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mathewjgano
07-19-2012, 12:17 PM
http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/07/18/48483.htm
I've been trying to engage a conversation on this on FB, but thought I would share this here because I know we have a number of LEOs and people with considerable knowledge on the subject. What are your views on this terrible event?

I've heard a few arguments in defense of the officers, suggesting the victim shouldn't have pointed his gun at them (which is an assumption, but which also presupposes he knew they were police; they didn't identify themselves). My view is that the officers didn't perform the proper checks and committed manslaughter as a result (people have the right to hold a gun in their own home, as far as I know). Part of what makes law enforcement noble is the idea of putting themselves in the line of fire for the sake of the safety of the innocent, but this strikes me as being a case where the opposite was true. Whatever the case, it is a terrible thing and deos nothing for helping bridge the gap between the police and civilians who are cynical of them.
Take care,
Matt

genin
07-19-2012, 01:35 PM
Several things wrong here. Number one, why didn't the guy look through his peephole to see who was at the door? Number two, why did he feel the need to hold or brandish the gun before knowing who he was encountering? Number three, why on god's green earth would he point a gun at LEOs?

A cop can knock on your door and not say anything at all. They have the legal right to do that. It doesn't matter if they announce themselves as police unless they are entering the domicile forcefully. The rest is a matter of details which we don't yet know, or those which are hearsay. Some big question marks there.

This story hits close to home for me, having dealt with several incidents in the last year related to people messing with me at my apartment doorstep. I'm a weapons collector, so I have plenty of guns, shurikens, swords, knives,etc, on hand. Yet I chose not to brandish them. I honestly think it comes down to somebody with a gun making a bad choice. In this case, I feel like the onus falls on the man who was killed.

mathewjgano
07-19-2012, 02:27 PM
Several things wrong here. Number one, why didn't the guy look through his peephole to see who was at the door? Number two, why did he feel the need to hold or brandish the gun before knowing who he was encountering? Number three, why on god's green earth would he point a gun at LEOs?

A cop can knock on your door and not say anything at all. They have the legal right to do that. It doesn't matter if they announce themselves as police unless they are entering the domicile forcefully. The rest is a matter of details which we don't yet know, or those which are hearsay. Some big question marks there.

This story hits close to home for me, having dealt with several incidents in the last year related to people messing with me at my apartment doorstep. I'm a weapons collector, so I have plenty of guns, shurikens, swords, knives,etc, on hand. Yet I chose not to brandish them. I honestly think it comes down to somebody with a gun making a bad choice. In this case, I feel like the onus falls on the man who was killed.

I agree the victim should have exercised greater caution, but it was 1:30am, perhaps his judgement was affected by that fact, a reasonable thing, in my opinion. Also, cops don't stand in front of the door when they knock so the peep-hole might not have been sufficient for identifying anyone (based on personal experience where I thought I was prank-knocked until it came again). We don't know that he pointed the gun, but I would assume that people fearing for their life (a highly subjective thing, but one which should be taken into consideration when knocking on someone's door at 1:30am without identification) in a stand you ground state have the right to draw down on a perceived threat. If he did draw down, the fact remains that no cops were shot. Perhaps he was able to discharge his weapon, but there is no mention of this in the article whereas several shots were fired by the police. I would think such a thing would be mentioned, although that's no guarentee of course.
Unless there is more data on the perp, I'm surprised they were so worried: he was a former police officer who dropped the weapon (a cinder block) at the scene of the crime. It just reeks of gung ho attitude and no forethought. As police officers they do not have the luxury of making assumptions which cost the lives of innocent civilians...that's why it's a tough job: they put themselves in harms way for the sake of innocent people.
This (http://www.wftv.com/news/news/calls-shed-light-night-deputies-knocked-wrong-door/nPx8Q/) is the latest article I've read. These police officers seem to keep slanting the story to make it sound justified. I find it very dubious. There was mention of drugs found, and maybe that had a role, but maybe too they didn't.

genin
07-19-2012, 03:04 PM
The fact remains that there should never be a situation where innocent people have to draw down on cops that also have their guns drawn. Somebody, possibly even both parties, are at fault and had a major lapse of good judgment. The drug thing isn't helping matters either. Sounds like there's a lot of aggravating factors here.

