Avoid the gunman, but shoot the guy with no gun

There is a problem with this, but possibly not the most obvious one:

An armed officer assigned to the Florida school where a gunman killed 17 people last week stood outside the building during the shooting and did not intervene, the local sheriff says.

Deputy Scot Peterson has resigned after being suspended, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

“I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in,” Sheriff Israel said.

On the face of it, the officer should have gone in and tackled the shooter, as he ought to have been trained to do. The possibility of coming up against armed criminals is why they’re given guns after all, and considering an unarmed ROCT cadet of 15 years of age sacrificed himself to save his fellow pupils, it’s pretty poor that this policemen stood outside and did nothing. Worse, he allowed the gunman to leave the building, thus endangering more lives.

Sheriff Israel said Mr Peterson was on campus, armed and in uniform when the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus in Parkland began.

He said video footage showed Mr Peterson arriving at the building where the shooting was taking place about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired and that he remained outside for about four minutes. The attack lasted six minutes, Sheriff Israel said.

Asked what Mr Peterson should have done, Sheriff Israel said: “Went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

Mr Peterson is yet to publicly comment on what happened. Sheriff Israel said he had not given a reason for why he did not go into the building where the shooter was.

So we can add an ineffective deputy policeman to the litany of FBI and Sheriff’s department screw-ups which led to this incident. But the NRA is to blame really, oh yessir.

However, it has been pointed out on Twitter that policemen are not obliged to put themselves in danger to save others, despite many people understandably thinking they ought to, and it’s what they’re paid for. Personally, I’ll not criticise the individual too harshly. Nobody wants to go and get shot and this chap probably didn’t realise he’d have to face down a lunatic with an AR-15 one day; when the time came, he bottled it. Yes it’s cowardly but it’s also human and understandable. Would I have done things differently? I have no idea and hope I’ll never find out, but physical courage isn’t doled out evenly and some people find out they don’t have it until it’s too late. So yes, let’s beat up on this guy a bit but consider he’ll have to live with the guilt and opprobrium for the rest of his life. If his family don’t have him on suicide watch right now, they’re guilty of negligence.

The wider problem is that there have been several high-profile instances of the police shooting unarmed men recently. Firstly there was this story about a policeman in Arizona shooting an unarmed man who was lying on the floor of a hotel corridor clearly drunk and confused by the conflicting instructions being yelled at him by different officers. The justification for the shooting, heard at the cop’s trial in which he was found not guilty of murder, was that the suspect reached to his waistband and the policeman feared for his life thinking he had a weapon.

In body cam footage of the event, Mr Brailsford can be seen telling Mr Shaver to get on the ground and crawl toward him. Mr Shaver complies, crying and asking the officer not to shoot him. At one point, Mr Shaver puts his hands on his low back. The officer warns him not to do so again.

“You do that again we’re shooting you, do you understand?” he asks. Mr Shaver, visibly upset, says yes.

Seconds later, however, Mr Shaver reaches toward his waistband. Mr Brailsford told the jury he thought Mr Shaver was reaching for a gun. A detective investigating the shooting said the motion was similar to drawing a weapon, but was most likely an attempt by Mr Shaver to pull up his drooping basketball shorts.

The officer fired five shots at the suspect with his AK-15 rifle. Mr Shaver died on the scene.

Most reasonable people who’ve seen the video think this is absolute bullshit, but obviously the jury saw it differently.

Then there was another story of an entirely innocent man being killed by a SWAT team who were called to his house as part of a prank known as “swatting”:

In this case, Wichita local Andrew Finch, whose family members say did not play video games and was a father of two young boys, answered his door only to face down a SWAT team-level response. Allegedly, one officer immediately fired upon Finch, who later died at a hospital. It’s unclear why Finch, who is said not to have had a weapon on him, was fired upon.

