice to know there are those in the firearms community that recognize that the vast majority of officers want to do a good job and go home at the end of their shift.
I didn’t watch the videos, because I’m not sure they would actually tell us much. I do think any description of officers as “wanting” to kill black men or others, is probably false. I would be willing to bet most officers, at least the ones who should be, are probably haunted by the shooting afterwards.
But I do not think that this should inhibit talking about the use of such force. The last few months, among other times, have made it clear that there is a tremendous problem with the use of excessive force in this country. We need to talk about it and start to find some solutions. Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and others, should be alive and most of their deaths are the result of the inappropriate use of excessive force, as well as other factors.
We have to talk about it, otherwise no change will occur. We do not want innocent people to die, and we want the police to be treated with the honor they deserve. They need this discussion as much as we do.
Talking about it is fine. That is, in fact, what I was trying to accomplish with this post. The problem with your statement is the labeling. You listed Michael Brown’s death as an example of the use of excessive force, even though there is abundant evidence that classification isn’t close to accurate.
There’s plenty of room for discussion…but that discussion has to be based on facts and an accurate assessment of the issues at hand to have any hope of being productive. Stamping a broad label of “excessive force” on incidents based solely on a national media narrative that is usually completely divorced from the actual reality of what was happening in the moment doesn’t produce useful discussion.
A quick look at your blog seems to indicate that you’re not really interested in a useful discussion.
Just because my views are probably not in agreement with yours is hardly grounds to say that I am not interested in discussion. in point of fact, I visit this blog because I find It to be a sensible forum, where people are interested in thoughtful discussion.
Also, I agree with you that facts should guide the discussion, as much as logical argument. The fact is, Michael Brown was unarmed. Of course there will be instances in which unarmed individuals could be a threat to the life of a police officer, but being nearly 150 feet away from someone does not seem grounds to unload your pistol in them.
Anyway, so we disagree on this one.
The more meaningful point I think, is to talk about the decision to use deadly force, when it happens, how it has been made, etc. But also, the degree to which the use of force is an expression of power.
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