Police can’t just go back to their cars and leave the scene once they get a call for service. No, they need to investigate and help ensure the public safety. After all, public safety is their goal and mission, right?
While the buzzword de-escalation is the go-to term for media, lawyers and police executives alike, de-escalation and deflection from bigger problems is what cops do. Law enforcement does that on a daily basis. That’s our job. If the average citizen actually knew how often police could legally shoot people, but don’t, they’d probably appreciate cops a lot more.
Shoot, some police agencies actually consider giving de-escalation awards. In such a case, I think that every cop should get a medal. Why? Because, as I said, cops de-escalate on a daily basis. Sometimes police do so by getting more aggressive, which may seem paradoxical, but really is not when put into practice. (It’s pretty easy really. If you don’t want to get into more trouble or get shot, just comply. Hello people!). In the case of the recent Minnesota shooting, cops had to get aggressive after the suspect didn’t comply.
In the video, police asked the man who was high on meth to “drop the knife” multiple times. Officers wisely determined to block the man in with their vehicles. Clearly, the man wasn’t capable of driving. If the vehicle was running, he could have easily been given a DUI (or DWI, depending on what part of the country you’re from).
What the officers wanted to do was simply stop the threat. They made sure there wasn’t anyone else in the vehicle. They made a plan to stop the man. Had he complied, or had they gained control of him without killing him, they likely would have taken him to jail on public intox or disorderly conduct or some other petty charges, which may have included a drug paraphernalia charge because clearly he used up all the meth, but he could still have a pipe in his possession.
Or, perhaps the officers would have called for a medical transport and had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric wing of the local hospital. No cop wanted to shoot the guy. No cop starts off their shift thinking, “Hey, let’s kill someone today.” Instead of shooting the guy, in fact, they tried to blast him with a Taser a couple of times, hoping that would work. In other words, they wanted to subdue him without harming him. They didn’t want him to harm himself or others. Clearly he’s a threat to others and to himself. And, the officers assumed that if he took off running with the knife, he’d be a huge threat to citizens.
All the officers were cognizant of crossfire. That was good thinking and good communication. I can pick out the rookie, though. Can’t you? He had an Asp baton in one hand and his pistol in the other. Whenever you grab something, you must be aware of a sympathetic reflex. What you grab in your off hand, you may mimic with your gun hand. In other words, that’s highly dangerous to grip or swing one hand while holding a gun. Keeping your finger off the trigger is essential, but not always easy to do unless you’ve had a lot of muscle memory ingrained through experience and training, especially when you’re swinging a baton around.
The more senior officer, perhaps the rookie’s Field Training Officer (FTO), tells him to put the gun away—this, after several times of not being able to break the window with the baton. Anyone who’s broken windows before knows that you’ve got to hit them in the corner.
Fast forward a bit and the man jumps out of the car and starts running. Well, the officers already determined what they’d do. They shot him. It’s not excessive or out of line. To point, the shooting was ruled justified. Taking the totality of circumstances into account, and weighing on case law, like Graham v Connor, the officer’s actions were just.
One of the things I like is that the officer’s have some protection for doing their jobs. While all shootings can be controversial and emotionally taxing, consider the law that protects those who protect:
“Under Minnesota law … [i]n order to bring charges against a peace officer for using deadly force in the line of duty, the State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force was not justified.”
In the end, these officers were cleared of any wrongdoing. Suffice it to say, the grand jury knew more about the case than any of us, and given the circumstance, they understood that although the actions of shooting someone may have been shocking to the conscience, it was nonetheless justified.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.
Safety warning: Jeffrey Denning is a long time self-defense professional and any training methods or information he describes in his articles are intended to be put into practice only by serious shooters with proper training. Please read, but do not attempt anything posted here without first seeking out proper training.