Man with BB gun killed by police

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Anyone who has ever had a gun pointed at them can tell you that even a .22 looks like a .45 ACP in the heat of the moment. You don’t really break out the calibers and measure the bore diameter in that instant. You just assume it’s big enough to end you and act accordingly, which is why pointing a BB gun at police or anyone else who has a firearm is an epic failure of cognitive function.

Yet, that’s precisely what one Illinois man did.

Illinois State Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting early Tuesday morning in Wood River.

At about 2:07 a.m. Tuesday police from Wood River and East Alton responded to a report of a man with a gun at Moe’s Corner/VP Racing Fuels at 851 N. Wood River Ave. in Wood River.

According to state police, when officers arrived the suspect, Tyler M. Marler, 31, of East St. Louis, pointed a black metal BB pistol at them. Officers fired at and struck the suspect.

The suspect died at the hospital a short time later.

In the process, he epitomized the phrase “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

If you’re going to put a BB gun at people, doing so at the police isn’t really your best option. If so, they’re going to end you, and for good reason. After all, they can’t tell it’s a BB gun. They have no way of knowing, especially at two in the morning.

Instead, all they see is a gun-shaped object being pointed at them. They have to assume it’s a firearm. If Marler failed to do as instructed, they have no choice but to fire themselves before they get hurt.

Really, it’s no different for an armed citizen in that regard. You don’t wait to examine the gun before you shoot. That’s not remotely a viable option.

So if you point a BB gun or a toy gun or anything that looks like a gun – including actual guns, obviously – at police, you’re going to get your butt shot. Do the same with an armed citizen, and you’ll get the same results.

Look, some people may just be screwing around and get caught up in a bad situation, but when the police tell you to drop the gun, you drop it. You damn sure don’t point it at them or someone else.

I have little doubt that someone will try and make the police out to be the bad guys here, but the truth of the matter is that there’s nothing they should have done differently from what we can tell.

That said, the matter is being investigated by state police, who will make a formal determination. I suspect they’ll find this to be a justifiable shoot.

What I’m most surprised about is that we don’t have a bunch of people protesting police brutality for using lethal force in what looks like a justifiable circumstance. The anti-police crowd must be taking the winter off, which really shouldn’t be surprising.