Man shot to death by Meridian police, family questions tactics


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Sage of Seattle
May 16, 2007, 02:14 PM
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/ID_POLICE_SHOOTING_IDOL-?SITE=IDBOI&SECTION=US&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2007-05-15-09-33-41

May 15, 9:33 AM EDT


Man shot to death by Meridian police, family questions tactics

MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) -- Police shot and killed a knife-wielding man whose his family said he had been acting erratically, and relatives say officers should have tried to coax him to surrender or used nonlethal means to subdue him.

Ricardo Benitez, 47, lunged at six officers seconds after they found him wielding a knife in a bedroom at the family home Sunday night, Police Chief William E. Musser said.

Benitez was shot three times in the chest by one of the officers and was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after midnight Monday, he said.

"Taking the life of a person is always a difficult thing for a police officer," Musser said in a brief news conference Monday.

He would not answer questions and did not comment on the family's criticism, saying the case remained under investigation by the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force, with Boise police taking the lead.

All six officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure in shootings by law enforcement personnel.

Police said they were summoned by relatives who said Benitez had threatened them with a knife and violated a protection order that barred him from contacting the family.

Terry Benitez, told the Idaho Statesman she called police after her estranged husband started speaking incoherently and acting oddly, at one point grabbing a bread knife but never threaten anyone in the family with it.

She said she only wanted her husband to be removed from the house so he could get medical treatment for advanced hepatitis C, which can cause abnormal behavior, and planned to file a lawsuit against police.

The officers assured her they would use nonlethal force and were not bringing live ammunition into the house, she said.

"I called for help from the people who should have been here to help me, and look what they did - they shot my husband," she said.

Police Lt. Bob Stowe acknowledged that Benitez was not threatening anyone when officers entered the house and would not say whether they tried to convince him to come out.

When asked about his wife's claim that the officers said they were not bringing live rounds into the house, Stowe said, "That's so far out there, I don't even know what to say."

Wow. I try very hard to be fair in my thinking and perceptions regarding police, so I think I'm going to side with the cops on this one. I mean, I've heard of cops saying really stupid things, but promising not to bring live ammunition into the house? On the other hand, it sounds like the police had at least some advanced warning of what the situation was, so with all of the tools available to help arrest and/or subdue this EDP (taser, baton, pepper spray), I find myself asking why the pistol was the answer? Flame me all you like for "Monday morning quarterbacking" and so on, I don't mind.

And why weren't the mental health crisis dudes not called to the scene? Isn't that their job?

Finally, however, I think that it makes it clear once again that (to paraphrase) "police are not eloquence, they are force." If it were me, what would I have done? I dunno. I guess if I felt safe even with my estranged spouse wielding a knife (as the wife states she did), I would think long and hard -- twice -- about calling the police.

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HUMONGO
May 16, 2007, 02:28 PM
knife+lunging at cops=clean shoot

ZeSpectre
May 16, 2007, 02:47 PM
knife+lunging at cops=clean shoot
+1

Leanwolf
May 16, 2007, 03:06 PM
"The officers assured her they would use nonlethal force and were not bringing live ammunition into the house, she said."

Nope, the woman is lying.

As for "Why didn't the police just bring in the mental health crisis managers?" to talk to the man... Meridian, Idaho is a small town. Much, much smaller than Seattle, Washington. They don't have "mental health crisis managers" sitting around waiting for a "mental health crisis" to go solve.

All "bread knives" I've seen are long and serrated. Not too hard to cut a man's neck open with one of those.

Rubber bullets, or shotgun "bean bag" shells?? At room distance you can easily kill a man with those.

With Domestic Disturbance calls, cops know just how easily one can go super nova. 99.95% of the time in a D.D., there are alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, mental problems, uncontrollable anger, and just outright adrenalin stoked, down and dirty hatred running rampant in the situation.

Cops hate Dometic Disturbance calls because they know just how extremely dangerous they can be.

I live next to Meridian. I'll wait for more clarification as to what happened and how it happened.

L.W.

marksman13
May 16, 2007, 03:16 PM
sounds like a clean shoot to me...I have never known cops to unload their weapons before entering a house on a domestic distubance call. Can't imagine that any officer would tell someone that they were coming in without bullets to deal with an individual wielding a knife of any kind. Sounds like someone trying to make a living off of the city of Meridian.

ArfinGreebly
May 16, 2007, 03:21 PM
Terry Benitez, told the Idaho Statesman she called police after her estranged husband started speaking incoherently and acting oddly, at one point grabbing a bread knife but never threaten anyone in the family with it.
Right.

