I’ve opened a number of stories talking about how tough a job law enforcement has. I grew up around it and heard all the “war stories” of my father’s fellow officers.
So, I know they sometimes have to make decisions in seconds that we can spend years criticizing.
But some cases are just weird and we have to talk about it.
Three San Diego police officers shot and killed a man who they said was suicidal and had held a handgun to his head Thursday, officials said.
Well, they showed him, right?
In fairness to the officers, there’s a bit more to this story.
When officers approached the man, he ran. Officers caught up to the man in an alley, where he put the gun to his head and asked them to shoot him, the lieutenant said.
The man then took off again.
On 42nd Street, the man “produced” the gun, Ralph said. Officers instructed him to drop it. “After not complying with the instructions, officers deployed less-lethal beanbags, striking the subject,” Ralph said.
The man fell, and as he got up with the gun in hand, three officers shot him, the lieutenant said.
The man, described as 25 to 35 years old, died before he could be taken to a hospital. He had not yet been identified as of Thursday evening.
Ralph said it was not yet known whether the man pointed the gun at officers or whether the weapon was real.
Now, I’m not going to get into too much criticizing of the officers’ actions, in part because we don’t actually know the full story. Normally, shooting a man who doesn’t have a weapon pointed at officers is a bad thing, but there may have been other reasons to fire, such as him potentially pointing the gun at others. I wasn’t there and I don’t have enough information to determine any of that.
Whether the gun was real or not is, in my mind, irrelevant. It’s not like he was giving officers an opportunity to examine the weapon first, now was he? When faced with a gun, you assume it’s real and act accordingly. Otherwise, you can end up dead.
It’s also not quite what the LA Times presented the story as.
When I first saw this one, it looked like the dude had the gun to his head and the officers just shot and killed him for that, which doesn’t seem to be the case at all.
I can’t help but wonder if the story was constructed that way in hopes of ginning up more anti-police sentiment. Or, they did it for clicks, which I get, unfortunately.
The San Deigo police did no such thing, and if they had, I’d be the first to criticize them for it, arguing they should have tried to use less-lethal means first. This is someone in crisis, after all, not someone who was interested in hurting others.
Yet, when you look at the story, they did. They used less-lethal. They tried to talk him down. They did what they could and, assuming the shoot itself was justified, it looks like they did everything right.
San Diego police didn’t just gun down some mentally ill man for the fun of it.