If he was scared, then why open the door?!? Even if the cops don't announce themselves (which they should've at that hour), then you need to initiate a verbal response. When the dude tried to get into my apartment, I saw it was a stranger in the peephole and yelled out "Who is it!" And in the other incident, I stood back and to the side of the locked door with my weapon drawn, as I truly thought there was a real threat, and that was the best defensive position I could think of to put myself in.

I can't imagine swinging that door open sticking a handgun in somebody's face, irregardless of the time of day or night. I think that type of behavior has to be in someone's personality to begin with--being aggressive and unsafe.

mathewjgano
07-19-2012, 04:48 PM
The fact remains that there should never be a situation where innocent people have to draw down on cops that also have their guns drawn. Somebody, possibly even both parties, are at fault and had a major lapse of good judgment. The drug thing isn't helping matters either. Sounds like there's a lot of aggravating factors here.

If he was scared, then why open the door?!? Even if the cops don't announce themselves (which they should've at that hour), then you need to initiate a verbal response. When the dude tried to get into my apartment, I saw it was a stranger in the peephole and yelled out "Who is it!" And in the other incident, I stood back and to the side of the locked door with my weapon drawn, as I truly thought there was a real threat, and that was the best defensive position I could think of to put myself in.

I can't imagine swinging that door open sticking a handgun in somebody's face, irregardless of the time of day or night. I think that type of behavior has to be in someone's personality to begin with--being aggressive and unsafe.

I agree with the idea that poor judgement was used on both sides. My guess though, is that the man never would have presented his weapon had he known they were police. Likewise, I'm sure the police officer never would have shot had he known it wasn't the suspect.
I agree opening the door with weapon drawn is not wise, but this is where I think the stand your ground law migh play a factor. As I understand it (and I admit I do not know it in any detail) any time you fear for your life, you're allowed to engage the potential attacker. Not knowing it was police means he engaged people who will almost certainly shoot you if you point a gun at them. I believe this is a tactical error because I do not think police should ever assume innocent people will not be afriad when approached unannounced, particularly at that time of night. They wanted to shore up their bets in catching the crook more than in protecting potentially innocent people...as I see it presently. I think that's unacceptable. I hope that at the very least this causes a re-evalutation of tactics. The cops didn't account for an innocent man feeling threatened by knock at the wee hours of the morning; for all they knew they could be encountering a potentially innocent person who received a death threat 2 hours before and I think it's their duty to consder things like this.
Coincidentally, the drugs they found was a very small amount of marijuana.
My main doubts come at the change in stories I've heard attributed by the police. It doesn't strike me well that they redacted one statement and only started mentioning attempted murder after the shooting. At best, it feels like spin and there's no room for that, in my opinion, where an innocent person has lost his life. If they were hoping to minimize backlash, they've clearly failed.

Tengu859
07-19-2012, 06:55 PM
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Take care,
ChrisW
:0)

PS what's the other one about assumptions...

mathewjgano
07-20-2012, 01:24 AM
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Take care,
ChrisW
:0)

PS what's the other one about assumptions...
Hi Chris,
Good advice! What are the key assumptions and misjudgements you see in all this?
Take care,
Matt

Tengu859
07-20-2012, 02:33 AM
Hi Chris,
Good advice! What are the key assumptions and misjudgements you see in all this?
Take care,
Matt

Hi Matt,

When something like this happens it is indeed tragic for everyone involved. These men had to make a split second decision. Deadly physical force is the last resort. So these officers must have felt in enough danger to do what they did. I did not get the feeling that they were being gunho. When police officers encounter someone/anyone and they point a firearm at them this is what happens. Tragedy. Also, what is reported in the news and on the TV is never 100% correct when it comes to police involved shootings. Most times it's not even close(9 years LOE experience).