Brandishing . . . but not threatening.

She said she only wanted her husband to be removed from the house so he could get medical treatment for advanced hepatitis C, which can cause abnormal behavior, and planned to file a lawsuit against police.
But she didn't call for an ambulance or medical team. Just the police.

She's lying.

Help! Help! My husband is in there with a knife acting crazy . . . but please don't hurt him!
:rolleyes:

Ala Dan
May 16, 2007, 03:25 PM
I didn't read the entire episode, but anyone wielding a sharp blade
at me in a hostile/threatening manner is asking too get shot~! ;) :D

TheFederalistWeasel
May 16, 2007, 03:27 PM
Stupidity will get you killed...

HUMONGO
May 16, 2007, 03:50 PM
I have never known cops to unload their weapons before entering a house on a domestic distubance call

Exactly. Domestic disturbance calls are the most likely to need to weapon. They usually involve alcohol and extreme tension. Plus, more than once, police have been assulted by the person who called them when they arrest the original subject.

Geronimo45
May 16, 2007, 03:52 PM
Tasers and pepper spray are used for unarmed folk, IIRC - equal or superior force is the name of the game, as far as I know. If this guy was unarmed, then you can go in and try to use less-than-lethal methods.

Deranged dudes with knives = crazy folks that are armed and dangerous.
Not a situation for tasers and mace - assuming these cops had them in the first place. You want a weapon equal to or superior to the weapon you're being confronted with, if you're to come out of the situation safely. If it's a guy's fists, you want tasers, batons, and pepper spray. If it's a shotgun, you want ARs and snipers. If it's an RPG, you want an airstrike.

Disparity of force. You want to intimidate the party you're after, hopefully scaring him into submission and avoiding any violence whatsoever.

220_Swift
May 16, 2007, 03:58 PM
Sounds like mother nature added some extra chlorine to the gene pool.

GhostlyKarliion
May 16, 2007, 04:06 PM
Hmm, not enough information for me to make a decision on this one, sure he was acting violent but officers around here still carry batons for a reason.

All in all, not enough information to make a ruling, glad the officers are ok.

pacodelahoya
May 16, 2007, 04:15 PM
If the news report is accurate, then the shooting was justified imo.

M92FS
May 16, 2007, 04:24 PM
the BG is armed and charging at the L.E.O. , I think the officer who fired his gun was worried about his safety and the safety of the other officers. I think he made a good decision to shoot the man down. I would have done the same thing if I was him.

a cop is also a human being , nobody would wanna get stabbed with a bread knife and ended up in a bodybag.

RPCVYemen
May 16, 2007, 04:25 PM
One time a woman at work was arguing that the police had sed excessive force in an arrest involving a defendant whom they had good reason to believe was armed. She was discussing all of the options the police could have take.

Then I asked her - "Suppose your son was on the entry team. What would you want him to?"

She had really been thinking - "What if my son was the defendant?"

When I asked her what she would want her son to do if he were an officer on the entry team, she was stumped. We talked for a little while - I don't think that she agree with me, but she was definitely thinking.

Here are my thoughts:


For our legal system to work, police officers occasional have to arrest dangerous armed people.

In that situation, the procedure must protect the police officers - or no one will become a police officer. Police already take enormous risks in our society. A sense of self-preservation is in fact a sign of mental health. If don't allow officers to protect themselves, then either no one will beocome and officer, or only folks without a sense of self-preservation will become police offocers.

That means that in some cases, people may get killed who would not be killed if we were willing to jeopardize the officers in invovled.


It is a sad thing when a person dies. But appears to me that #3 follows from #2, which follows from #1.

When I was working Mogadishu, one of the other contractors brought along her spouse, who had been an police officer for a number of years. I asked him why he quit, and he said, "One too many 'suicide by cop' incidents. There are some people that want to die, but are afraid to do it themselves. So they do a 'suicide by cop'. Usually in a trailer court, and I hate 'em. The last time I had to shoot someone, it was 'suicide by cop', and I decided that was my last one of those. I quit that night."

The man's family may not accept it, but lunging at an armed officer with a knife in your hand may very well be 'suicide my cop'. If someone is determined to kill themselves, it can be very hard to stop them - at the time of the suicide attempt. Maybe before, and if the attempt fails, maybe after. But at the time of the attempt, it's pretty difficult.

Mike

doubleg
May 16, 2007, 04:27 PM
And why weren't the mental health crisis dudes not called to the scene? Isn't that their job?

Their coming to take me away he he ha ha ho ho, to the funny farm. Where live if beautiful all the time... :uhoh:

Maybe they should have took his wife too.

