LA man shot by police, questions follow

Why do people point gun-shaped objects at police?

It’s a question I have every time I see someone get killed because they pointed an airsoft gun at law enforcement.

I mean, I get why someone might point one at me. They may mean to rob me or intimidate me, not knowing I’ve got a real one on my person. But some people point them at cops.

And that can lead to tragedy, such as a 19-year-old with an airsoft weapon getting shot by police.

Graphic police body camera footage has just been released showing a Los Angeles officer fatally shooting a teenager brandishing an airsoft gun.

Luis Herrera, 19, was shot dead on Sept. 17 after repeatedly calling 911 to get police to his family’s home, claiming that his father was drunk and was beating his mother and him.

Around 1:20 p.m., two officers with LAPD’s Southeast Division responded to the domestic violence call at Herrera’s home in the 400 block of West 102nd Street.

When they approached the residence, Herrera, dressed in all black, emerged from the front door holding “what appeared to be a black rifle,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a press release.

In the newly released bodycam video, an officer is heard yelling at Herrera: “Hey! Hey! Hey! Put that down!”

Only, he didn’t and he got shot for it.

Now, we don’t really know what was going through Herrera’s mind. Why confront police officers with a toy gun? It’s pretty clear he wasn’t going to hurt them, after all.

If I were to speculate, I’d probably consider this suicide by cop.

Especially in light of the fact that Herrera called in a report of domestic violence; one law enforcement has found no evidence of actually taking place.

Undoubtedly, there will be those who blame the police for this, saying they should have done…something. The thing is, how are they supposed to identify that this was an airsoft gun, not a real one?

Seriously, if you point something like that at me, I’m not going to bust out a set of calipers so I can measure the bore diameter. I’m going to assume it’s real until given a very convincing reason it’s not.

That’s what the police are going to do as well. That’s all they really can do.

The difference here is that the police ordered him to put it down and I’m not necessarily required to do any such thing.

That means Herrera had an opportunity to put the gun down. He knew the officers were taking it as a serious threat–he had to, considering their reaction–and yet he refused.

All of which is why I think we’re looking at a case of suicide by cop.

Which is awful on all kinds of levels.

Look, I’ve got some views on suicide that are probably less than mainstream. I’m fine with that. I tend to think people’s business is their business and we shouldn’t stick our noses into that business, even if it really is for their own good. This, however, impacts other people. Now, these officers have to live with the fact that they took another life, and one that we now know didn’t really represent a threat to them.

That’s baggage they’ll have to deal with for the rest of their life, so it’s not just one person’s business. It’s not someone making a decision for themselves, it’s them forcing the hand of others.

It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out, though, because I’m speculating on basic information in news reports while investigators will have a lot more info.