Thoughts on Dallas PD shooting video

So a friend posted the video below, saying it made her blood boil. Fact is, I am not convinced she’s got anything to be upset about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always tragic when we as civilians or the police have to use deadly force. While tragic, it isn’t necessarily wrong.

In this video, the decedent’s mother answers the door for the police. When asked what’s wrong, the mother says her son is “just off the chain,” “incoherent, “talking about chopping up people,” and “bi-polar schizo” when the decedent appears right behind her with a screwdriver in hand. That’s a really important fact. The screwdriver is a potential weapon with at least a 4-inch long tip. If you don’t think a screwdriver that long won’t go right through a typical Level IIA or Level III vest and potentially kill the person wearing said vest, you’re wrong. It may as well be a prison yard shank and it’s just as deadly as a knife and unlike a gun, it doesn’t run out of ammo.

When, the decedent appeared at the door with the screwdriver in hand, we clearly hear both officers calmly tell the decedent to put the screwdriver down. We hear the decedent’s mother start screaming his name, “James!” And we see the decedent moving toward other officer in the video. We can’t see the decedent’s hands in the video. However, the change in tone of the officers’ voices and that of the decedent’s mother strongly suggest that the decedent wasn’t putting down the screwdriver as we see him move toward that second officer and his own mother, both of whom start moving away. It’s only then that we hear the first officer fire four rounds in a little bit more than a second. Then we see the decedent on the ground still moving as the officer continues to tell him to “drop the it.” The officers then make radio calls for help and go through the process of securing the scene which is exactly what they are supposed to do.

Now, one MIGHT be able to argue that a taser might have been a better alternative than shooting the decedent. That is debatable. I’d also say it’s an argument ignorant of the fact that tasers are typically a one shot, all or nothing device that doesn’t always work as advertised. If the taser failed to stun the decedent in this situation, the officer wouldn’t have time to insert a new stun cartridge to fire another set of darts in time to prevent the decedent from stabbing the second officer or his own mother with the screwdriver.

Legally and practically, the question will come down to whether the officer reasonably believed the decedent was using or attempting to use unlawful deadly force against the officer himself or a third person. The video, to me at least, strongly suggests the answer is yes. Under the law, the use of deadly force in that situation is justified and you’ll be hard pressed to find a grand jury to return an indictment (true bill) against the officer or anyone else in the same situation. Even if you did get a grand jury to indict him, nothing about this video suggests brutality, racism, or even glee on the part of the officers about the idea of shooting someone.

Yes, it is tragic the man died. And it is truly sad that his mental illness as well as his and apparently his mother’s inability to manage that illness led her to call the police to come deal with it. Mentally ill or not, if he’s moving toward the officer or someone else with a weapon in hand, the officer will react to a threat to their own lives or anyone else’s based on their training, the law, and a human instinct for self-preservation. And again, it will boil down to whether or not the officer’s actions are reasonable. But, if anyone wants to argue that what the officer did was wrong, please, give me a logical and factual counter argument.


A matter of perspective…Why I’m NOT mad at Hawthorne PD for shooting Leon Rosby’s Rottweiler

For the last few days, the FB and Twitter universes have been a buzz with threats against the police and photos being passed around featuring memes about the police arresting you and killing your dog just because you’re recording them.  Now I’m not saying some of this isn’t well deserved criticism brought on by over zealous officers over stepping their bounds and trampling on the rights of citizens. However, I don’t think all that is justified in the recent case of Hawthorne PDs shooting of a Rottweiler in California. So, allow me to play the Devil’s Advocate for a second before we crucify an officer and his department.

Having watched the video above, knowing what has happened as a result of this video going viral, there is no question in my mind the officer MIGHT have handled the situation differently if he had it to do over again.  But, I’m not faulting the officer either. Based on the force continuum taught in most reputable use of force programs and the law as I understand it, the officers’ actions are legally justifiable as it applies to all of us and even tactically sound according to many officers I’ve asked.  The officers’ priority during this incident was maintaining control of an active scene during which they had an unknown number of persons with whom they were dealing and it was obvious they were basically trying to lock down that block while the made entry on a house in the background. Leon Rosby interjected himself into that scene by parking on that block with his music turned up and stepping into an active scene where everyone else was smart enough to stay back or at least in their own yards as I could see with one person in the video. When asked to leave or at least stay back to avoid being considered an obstruction, Rosby did not comply.

Keep in mind the police were dealing with what appears to have been a barricaded suspect not 100 yards from Rosby. The officers told Rosby to turn down the music and step back. He refused and didn’t put his dog away until it was clear the officers were going to confront him again at which point he volunteered himself to be handcuffed. What he could have done before that was get in his car and leave. It’s highly unlikely the police would have chased him if he’d left. At the very least he could have walked across the street to the same vantage point as the person shooting the video above as instructed the first time. Again, if this was really about the police having a problem with you recording them, then how is it the folks who provided us the video of Leon’s dog getting shot, did so without getting arrested or molested in any way? And don’t you dare say it was because he was black!

Undercover HPD officer stabbed, suspect fatally shot | Houston

Undercover HPD officer stabbed, suspect fatally shot | Houston.

These kinds of stories make me think of my Dad as well as  friends/family still serving with the department. Fortunately, his officer’s partner didn’t hesitate.  If you’re in a deadly force confontation, shoot like they vote in Chicao…Early and often.