MrDig
May 16, 2007, 04:41 PM
I really dislike these threads, they seem to opperate under the presumtion that all LEOs are suspect for their actions. I was not there and am in no place to judge. I do not put my life in harms way in service of others on a daily basis for a paycheck, nor do I have people tell me I am a A$$h*#e for doing so.
The bottom line for me is this, I am in no place to judge their actions, as I was not the one being charged by the guy with the knife.
This is a Tactical situation not an excersize, Kind of like Soldiers in combat having civilian casualties. Not a good thing to have, but sometimes in combat these things happen. I am certain that taking another life is a horrific thing psycologicly. If it isn't you are a sociopath. Give the LEOs the benefit of the doubt on this one.

bnelson2943
May 16, 2007, 04:55 PM
Where are all the law enforcement people out there? Every cop I know that's been through the academy within the last 10 years was drilled on the 21 feet rule. It has been proven numerous times in courts of law that an edged weapon is deadly if the assailant is within 21 feet of their victim, even if that victim is armed. We were shown training videos and did drills on the firing range to substantiate this rule. It was enough to convince me that if this happened to me with no practical means to increase that distance, I would use deadly force, which I did once. Regret the situation, but no second guessing. I'm no longer on the job but not because of this.

strat81
May 16, 2007, 04:59 PM
If the husband was in fact mentally ill from Hep C or another medical condition, it's unfortunate - but necessary - for the police to respond with lethal force in this situation.

mbt2001
May 16, 2007, 04:59 PM
Dude, you don't have the right to threaten people with knives and actions and come out of it alive... I think Jeff White said it best. Replace CCW with the word POLICE. See how you would feel if a CCW person shot someone going nutty with a knife and they charged him with a crime....

MrDig
May 16, 2007, 05:07 PM
Excelent point mbt2001.

Crunker1337
May 16, 2007, 05:34 PM
If your safety is threatened in that manner what are you supposed to do? The cops didn't really have a chance to employ non-lethal means.

Scanr
May 16, 2007, 06:01 PM
Sadly, the city will pay off the "estranged" wife only because they do not want to fight a long court trial.

Kali Endgame
May 16, 2007, 06:46 PM
Now the city and PD will pay out $1.4 million, just like San Jose, CA PD did. How long before this guy obtains his Sainthood?

ilbob
May 16, 2007, 07:09 PM
Hmm, not enough information for me to make a decision on this one, sure he was acting violent but officers around here still carry batons for a reason.

if we assume the information in the story was accurate, it does not seem like there is much question about the shooting being justifiable.

I am baffled by the claim the woman made that the police agreed to bring no live ammo into the house. Just does not seem like something police would ever agree to. If they did lie, so what? Cops lie on a regular basis. If you are stupid enough to believe them, that is your problem.

For the poster who thinks a baton is a good defense against a big sharp knife, I urge you to allow some deranged individual to attack you with a foot long knife while you get an 18" stick to fend him off with.

Sage of Seattle
May 16, 2007, 07:49 PM
Give the LEOs the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Actually, personally I am. I was just asking some questions that the incident raised in my mind.

shadowalker
May 16, 2007, 07:58 PM
I live in Meridian, the incident happened a few miles from my house. It seems pretty doubtful to me that officers would intentionally go into a domestic situation unarmed.

Several people have been shot and killed for attacking police with knives in the area lately, one went from contact with the police to the BG dead in less than 30 seconds.

I fully support the right of our police force to use lethal force when confronted with lethal force. A knife is deadly, there are some things you do not do, and one of them is attack the police with a weapon.

I don't know the whole story yet and I'm glad it will be investigated but all of the area shoots in the 7 years I've lived here have been justified.

I doubt there there will be a settlement, we have had far more controversial shootings over the past few years.

Pilgrim
May 16, 2007, 08:21 PM
Hmm, not enough information for me to make a decision on this one, sure he was acting violent but officers around here still carry batons for a reason.
Really kind of difficult to use a baton effectively in a bedroom.

Pilgrim

IdahoFarmer
May 16, 2007, 08:58 PM
It is sad that this happened but I say tough. You pull garbage like that in Idaho you get what's coming to you. If you want touchy feely "help the criminals" then off to California with you! I myself am a former Californian and the last thing we need here is California type crime.

Farmer

Mumwaldee
May 16, 2007, 09:34 PM
bah misread my bad*

Baba Louie
May 16, 2007, 10:11 PM
Suicide by Cop.

