Now, no child in Dallas has been shot because he or she was carrying a toy gun. But other youngsters haven't been so lucky. A 17-year-old boy in Harlem. A 10-year-old boy in Memphis. A 16-year-old boy in Las Vegas. A 13-year-old mentally challenged boy in San Francisco.This brings up a question that I've had for years, but I guess that, until now, I haven't thought about it much when it was time to write a blog post: Why do police officers shoot to kill?
These were all young people carrying replicas of guns that were so realistic that police officers couldn't tell the difference. The officers shot all of them. They were doing their job of protecting.
In such situations, it probably was easy to be confused.
Seriously, I'd like to know the logic behind it. And I'm not necessarily talking about situations where someone is holding another person hostage or is in the process of robbing a bank or has already shot at an officer; I'm talking about a situation where an officer happens upon a person who has an object that looks like a gun, or maybe even has some other sort of weapon, like a knife. Especially when that person is a kid. Why shoot to kill? This is a situation that has happened more than a few times in the Metroplex in the time that I've lived here, and I've never understood it.
Here's how I see it: If the officer sees someone with a weapon, especially if it's not pointed directly at the officer, the objective should not be to kill the person. It should be to knock them down. Then that person can be taken into the criminal justice system, where an investigation and possible trial can determine what happened. But if the officer kills the person right away, he or she is acting as the judge, jury and executioner, and that's not how our system of justice is set up in this country....and to me, that goes double when the person involved is a juvenile.
As I said before, I'm not much of a gun guy to begin with, but this is something that's always troubled me. Any enlightenment from someone with experience in this area would be appreciated.
IN THE COMMENTS: I'm not getting very much support for my position so far, but I defend myself by invoking this 2001 story where Secret Service agents successfully used the shoot-to-knock-down procedure to apprehend a man who tried to scale the White House wall.
Today's lesson? How not to be a sitting duck: In one of last week's posts, we talked about the Wisconsin proposal to arm teachers. Now Dr. Helen reports that students in the Ft. Worth suburb of Burleson are learning how to defend themselves in case a gunman takes over their school. (And does it make me a hypocrite to think this is a good idea and that police automatically shooting to kill is a bad idea? Not to my mind; those are two completely different situations.)
At least the agents didn't shoot her: A Calfornia teenager found out that writing "Kill Bush" on her MySpace site wasn't the greatest idea; should she really have been shocked when FBI agents came to her school to talk with her?
Hallelujah for the wet stuff: When's the last time anyone here in the Metroplex can remember it raining all day? And there's more in store for tomorrow...