Here’s the photo which accompanies the second story:

Many American police forces, especially the SWAT teams which seemingly every two-bit police department now has (and gleefully uses), go around in full combat gear and armoured vehicles looking as though they’ve come straight from Falluja. In fact, much of the gear the’re toting is indeed military surplus, which explains the look. In both the incidents I’ve recounted, the policemen were out in numbers, heavily armed, and wearing body armour and killed the suspect because he made a hand movement which someone thought might have meant he had a gun somewhere. The police defend such shootings by saying their officers have every reason to fear for their lives. Many of the public, quite rightly, complain that an officer “fearing for his life” when part of a small army and facing a man who may well not be armed ought not to be a license to murder citizens going about their lawful business. These instances are not cases of a lone patrolman suddenly being confronted by a criminal in a dark alley, but the police chiefs treat them as if they were.

Possibly the only way the American public will accept police departments turning up mob-handed and killing innocent people is if, when faced with a real dangerous criminal who is unequivocally armed and murdering folk, they will jump in without hesitation and deal with him. Instead, in Florida, we have a policeman deciding it’s all a bit too dangerous and not getting involved.

What this tells the American public is the police are happy to arm themselves to the teeth and shoot an innocent, unarmed person for making the wrong hand movement; but don’t expect them to tackle a lunatic with an AR-15 who is murdering kids in cold blood. In the UK, it often appears the more law-abiding you are and the less danger you present to the police, the more likely they are to visit violence upon you. It seems the Americans have unwittingly gone in for the same deal. Reversing that should be a top priority.

Share

40 thoughts on “Avoid the gunman, but shoot the guy with no gun

  1. “In the UK, it often appears the more law-abiding you are and the less danger you present to the police, the more likely they are to visit violence upon you. It seems the Americans have unwittingly gone in for the same deal.”

    Which came first, the UK chicken or the US egg…?

  2. “Yes it’s cowardly but it’s also human and understandable. Would I have done things differently? I have no idea and hope I’ll never find out, but physical courage isn’t doled out evenly and some people find out they don’t have it until it’s too late.”

    I don’t really agree with this, for reasons summed up by Mark Steyn and Kathy Shaidle:

    >Whenever I write about this issue, I get a lot of emails from guys scoffing, “Oh, right, Steyn. Like you’d be taking a bullet. You’d be pissing your little girlie panties,” etc. Well, maybe I would. But as the Toronto blogger Kathy Shaidle put it:
    >
    >“When we say ‘we don’t know what we’d do under the same circumstances,’ we make cowardice the default position.”

    Deputy Peterson has blood on his hands because of his cowardice in the face of duty. He didn’t even try to help in a low-risk way.

    He should definitely be on suicide watch; one of the chickens who put himself first in the case Steyn writes about killed himself in shame eight months later. And it wasn’t even his express responsibility to help.

  3. Deputy Peterson has blood on his hands because of his cowardice in the face of duty. He didn’t even try to help in a low-risk way.

    I’m not saying he shouldn’t be criticised or charged with cowardice. I’m just saying I’ll not be the one to go and lynch the guy.

    Steyn is quite right.

  4. He shouldn’t be on suicide watch, he should be left in a room with a gun loaded with one bullet on the table in front of him.

  5. No one knows what they would do once the bullets start to fly unless you have been specifically trained in that situation. My first reaction would be to see if I could assist the casualties in any way, but that is what I was trained for. Most people flee from danger, it’s human nature and to be expected.

  6. It gets “better”

    Many people have been wondering why the police didn’t arrest the loser before he shot up the school and the answer is they appear to have been nobbled by political correctness and bureaucratic goal setting.

    Specifically a desire to reduce the teenage arrest rate by simply not arresting teenagers

    see http://archive.is/cHkpA (and then http://archive.is/tyw85 for the rest of thread)

  7. I suppose, compared to a SWAT team in full battle gear, a deputy with a gun is the US equivalent of a PCSO (aka plastic plod)

  8. I expect a quantum physicist to be cleverer than I am. I expect a social worker to be more compassionate than I am (a very easy bar). I expect a surgeon to have better hand-eye coordination than I have. Is it too much to expect a policeman to have more courage than the average? I mean did they really think the job just involved issuing traffic tickets when they were recruited?