Thanks,
CW

genin
07-20-2012, 07:16 AM
Based off of what I've seen on tv, when cops go to a residence to apprehend a violent offender they will almost always have their guns drawn. The reason is because the person could open the door with a shotgun and blow them away in a split second. So the cops are on edge already and are trained to fire first if they see a gun in someone's hand. This is why opening your front door with a drawn gun is such a bad idea, particularly when you don't know whose out there. The guy didn't get a shot off because he was probably immediately shot the moment the door opened. The cops were ready to shoot to kill in an instant, he wasn't.

This also becomes an example of why a person should not open their door to confront a perceived threat, even if they are armed. The person outside can position themselves strategically, whereas you have to be holding the door handle to open the door--standing right out in the open. At best, you would have a 50/50 chance of getting off the first shot. But more likely you would both get shot or they would shoot you, which is what happened in this case.

Michael Hackett
07-20-2012, 09:49 AM
On the surface this is a terrible tragedy for all concerned. News articles are seldom completely accurate, at least initially and there isn't enough information to make much of a judgment in this one. There are too many facts missing such as whether the officers were in distinctive uniforms or not. It is one thing to answer the door in the middle of the night and find uniformed police agents and quite another to find officers dressed in suits, or dressed like narcs.

Another question currently unanswered is what the purpose of the officers was at that specific door. Did they believe the suspect was in that apartment for some reason? Were they doing a door-to-door inquiry and was that the first door they knocked on?

I wouldn't make too much of the police spokesman's retracted statement about the officers announcing themselves. As previously stated, there is no requirement for the police to announce themselves unless they are "demanding entry". In police shootings there are so many things happening rapidly that misinformation frequently gets put out in the initial stages of the investigation. Usually there will be at least two separate and parallel investigations going on at the same time. There will be a criminal investigation of the events by the department and an administrative (internal affairs) investigation.

There may have been some terrible errors here, there may have been irresponsible acts here, there may have been criminal acts here, but it is too early to tell from this single news account. It is tragic nonetheless.

mathewjgano
07-20-2012, 10:21 AM
Deadly physical force is the last resort. So these officers must have felt in enough danger to do what they did. I did not get the feeling that they were being gunho. When police officers encounter someone/anyone and they point a firearm at them this is what happens. Tragedy.
Thanks for the the reply, Chris. I appreciate hearing your perspective! I guess what bothers me is that this can (and should) be applied to the victim too: "He must have felt in enough danger to do what he did." Why is this considered acceptable motivation for the officer(s), but not the civilian?


This also becomes an example of why a person should not open their door to confront a perceived threat, even if they are armed. The person outside can position themselves strategically, whereas you have to be holding the door handle to open the door--standing right out in the open. At best, you would have a 50/50 chance of getting off the first shot. But more likely you would both get shot or they would shoot you, which is what happened in this case.
I agree, and this is one of the reasons I think the Stand Your Ground law is "begging" for trouble. In the last short while we can see it lead to the death of a teenager and (I believe) this innocent man. If citizens are effectively given encouragement to engage potential threats in an aggressive manner, it "pressurizes" situations into having a greater likelihood for violent injury or death.
I picture a person getting a knock at an odd hour; knowing it couldn't be for normal circumstances and becoming fearful, particularly if he was startled. Adrenaline dumps and, knowing it's his right to actively "stand his ground" in perceived danger (particularly if there was no reply to requests to identify themselves, which may or may not have happened) he thinks to protect himself by having his gun at the ready, not unlike the police do. What if it was some criminal waiting to shoot him? From our vantage there are a number of what-ifs at play, but I see the role of the police as being to protect the innocent more than to protect themselves and this is a case where the opposite seems to have happened. I think better protocol needs to be developed to prevent further cases like this...given enough time, it's an eventuality that needs consideration. Clearly I'm leaning toward the side of the victim in this, but that's because I see the loss of civilian life as unacceptable and demonstrative of problematic procedures...a weak spot that needs to be addressed. That it was a death gives it a seriousness of the highest order. The trauma of the man's girlfriend, his family and friends is likely far worse than that of the police officers who have to live with this terrible event. Furthermore, it has served to drive a deeper wedge between those that supposedly protect and serve and the people they're supposed to protect and serve.
I get the thinking behind not identifying themselves: "if we don't say who we are, he doesn't know who we are." Then again, if I committed a felony and there's a knock at my door at 1:30am, I'm going to assume it's the cops. I know there are a number of stupid criminals, but cops should account for the reasonably intelligent ones too. I sincerely hope the victim was acting like a fool; I hate to think someone died because a police officer failed to take necessary precautions.
Thank you both for talking with me about this.
Sincerely,
Matthew

