In Long Island, New York, another potential police controversy is brewing. Once again, the police shot and killed a suspect, and once again, people are outraged. Because it was a white man killed by police, you’re not likely to hear this was pontificated on in the national media, of course, but it’s still a bit of controversy.
You see, the family of the deceased is upset because the man was wielding a pellet gun.
Eyewitness News has exclusively obtained police scanner transmissions from the night Suffolk County police shot and killed an East Northport man that reveals officers were told the man was carrying a pellet gun.
Jeffrey McClure, 26, was shot and killed by police on June 7 after investigators said McClure pointed a gun at officers and refused to drop the weapon, which they believed was a hunting rifle.
“The cops just did absolutely everything wrong,” said Donald McClure, Jeffrey McClure’s father.
He says he called police because his son appeared to be having a mental breakdown and was shooting the pellet gun inside the house on Grant Street, and that Jeffrey kept saying he wanted “to go to the hospital.”
Donald McClure said he called police because he was hoping they would take his son to the hospital for psychiatric help, and that he informed responding officers of his son’s wishes. Now, he is in disbelief that his son was shot and killed.
I get why Mr. McClure feels that way, but that doesn’t mean he’s right.
For one thing, a resident at the whole reportedly told police that McClure had access to other weapons in the basement, where he was. Second, police found a number of firearms in that basement, including a number of long guns.
Officers, however, seemingly accepted that McClure had a pellet gun on hand when they arrived.
On the audio, an officer, just after arriving on scene, says, “We have a subject with supposedly a pellet gun. I’m not sure.”
An officer on the scene then immediately yells, “He’s pointing the gun at me! Don’t point the gun at me!”
In transmissions moments later, officers say, “The subject is pointing the pellet gun at the units who pulled up” and “Be advised, he has a gun. They say it’s a pellet gun. He has pointed it at us.”
Officers didn’t fire, though, despite only having the word of others that it wasn’t a firearm.
Then McClure went into the basement.
In other words, officers had every reason to believe that McClure might have obtained a firearm and was about to use that against them. When he pointed it at them again, they defended themselves.
Now, I don’t believe police officers are flawless individuals, but I just don’t see what else they’re expected to do. When someone points a gun-shaped object at you, you don’t treat it like it’s not a threat. Far too many times, those gun-shaped objects are actually firearms, so you treat all gun-shaped objects as if they’re firearms.
Either that or you face getting shot.
While what happened to McClure is awful–after all, it sounded like he really needed the help–police aren’t about to risk their lives further by just letting people point things that look like guns at them in hopes that it’s still a pellet gun. Had the resident told them that there weren’t any firearms present, they might have acted differently. Had McClure not gone into the basement, they might have responded differently (though I doubt it. Again, they only had people’s word that it was a pellet gun).
Unfortunately, that happened.
Now, though, under the current anti-police climate, these officers are going to be thrust under a spotlight.
McClure’s family has hired a lawyer and apparently has an appointment with the NY Attorney General. In other words, there’s a good chance these officers who were making the right call will still face prosecution.
Same old song and dance these days, it seems.