Yes it does read like a headline from The Onion (a satire news site), but that’s precisely how CBS 11/21 in Dallas-Fort Worth is reporting the shooting of a man in an Ennis, Texas church parking lot Monday night.
A man was shot and killed by police officers in Ennis on Monday night as a traffic stop came to a violent end. The incident started at about 9:15 p.m. near a church located along Kaufman Street. The suspect drove his Honda Civic into the church’s parking lot followed by four officers in two squad cars.
The Ennis Police Department said that the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Moses Ruben of Dallas, was stopped for going 59 mph in a 35 mph zone. He also had an invalid driver’s license and active warrants in two Texas cities.
A witness said that she was outside, getting ready to leave for work, when she saw police officers surround the car. The woman then overheard officers telling the driver to get out. But, according to the witness, the male driver said “no” several times. The gunfire started when the driver put his car into reverse and tried to flee.
“Four rounds. It was ‘pow pow pow pow’ back-to-back,” recalled the female witness, who wanted to remain anonymous. “And then, the car tried to back up again and he hit an SUV — one of a police SUVs — and tried to pull forward, trying to make a way to get out.”
The suspect actually rammed into two squad cars, police stated, and slammed into a metal fence while attempting to make his escape. The crash bent a portion of the fence and left broken glass on the ground.
According to the Ennis Police Department, officers were nearly hit by Ruben’s vehicle as he attempted to get away. The deadly shots were not fired until the car started moving in the direction of the officers, putting them in harm’s way. Three shots from two different officers struck Ruben. All invovled [sic] officers are now on routine administrative leave while Texas Rangers conduct an investigation.
A sea of officers from multiple agencies were at the church for several hours, but the scene has since been cleared.
Despite his attempts to flee, the witness did not think that the driver needed to be killed. “The officer that shot could have shot the tire. His window was down, they could have tased him,” the witness added. “They could have used another form instead of deadly force that resulted in this.”
The officers had probable cause for the stop, as the suspect was clocked driving at 24 mph over the speed limit (in many states, driving more than 15 mph above the speed limit justifies an arrest for careless and reckless driving). Once the driver’s personally identifying information was located, it turns out his license was invalid and he had two outstanding warrants.
Officers had every reason to take Moses Ruben into custody.
Ruben resisted arrest, which did not justify the use of deadly force, but what did justify the use of deadly force was when Ruben began attempting to use his vehicle to ram his way out of the parking lot.
Officers did not fire when Ruben drove into both police SUVs or the church’s metal fence. They fired after Ruben put his car back in gear and began driving towards the officers in an attempt to escape.
This is felony assault under Texas law, and justifies the use of deadly force by these officers.
I’d also note that in this context, facing a vehicular threat, two shots by one officer and one shot fired by the other would seem to be judicious restraint.
Shooting a car’s tire will not disable it or keep it from accelerating to 100 mph or more before the tire comes apart. You do not use a taser against lethal force threats (which an accelerating car clearly is), and if our opinion-spouting witness had a clue, she’d know that a successful taser strike on a driver of a moving vehicle will likely cause him to floor the accelerator as his body stiffens, creating an unguided 4,000 lbs missile.
Put bluntly, her opinions on what the officers should have done are stupid.
The now common practice of asking every unschooled yutz in the area their opinion on the shooting, as if it matters, a practice we’ve mocked before with good reason.
Why do reporters feel compelled to ask the general public about use-of-force issues that even professionals sometimes disagree on, when the average reporter, citizen, and activist is no more competent to talk about that decision than they are to critique a firefighter’s decision to use an certain tool for a vehicle extraction?
This is Peggy Liftmeup from Eyewitness News. We asked Bill Monroe what he thought about the Mayberry Fire Department’s decision to stabilize Cindy Chandler’s totaled Chevy Malibu before attempting to remove her from the vehicle.
“Well, they decided to use an Autostrut to prevent the C-pillar from collapsing any further before employing an RC-5 Guillotine cutter, but I just don’t see why they didn’t use a TVS kit and a Hydra-Ram instead. I think that was unnecessary and dangerous, and the firefighter who made that decision should go to jail.”
“You have a lot of experience with high risk vehicular extractions, Mr. Monroe?”
“No, but I have a fire extinguisher at home, and I fell off my bike once.”
“Thank you for your insight, Mr. Monroe. Back to you in the studio, Jim.”
Idiocracy was meant as social satire, not as a guide for news reporting.
Just because everyone has an uninformed opinion, largely based upon watching fictionalized police dramas on television, it doesn’t mean those people need to have those ignorant opinions aired.