mathewjgano
07-20-2012, 10:36 AM
On the surface this is a terrible tragedy for all concerned. News articles are seldom completely accurate, at least initially and there isn't enough information to make much of a judgment in this one. There are too many facts missing such as whether the officers were in distinctive uniforms or not. It is one thing to answer the door in the middle of the night and find uniformed police agents and quite another to find officers dressed in suits, or dressed like narcs.

Another question currently unanswered is what the purpose of the officers was at that specific door. Did they believe the suspect was in that apartment for some reason? Were they doing a door-to-door inquiry and was that the first door they knocked on?

I wouldn't make too much of the police spokesman's retracted statement about the officers announcing themselves. As previously stated, there is no requirement for the police to announce themselves unless they are "demanding entry". In police shootings there are so many things happening rapidly that misinformation frequently gets put out in the initial stages of the investigation. Usually there will be at least two separate and parallel investigations going on at the same time. There will be a criminal investigation of the events by the department and an administrative (internal affairs) investigation.

There may have been some terrible errors here, there may have been irresponsible acts here, there may have been criminal acts here, but it is too early to tell from this single news account. It is tragic nonetheless.

Hi Michael,
I was hoping you would weigh in on this. Thank you! I agree there are too few details, and I wondered about the uniforms as well. I'm assuming they were wearing them, although I know the dark blue or green I usually see might be hard to distinguish at night, if any attempt to identify was even made by the victim. My point about the retracted statement has more to do with the trust of the community with regard to sloppy behavior on the part of the cops. It doesn't look good and they should be more certain before making public statements. I'm hoping things become clear. I know some people will believe of this situation what they want no matter what, but I know I would feel a lot better.
Thanks again for the reply!
Take care,
Matt

genin
07-20-2012, 10:54 AM
Think about how many civilians/citizens/morons have had to be told by the cops to "drop the weapon". As though this isn't an intuitive concept in itself--if for no other reason than self-preservation. I mean, they see the cops, ok, that's the first flag. Then they see that the officers are taking an offensive posture or drawing their guns, which is a huge second flag. But yet they maintain their weapon in hand, waiting for the officers to yell the command to drop it. Um....DUH!

I know that this is not the exact same scenario, but the point is that there are some people who are so dumb that they would brandish firearms in front of cops without having any regard for their own safety. Ok, so maybe he didn't know for sure they were cops. But he knew how to load his own gun. He knew how to load a bowl of marijuana. But yet he doesn't know how to prevent himself from being shot by the police?

Michael Hackett
07-20-2012, 02:30 PM
Let's not throw the decedent under the bus yet either. There just isn't enough information to know what went wrong. What we do know is that the police were seeking another man for a serious violent felony. We know that they knocked on the door to an apartment. We know the apartment resident answered the door with a gun. We know the police shot him. We could write a book on what we don't know at this point.

In addition to some of the other questions I mentioned earlier, did the cops know the identity and history of the suspect they were looking for? That could be very germane in that if he was a former officer and they knew it, they would be wary that he might be armed and that he would know their tactics and procedures.

This episode could well end up being a catalyst to additional or different tactics. And maybe they did everything right and it still ended up wrong. Again, I don't know enough to say.

The Public Information Officer is in a tough spot. When there is a major event such as a police fatal shooting, the media is extremely aggressive in wanting to get out the story. You give them as much as you can, based on the information you have at the time. Sometimes that information is mistaken and you correct it as quickly as you can. If they give nothing, the media and citizenry gets upset. If they give out erroneous information, the media and citizenry gets upset. The most ethical and honest PIO can find himself in just that spot sometimes. Once again, I know nothing about the department and its reputation for integrity and transparency.

