27 May 2008

Was the Officer Wrong?

From Fight 'Em 'Til We Can't:
The Billings media is all abuzz about a nearby small town cop who arrested someone for misdemeanor DUI and negligent endangerment after the cop shot at the guy through the windshield of his own patrol car. Yeah.
So, I figure I'm off to watch a rookie officer make some major error in judgement. By sheer chance, I watched the complete version found on KTVQ's site on the upper right. The officer is following someone and lights him up. The car being stopped pulls into an alley. The officer stops his vehicle back some from the stopped car (I'd guess 20 feet). As soon as the officer stops his vehicle the car in front of him accelerates back into him, smashing into the police vehicle. Then it starts to take off again and, after going 100 feet or so, stops and pulls into a parking spot. The officer jumps out of his car and yells something about shots fired and things progress from there. However, I can't tell when the shots were fired. Maybe the reason there's been such a problem is that the shots were fired before the car moved?

Next I watched this from the Billings Gazette. Nope, the initial attack was completed and the attacker was moving forward when the officer shot at him/his car. This video, which is much better quality, goes forward and shows the attacker getting tazered twice as well.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was a justified use of a firearm. I don't know why people cannot get it through their collective heads that a car can be every bit as effective a weapon as a firearm. Yeah, the offender claims he put it in reverse accidentally. However, we've all done that and you stomp on the brakes and stop the car after a few feet; you don't accelerate to contact. The offender just threw a couple thousand pounds of metal at the officer - that's an aggressive, life-threatening act. The officer has no idea if the offender is going to jump out with a firearm or pull forward and then ram him again. He is justified in reacting in a manner meant to preserve his own life.

BTW: As most of you know, I am dubious about the use of tazers. Not this time. The officer was alone and had a man on the ground who had already put the officer's life at risk - he'd demonstrated his dangerousness. The man started to get up. He's lucky the officer had switched to the tazer, because he still represented a clear and present danger to an officer who could have seen any action as a possible further attack.

It was an appropriate response. And the officer even scaled down his reaction as the event progressed. I'd say he handled the situation as well as anyone could be expected to.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What's amazing is you don't understand what excessive force is. Had the officer shot prior to the vehicle hitting his car then maybe you would have an argument. The car strikes and THEN the officer fires. Just because a vehicle CAN be a deadly weapon doesn't mean that it is ALWAYS a deadly weapon.

The video clearly shows that the officers life was never in danger. But hey, any excuse to discharge a firearm right?

Ken Lammers said...

No, I get it. Excessive force is use of force disproportionate to the force used or threatened against the officer. The offender rammed the officer with a deadly weapon and then moved forward in a manner which would have allowed him to do so again.

Think it out, if someone punches you in the face and pulls his hand back can you hit him? Yes. He has put himself in the position of delivering a second blow. You are justified in hitting him.

Same thing, just a different level of force.