Hope the LEO's are holding up OK in the aftermath. I'm sure those types of incidents really make you think things over for a while... and then (hopefully) get right back to work.

It isn't the first time, it won't be the last time.

Crazy Uncle Al Gore
May 16, 2007, 11:30 PM
Isn't it kind of weird how the wife is refering to her ex-husband as her husband all of the sudden. Kind of sounds like she wants to get sympathy

.cheese.
May 16, 2007, 11:57 PM
eek.... I don't even know what to think.

On one hand, I have had a medical reaction (allergic reaction) to a medication which caused strange behavior according to those who saw me. So if the police had gotten involved, it would suck to think they could have killed me when I wasn't myself and was having an allergic reaction to a new medication (a medication which isn't even meant to affect your brain - I just had a bizarre reaction and can never take it again). Situations like that really deserve special attention and careful tactics. I didn't become violent, just very confused and frightened apparently.

On the other hand, lunging at the cops with a knife.... from the standpoint of the cops, is a bad situation. Less-lethal force could result in an officer getting stabbed....

I'd say probably the best alternative would have been to have the lady cuff the guy beforehand so that when the cops come in to transport him to a medical facility to get his treatment and end the behavior problem from the symptoms - they wouldn't have to worry about the issue of force.

Or have somebody somehow sedate him.

Mulie
May 17, 2007, 02:10 AM
I'd say probably the best alternative would have been to have the lady cuff the guy beforehand so that when the cops come in to transport him to a medical facility to get his treatment and end the behavior problem from the symptoms - they wouldn't have to worry about the issue of force.
If these people were willing to deal with this situation in the first place, they would not have called the police.

Or have somebody somehow sedate him.
Someone did have to sedate him. Unfortunely, these type of incidents most often do not allow the luxury of time to pursue all of the wonderful well thought out remedies that some people can think of after the fact.

I guess my years in law enforcement is probably showing.

pacodelahoya
May 17, 2007, 09:06 AM
I'll bet he's pretty sedate right now.

If that sounds callous, oh well, not every situation turns out smelling like roses and imo every life does not have the same worth. As in muggers and victims etc. By attacking the police, he devalued his life.

Edmond
May 17, 2007, 09:30 AM
On the other hand, it sounds like the police had at least some advanced warning of what the situation was, so with all of the tools available to help arrest and/or subdue this EDP (taser, baton, pepper spray), I find myself asking why the pistol was the answer?

Pepper spray doesn't work all the time. I've seen it drop people fast and I've also seen people have a delayed reaction to it. I've seen a guy get hit with a stream of "Whoop Ass" and it had almost no affect on him. I've seen the same with Fox Labs, the guy had about a 15 minute delayed reaction.

You have to remember that pain receptors in everyone don't work the same. Taking a baton to him could have probably disabled him but at much greater risk to the officer. A baton or taser might not get fast enough results to avoid officer injury. He might not react to the pain that a baton or taser would bring.

Len S
May 17, 2007, 09:47 AM
The guy had Hep C and a knife. A wrestling match with this guy can end in a death sentence for the police officer. You do not want any contact with his blood . Yes shooting him lets the blood out but then again you do not have to wrestle with him later. I am not saying he should have been shot for having Hep C but that the disease along with a knife really limits options. You really do not want to ger bit by people like this either. I do not believe it has been proven one way ot the other about transfer of Hep with bites but who wants tobe the first?


Len

stevelyn
May 17, 2007, 02:28 PM
21 foot rule

We've gone as far as rigging a target stand on a plastic kiddie sled and have people take turns pulling toward the shooter at a sprint. The shooter usually can get off maybe one shot from the holster before the sled gets into slashing range of the shooter requiring the shooter to step off the axis of the attack.

Now, the same situation within a confined space and you really have to stay ahead of unfolding developements to avoid injury.

Babbling nutball in violation of a DVRO with a knife lunging at officer = invitation to in-coming gunfire. I suspect that this guy aquired his Hep-C as a result of IV drug use and probably had run-ins with the police before.
Good Shoot. Good Riddance.

The good news is he won't have to worry about the Hep-C anymore. :D

atomd
May 17, 2007, 03:13 PM
The shooter usually can get off maybe one shot from the holster before the sled gets into slashing range of the shooter requiring the shooter to step off the axis of the attack.

That makes sense but the key part of that is "from the holster". With a handgun drawn and aimed, you can put a heck of a lot more than one bullet in someone from 21 ft away. The reason why I mention that is because when police enter a home where they know there is a knife wielding mentally unstable person, they either already have drawn or they should have drawn at that point (with good reason of course).