I can truthfully say that I don't know even what I don't know, so I guess I should shut up, huh?

genin
07-20-2012, 02:50 PM
I can truthfully say that I don't know even what I don't know, so I guess I should shut up, huh?
You don't have to go that far Michael. It's all an open discussion. We only know what we know. And we admit there are unknown factors which could change our opinions. Sometimes the finer details are just a distraction from the salient ones.

Makes you wonder tho. Just knocking and shouting "POLICE!" would've been REALLY useful in avoiding this tragedy. And on the flipside, the guy really should've said "Who's there???" before opening the door. Common sense is not all that common it seems.

mathewjgano
07-20-2012, 03:27 PM
Hi guys,
Roger, the police have to watch out for dumb people too...in fact more often than the intelligent ones, I reckon. I would agree though that if he mindlessly pointed a gun at an unknown person, he wasn't being smart and perhaps reaped what he sowed, as it were. If that's the case I see this as another example of why firearms sales should mandate safety courses...not that this would keep people from acting stupidly (I once scolded a USMC friend of mine fresh from boot camp for handling my shotgun "unsafely;" it was unloaded, but it didn't fit with how I was told to handle a weapon), but it would help to reinforce safer habits. I'm all for citizens having the right own weapons, but if we demand a license and some training for cars, I think gun ownership begs certain questions.
Michael, I don't think you should shut-up. I appreciate your considerbly more authoritative view (certainly more than mine, at any rate) on the needed behavior of LEOs and the different factors at play.
From what I've read the department recently shot a suspect (it sounded justified), but nothing out of the ordinary has popped up that I've seen. The officers, from what I can tell, were well-experienced. One comment I read said "the" officer was working an 80 hour work week, but I don't know where that info came from. Could be BS; could play a minor role. My take on this is largely top-down in direction: an otherwise innocent man was shot in the course of searching for a potentially violent suspect. The man was shot in his own home; if this means officers need better access to apartment management or records so they can see who lives where, then I see that as basic...particularly considering how much info is public record. Ultimately I'm just hoping to spark discussion to refine my own views as well as to bring this more into the light.

...Roger, do you think that question would have been answered?

Benjamin Green
07-20-2012, 09:27 PM
Think about how many civilians/citizens/morons have had to be told by the cops to "drop the weapon". As though this isn't an intuitive concept in itself--if for no other reason than self-preservation. I mean, they see the cops, ok, that's the first flag. Then they see that the officers are taking an offensive posture or drawing their guns, which is a huge second flag. But yet they maintain their weapon in hand, waiting for the officers to yell the command to drop it. Um....DUH!

The rational centres of your brain shut down under stress - keeping thinking while fighting is an extremely valuable skill, one the military takes years trying to train into people and still fails to do as often as not. It's one of the reasons that flanking works so very very well. When people go 'Oh my god, I wasn't thinking!' Well, they're telling the truth (for all it's a bad thing to say in some courts). It's not that they're morons, it's just that instincts that were created in a dramatically different environment are at play.

I know that this is not the exact same scenario, but the point is that there are some people who are so dumb that they would brandish firearms in front of cops without having any regard for their own safety. Ok, so maybe he didn't know for sure they were cops. But he knew how to load his own gun. He knew how to load a bowl of marijuana. But yet he doesn't know how to prevent himself from being shot by the police?

Mechanical skills don't require a whole lot of thought. Do something often enough and it becomes almost automatic.


For whatever reason this individual decided to answer his door at 1:30 in the morning, for whatever reason he decided to do so with a gun in his hand. Perhaps this was a stupid move, perhaps he's a stupid person, perhaps he was half asleep, perhaps he had taken sufficient quantities of drugs to be irresponsible, perhaps he was a hostile individual who was incredibly paranoid. Perhaps the police identified themselves, perhaps they didn't. Perhaps there was some secondary policy they were expected to follow but didn't that would have placed them in a position where his gun wouldn't have been as great a threat. Perhaps....

Realistically, however, there's far too much we don't know to say who, if anyone, is at fault here.