  9. @ Adam Thiele – At least leave a bottle of Scotch next to the revolver. It’s traditional.

  10. I know what is needed. Another armed police officer whose job is to shoot the first one if he doesn’t do his duty. And maybe another to watch over the second guy, because modern cops are not very trustworthy when it comes to taking on people who are not unarmed and on the floor. And so on, ad infinitum.

    Seriously, though, I’m not saying Peterson deserves a lynch mob. Only Cruz could possibly deserve that (in certain circumstances, that is). But Peterson should be arrested and charged with serious dereliction of duty. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and say ‘I can understand him doing that’. I can understand why someone murders someone else, but that doesn’t mean it can be overlooked.

  11. The point is the one Tim makes. Murders by other US cops, and negligence by this one, are often unmistakeable evidence of cowardice. The poor, snivelling creature in the hotel corridor: a manly cop would just have walked over to him and ‘cuffed him. End of panic. Jesus they are dreadful: a bunch of piss-the-beds.

  12. One would hope it would be part of police training to be taught that average law-abiding citizens are likely to be thrown into all sorts of odd states of mind when suddenly confronted by a bunch of paramilitaries waving guns and screaming at them.
    Odd, panicky movements might well be as likely as freezing I would have thought.

  13. …unless you have been specifically trained in that situation…

    he was an armed cop….

    Yeah, but if armed cops travelling in armoured vehicles can get away with killing unarmed men because they “feared for their safety” we can probably conclude that whatever training US police receive doesn’t focus on ensuring they keep their courage when things get a little sticky.

    It’s worth mentioning, as others have, that the rules of engagement US troops have to abide by in a war zone are much more stringent than those the police have to follow in the US. For American soldiers to shoot someone, they need clear evidence they are being shot at first. The police can just suspect the guy may be reaching for a non-existent weapon. Although several police forces get around the problem by buying toy guns and dropping them at the scene when they kill an unarmed person.

  14. “I expect a quantum physicist to be cleverer than I am. I expect a social worker to be more compassionate than I am (a very easy bar). I expect a surgeon to have better hand-eye coordination than I have. Is it too much to expect a policeman to have more courage than the average? I mean did they really think the job just involved issuing traffic tickets when they were recruited?”

    ^^^ THIS! ^^^

    Quite frankly, what was the point of him being there if he was not up to or trained to react to just this situation…?

    And if he wasn’t trained for it or selected to be able to react correctly if it occurred then other heads should roll too…

    How would it be if the military reacted in the same way when they came into a dangerous situation…?

  15. The news that there was an armed policeman at the scene has not exactly been widely advertised. I expect because it makes it harder to blame the NRA if this is known.

  16. However, it has been pointed out on Twitter that policemen are not obliged to put themselves in danger to save others, despite many people understandably thinking they ought to, and it’s what they’re paid for.

    Completely disagree. They are obliged to put themselves in danger to save others because that is exactly what they signed up for. Nobody cares if you go home safe at the end of your shift.

    http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/index.php?itemid=441

  17. Completely disagree. They are obliged to put themselves in danger to save others because that is exactly what they signed up for. Nobody cares if you go home safe at the end of your shift.

    I agree with the sentiment, and I like the linked post, but there have been court rulings on this. Legally, policemen are not obliged to put their lives in danger to protect others. At least, that’s how Twitter lawyers were explaining it early this morning!

  18. There are some proper lawyers on Twitter, some of whom are worth following. @popehat is one of the best.

  19. The Department of Education has a SWAT team.

    The National Parks Service has a SWAT team.

    What the Effing F good is a SWAT team based in one part of the country when TSHTF 1500 miles away?

    Looks good on some functionary’s resume, I guess.

  20. >The Department of Education has a SWAT team.
    >The National Parks Service has a SWAT team.

