Saturday, December 27, 2014

Killing in Question

"Failure to frisk puts killing in question. Mother says pat-down would have prevented cops shooting son in ER."

That's the heading and subheading on a front-page story on today's paper edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Basically, a mom wishes the state troopers had frisked her son before an ambulance took him to the ER. Because after he got to the ER, her son pulled out a gun, and wouldn't put it down upon request, at which point the local suburban police shot him and killed him.

According to the legal experts quoted in the story, there's no duty to frisk, as such. Police have fairly broad powers to frisk if they feel threatened, apparently. But they don't have to frisk every time someone yells at them.

Actually, in a lot of place, residents complain about over-aggressive frisking from the police. It's one of the complaints you hear a lot. You particularly hear that young black men get frisked disproportionately. And, yes, this guy who got shot was a young black man.

The online headline is a bit more subdued: "Family asks why man shot by police in hospital wasn't frisked after crash"

That's fair. You might well ask. But I don't think it quite "puts the killing in question" as the paper headline put it.

If I were going to question the original killing, I guess I would ask rather why it's necessary to shoot someone who is refusing to put a gun down. The answer that I will hear, I think, is that the police feared for their own lives or those of others. And I can see being afraid when an angry guy is holding a gun. I guess I would be afraid too, particularly if he pointed it at me. It's very clear that everyone is afraid of this guy, since they scramble in fear away from him.

There's some video from a news station here, showing some surveillance footage that doesn't show you all that much. There's some other footage here.

A couple of the news stories mention that 9 shots were fired in less than 2 seconds. Yes, that's how the police shoot you nowadays, a lot of the time. They practically empty a semi-automatic pistol into you, and they can do it pretty fast. They don't shoot you once and wait to see if you drop. That's regarded, I believe, as an unreliable approach.

The police report said: "The officers fired until the immediate threat was over."

In the unfortunate circumstance that you get hit with 9 rounds,
you're probably "over" before you hit the ground.

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