Through the years, there’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking through the years regarding the police response to people brandishing BB guns and such. Now, a body cam video out of Utah shows just how quickly police are required to react when they see anything resembling a gun.
It started with a phone call. A resident called 911, saying a young man knocked on her door and asked for someone she didn’t know. She says the young man stayed in a car parked outside her house with three other people.
Cpl. Vance and Officer Sillitoe arrived and were speaking to four people inside the vehicle, which had dark tinted windows.
They were in the process of letting the group go when they found out a passenger in the back seat had given a fake name.
What you see in the video is what happened when Officer Sillitoe confronted that person.
Orem Police confirmed 19-year-old Anton Bay is the person in the back seat who gave a fake name and pointed what appeared to be a gun at police.
The firearm was a BB gun but officers didn’t know that until they grabbed it from Bay’s hands.
It took just seconds. Based on the body cam footage, it’s almost impossible to tell what the object is, only that it’s being pointed at the officer and appears to be a gun.
Police responded quickly, and without needing to fire their own weapons, but that’s not always the case. They were only able to respond that way because the clicking when the trigger pulled indicated the firearm wasn’t operational for whatever reason. They knew they could react in a more measured way.
At least one officer was fortunate things worked out this way.
But what if they hadn’t? Had weapons been already drawn and ready?
The truth is, anyone with half a brain can see just how quickly things happen. There isn’t much time at all for an officer to make a determination. They have to react, and quickly. Otherwise, people could die, people like one or both of the officers.
When bad things happen, it’s simple to look at it and wonder just how can you not see it’s a BB gun…when you have a nice long look at a picture that’s not moving or pointed at you with what seems to be hostile intent.
For a cop on the street or an armed private citizen, it’s a lot more complicated than that. You have fractions of a second to determine just what is what.
In this case, there was no loss of life, despite the appearance that the suspect was possibly trying to commit “suicide by cop” since he pointed a BB gun at the officers and then later asked the officers to kill him.
Remember this next time someone starts pontificating on just how the police should be able to identify exactly what kind of gun they’re faced with in the dark. It’s easy to armchair quarterback a situation well after the fact, but quite another to deal with it in a matter of seconds on a dark night in a tense situation.