I don't think any of us can say it was a good or bad shoot from the info in that article. There's way too much missing information. In fact, that applies to every case that gets posted on here. It's silly for us to even try without actually being there or seeing very detailed video evidence. For police there is a very thin line between a good shoot and a bad shoot, hence all the lawsuits. I also think that comparing a CCW holder and the police is ridiculous. We might react to a situation in a similar way because we're both human (instincts) but that's about where the similarity ends.

Sage of Seattle
May 17, 2007, 06:12 PM
Thursday, May 17, 2007

Family questions police tactics in deadly shooting

Expert: Meridian police used wrong tactics in incident that left one man dead
Authorities aren't saying much, but one expert says Meridian Police used the wrong tactics Sunday night in an incident that left one man dead. The family says it will sue.
By Heath Druzin - hdruzin@idahostatesman.com
Edition Date: 05/17/07

Three days after a Meridian Police officer fatally shot a mentally unstable man, questions remain.

Why did police enter the Meridian house where Ricardo Benitez was holed up alone?

Did they make any attempt to coax him out?

Why did Officer Brian Lueddeke use his service revolver instead of a nonlethal weapon such as a Taser or beanbag round?

Meridian Police have declined to answer these questions and many others about the incident. Police did provide some basic information, including the name of the officer who fired the fatal shots after Benitez lunged at him with a knife.

Based on the information released by police, a national expert on police use of deadly force has questions about the officers' tactics.

"The first approach is to get a hostage-type negotiator or suicide prevention person and try to talk him out," said Geoffrey Alpert, a deadly force expert who helps police departments around the country write their use of force policies. "There's no reason to do anything else if he's only a threat to himself."

Among the undisputed facts is that Benitez was alone in the house and armed with a knife, but he was not threatening others when police entered the house.

Alpert said it's not worth risking officers' lives by sending them into that situation.

"Clearly, you want to talk him out, you don't want to rush him," he said.

Benitez's estranged wife, Terry Benitez, said police made no attempt to contact her husband before going into the house.

She has also said that officers told her they were not bringing live ammunition into the house but instead would use nonlethal weapons, such as Tasers, to subdue Ricardo Benitez, 47, who died on the scene from three gunshot wounds to the chest.

Meridian Police would not comment on what officers said to Benitez's family. They have said that Ricardo Benitez had threatened his family with a knife earlier that night. The family denies they were threatened.

Terry Benitez said her husband suffered from hepatitis C, which caused brain swelling and erratic behavior.

She called police late Sunday because Ricardo Benitez was acting bizarrely, speaking incoherently and had grabbed a bread knife. Benitez said she wanted help getting her husband medical attention.

"It's pretty darn sad that ... you're afraid if you call on the cops you're going to get shot," said Terry Benitez, who said she will sue the police department.

Meridian Police Lt. Bob Stowe declined to answer a series of questions, including whether any of the officers on scene were carrying nonlethal weapons or whether they recovered the knife Benitez was allegedly carrying.

"We're going to let the investigation continue," he said.

Mayor Tammy DeWeerd did not return a request for an interview, and Meridian Police Chief Bill Musser did not return repeated requests for comment Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Questions left with city attorney Bill Nary for Musser were not answered.

At the beginning of a news conference Monday, Musser announced he would not answer questions. Reading from a statement, Musser referred to Benitez as having a "history of violence" but did not provide any details.

A search of Ada County criminal records turned up only one apparent violent incident, a 2001 conviction for misdemeanor resisting and obstructing. At the news conference, Musser also said Lueddeke, whom the department named on Wednesday, acted properly.

Lueddeke, who has been a Meridian Police officer for three years, remains on paid administrative leave, which is the department's policy. Five other officers who entered the house were also initially placed on paid leave but are now back on the job.

The Boise Police Department is leading the multi-agency Ada County Critical Incident Task Force in an investigation of the shooting.

wjustinen
May 17, 2007, 06:34 PM
One reason police hate domestic disputes is that they often wind up with both parties joining forces against them. The wife's response appears to be a manifestation of this dynamic.

ilbob
May 17, 2007, 06:47 PM
I fully support the right of our police force to use lethal force when confronted with lethal force.

But do you support the right of self defense for us mere commoners? If so, why did you phrase it the way you chose to phrase it?

MrPeter
May 17, 2007, 07:41 PM
Sounds like mother nature added some extra chlorine to the gene pool.
If by chlorine you mean HepC?
Its possible that this guy wasn't a moron, and that he was genuinely ill. If that is the case (which I'm not saying it is for sure) then this is certainly a tragic case.

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