Saturday, November 20, 2010

Officers Cleared in Shooting Death

This article happens to be about a man shot and killed by police in north central Ohio, but it could have happened in any state or area. I don't personally know anyone involved in the incident, so I feel I can be an impartial observer.

I can't say I know how I'd react if two men walked toward me in the dark bearing lit flashlights stone sober, let alone after a drink or two. But I am certain I'd be startled, with my first instinct to head inside the house.

I am not arguing that it was imprudent of the victim to sit on his porch with a gun, considering the circumstances with neighbors, but a person doesn't have to die for being imprudent.

In reading the investigative interviews of the involved police officers, it isn't clear to me the victim knew they were policemen. It isn't clear to me that one or both of the officers advised the man to drop his gun, which they don't indicate was pointed at them, but was being held by the victim.

Yes, as a person in close proximity to someone with a gun, I would be apprehensive and anxious. The difference between me and the officers, though, is that they have training to handle such situations. Hopefully such training would allow their anxiety to be kept in check while the training they've had takes over.

Still, between the two of them they fired 24 shots, 15 of which struck the victim. The rest of the shots hit the porch or house. I think it's fair to say that the officers' intention was to kill the man, never to wound and disarm. It is fortunate that the shots that missed the victim didn't hit anyone who might have been in the house.

A man is dead; his family and friends mourn his loss. Is it a senseless loss? In my mind it is. I think the responding officers overreacted to the situation at hand and might have avoided the situation happening as it did if they had approached in their car and the victim had known for certain they were policemen.

I don't expect police officers to put themselves in harm's way with no way to defend themselves, but I do expect situations such as this one to end very differently. That, I believe, is common sense.

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