Personally, I would expect the minute someone sees a gun in your hand in that sort of situation that they will draw on you and fire before you can do it to them. That's just part of the risk of answering the door with a gun in your hand. If someone just catches a glimpse of it as the door opens they won't even know whether you're raising it to shoot them or not - and if they hesitate to shoot you over it, maybe they end up dead over it.

But that's not referencing the duty of care that police bear towards the public - if indeed they have such in the 'states - or whatever policy they were expected to follow, or.... Fault is more complicated than just what you find a potentially understandable course of action.

Michael Hackett
07-21-2012, 01:46 AM
Benjamin, there is a duty of care here. Basically, the police cannot use deadly force unless they, or another person are in danger of suffering a loss of life or great bodily harm. That's sort of the condensed version. There are a number of misconceptions largely driven by TV and movies that the police can't shoot unless fired upon, or that they must give a verbal command to drop the weapon. The laws are similar to aikido in that they appear simple on the surface, but are actually quite complex. Awfully complex situations have to be analyzed in a split-second, and then are reviewed in various forums for years to come. You can bet this situation will be analyzed in great detail, as it should be. Most of us will never know the outcome as we don't live in or near that community and it will be remarkable if we learn what was determined.

Tengu859
07-21-2012, 05:11 AM
Thanks for the the reply, Chris. I appreciate hearing your perspective! I guess what bothers me is that this can (and should) be applied to the victim too: "He must have felt in enough danger to do what he did." Why is this considered acceptable motivation for the officer(s), but not the civilian?

I agree, and this is one of the reasons I think the Stand Your Ground law is "begging" for trouble. In the last short while we can see it lead to the death of a teenager and (I believe) this innocent man. If citizens are effectively given encouragement to engage potential threats in an aggressive manner, it "pressurizes" situations into having a greater likelihood for violent injury or death.
I picture a person getting a knock at an odd hour; knowing it couldn't be for normal circumstances and becoming fearful, particularly if he was startled. Adrenaline dumps and, knowing it's his right to actively "stand his ground" in perceived danger (particularly if there was no reply to requests to identify themselves, which may or may not have happened) he thinks to protect himself by having his gun at the ready, not unlike the police do. What if it was some criminal waiting to shoot him? From our vantage there are a number of what-ifs at play, but I see the role of the police as being to protect the innocent more than to protect themselves and this is a case where the opposite seems to have happened. I think better protocol needs to be developed to prevent further cases like this...given enough time, it's an eventuality that needs consideration. Clearly I'm leaning toward the side of the victim in this, but that's because I see the loss of civilian life as unacceptable and demonstrative of problematic procedures...a weak spot that needs to be addressed. That it was a death gives it a seriousness of the highest order. The trauma of the man's girlfriend, his family and friends is likely far worse than that of the police officers who have to live with this terrible event. Furthermore, it has served to drive a deeper wedge between those that supposedly protect and serve and the people they're supposed to protect and serve.
I get the thinking behind not identifying themselves: "if we don't say who we are, he doesn't know who we are." Then again, if I committed a felony and there's a knock at my door at 1:30am, I'm going to assume it's the cops. I know there are a number of stupid criminals, but cops should account for the reasonably intelligent ones too. I sincerely hope the victim was acting like a fool; I hate to think someone died because a police officer failed to take necessary precautions.
Thank you both for talking with me about this.
Sincerely,
Matthew

Matt,

That's why we have the police. They put themselves in danger, so the average citizen does not have to. So in other words, if you feel threatened, don't answer the door with a gun in your hand. Call the police... :0) .

Take care,

CW

PS Matt disregard the quote. I'm computer challenged!!!

genin
07-23-2012, 07:20 AM
A lot of good points mentioned--fog of war, not knowing all the contributing factors, psychology of combat, etc.The most complicated part of this, which may never be reconciled, is that there was likely error on both sides. It came down to a man brandishing a gun in an irresponisible manner, and officers making a hasty decision which cost someone their life.

The general public could learn a lesson from this along with the police department and how they train their officers to handle tactical situations.