    Such SWAT teams are mainly good at bursting through the doors of unarmed and harmless suspects at 4am.

  21. It’s easier to contemplate shooting up a school when you know the only adults you will encounter are women and emasculated males.

  22. Being a cop can be a dangerous job that could get you killed in an instant of inattention or bad luck and sometimes they’re faced with problems where there is no good solution (i.e. Someone armed trying to commit suicide by cop). Most people will cut them slack because of that but the hotel incident especially is letting them literally getting away with murder. I can see having the first person crawl over to be frisked & cuffed to prevent the frisking cop from getting double teamed but what was the point of making the 2nd person crawl over? An exercise in control and or sadism I’d guess.

  23. I met a middle school cop once. She was an elderly, short, chubby lesbian with bad knees who would otherwise would be on a desk job (in addition to being a school cop she was the dept. spokesman). I asked how she managed rowdy, hormonal boys some were probably bigger and stronger than her and she said she relied on borrowing the authority of the other school cop : behave or I’ll call the 6’3″ muscled up former swat member.

  24. You are a bit behind the times. There were another FOUR (count ’em) deputies outside the school that did nothing:

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/27523/breaking-cnn-reports-four-broward-county-deputies-ben-shapiro

    It is standard practice for the first responders in the USA to form a perimeter and await reinforcements. It looks like this lot didn’t even do that. But laws to disarm you and give more and more power to Government agencies is the obvious answer, even though they will not use the powers they have already, eh?

    Furthermore the American police have no duty to protect individuals (following the Warren v. District of Columbia case), only “society” as a whole:

    https://www.nraila.org/articles/20131101/no-duty-to-protect

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-police-do-not-have-a-constitutional-duty-to-protect.html

    There are hundreds of such cases and a Google search will reveal many more.

    So give up your guns. You know it makes sense.

  25. “Four, and you suspect it might actually be part of the job requirement”

    My suspicion is they were ordered not to act…

  26. 3 days is pretty good, Hector old chum. How many days is it since the Las Vegas massacre? What evidence do we have – evidence that makes sense, anyway – of who and whom and what and why?

  27. Can people not see that having a shoot-out in a school is not a good idea, with panicked kids running in all directions? Neither is arming teachers. When the SWAT team does arrive, anyone holding a gun will be fair game; no wonder teachers are so opposed to that suggestion. But, sure, carry on floating ill-thought notions rather than confronting the elephant in the room….

  28. Lisboeta, If only we could try to train the police that if they encounter that situation they should not shoot the person who puts their hands up when he sees a cop but that they should shoot the person firing indiscriminately into a crowd of children.

    Shooting a school shooter is one possibility but if confronted with the threat of violence against themselves the spree shooter might surrender or off himself.

  29. @Lisboeta – so your “solution” is to allow someone who is determined to kill as many people as possible to do so without interruptions IN CASE A STRAY SHOT MIGHT KILL OR INJURE A CHILD?

    As I stated in a comment above, the Police will do nothing to stop the shooter(s) until they have assembled massive and overwhelming numbers that will assure THEIR OWN safety. It has been demonstrated repeatedly beyond reasonable doubt that as soon as the shooter encounters opposition, they stop shooting or commit suicide.

    But as this blog entry explains, you are a liberal and will offer no solutions to a situation but want a 100% guaranteed, error and failure free solution to be thought up by others to situations CREATED BY LIBERALS:

    http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/index.php?itemid=448

    And of course, there is absolutely no admission or even recognition that your policies and ideas created the situation in the first place.

    Truly, Liberalism is a mental disease.

  30. The image of a prolonged shootout between the shooter and teachers while terrified children run hither and thither lasting long enough for the SWAT team to suit up is pure Hollywood.
    In reality either the shooting doesn’t occur at all because the children are protected by armed teachers or the shooter is shot dead as soon as he brandishes his weapon.

  31. The National Parks Service has a SWAT team

    Is that because someone misinterpreted the 2A and thought it read the “right to arm bears”?

Comments are closed.