Sad, and kind of old story


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Sniper X
April 16, 2008, 12:27 PM
I lived in Albuquerque a few years ago. I was living in a fairly large house 2975sqft for only one guy and a buddy who was a roommate after my divorce. I use to shoot my bow in my side yard a few hours a day and when cops would drive by they would usually stop, watch, and be amazed at the tight groups, give me a thumbs up and drive off.

One day a kid walks up and watches for a few minutes and starts asking questions. He was obviously how should I say this, mentally not all there. But he was pleasant, very well mannered, and pretty articulate for a kid who was chronologically about 19 but mentally about 9~10. Nice kid.

He would come around in the summer and watch me shoot for an hour or so and go back to where he was living with his grandparents because his parents were both crank (Meth) heads.

One day he showed up with his new very coveted prize, a new pump action single shot pellet gun his GP's had bought him. This was in an area where there was a big field that had a bunch of prairie dogs in it ripe for the pickens.

He had gotten a job as a dish washer at the Denny's type restaurant at the corner by my house, which was only about 30 yards away from my front door.

He would walk to work and stop at the Prairie dog town and shoot at them ( missing he wasn't a good shot) and go on to work where he would stash the pellet gun in the bushes, go work, get the gun back out and walk home.

One night a customer saw him getting the pellet gun out of the bush, and called 911 from the restaurant, probably a total anti, she was interviewed after the fact and said she thought it looked like a "Canon".

He got about to my front walkway and the cops swooped in like they were about to collar Charles Manson, there were about 12 of them. They of course used the regular protocol to get him to drop the weapon, but of course he didn't understand them. Remember he was only about 9 years old mentally and probably scared crapless....

well you probably know where this is going, they shot and killed him and had I been there I would have not only been able to tell them he was mentally challenged, but been able to tell them it was a FRIGGIN PELLET GUN!

My whole reason for posting this is two fold, why weren't the cops trained well enough in weapons recognition to see this was obviously a pellet gun, and why didn't someone form the Shoney's come out and tell them it was a pellet gun or that he was mentally challenged, I hear they were all at the window watching this unfold. AND the cops listened to one scared rabbit who said this little toy of a pellet gun Looked like a Canon!


It bugged me then and bugs me now that the police got away with this screw up and makes me know they are still to this day under trained in some factors of a very important area they should know about.

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Conqueror
April 16, 2008, 12:35 PM
I'm sorry for the outcome of the story, but I have seen many pellet guns that look identical to real-steel, and would be particularly difficult to distinguish in a high-stress or poorly-lighted environment.

Tommygunn
April 16, 2008, 12:58 PM
It bugged me then and bugs me now that the police got away with this screw up and makes me know they are still to this day under trained in some factors of a very important area they should know about.

It would bother me a lot if this happened around here, to someone I knew. Conquerer has a good point about there being very realistic looking pellet guns around. Some Airsoft guns are near exact copies of the real deal and if you painted over or removed the orange muzzle ends, there'd be no way to assure they weren't real guns without close examination.
That's a little difficult after the fact.
The police may need better training in a lot of municipalities. But I don't think that is a cure-all.
What happened was tragic, but I can't condemn the police officers involved. One has to ask what they reasonably believed was true under the circumstances. Did they know the guy was mentally challenged? Did they have any reason to believe the gun was only a pellet gun? What level of danger would they reasonably believe they were in if the gun was real?
I wasn't there, and can't really answer those questions. Training might not have helped.
A tragedy indeed ... I'm sure those officers will remember that incident for the rest of their lives.

highorder
April 16, 2008, 12:59 PM
that is a sad story, but stashing a weapon of any sort in an unsecure public place is bound to lead to situations like this.

serrano
April 16, 2008, 01:17 PM
that is a sad story, but stashing a weapon of any sort in an unsecure public place is bound to lead to situations like this.

Walk with an air rifle, expect to be shot. Got it.

Pat-inCO
April 16, 2008, 01:51 PM
My whole reason for posting this is two fold, why weren't the cops trained well enough in weapons recognition to see this was obviously a pellet gun, and why didn't someone form the Shoney's come out and tell them it was a pellet gun or that he was mentally challenged, I hear they were all at the window watching this unfold. AND the cops listened to one scared rabbit who said this little toy of a pellet gun Looked like a Canon!
Because the cops have a RIGHT to go home safely at the end of shift!

It is NOT up to the cops to raise someone else's kids! It is NOT up to the cops to think for the parents or grand parents. :fire:

They of course used the regular protocol to get him to drop the weapon, but of course he didn't understand them. Remember he was only about 9 years old mentally and probably scared crapless....
So now it is up to the cops to sacrifice themselves, just in case the "man with a gun" is not a problem?! :banghead: Just in case the "man with a gun" is that 1 in a million that is a harmless retard? :eek:

WAKE UP! The police have a second or as much as three seconds to make a decision that could easily make their wife a widow if they are wrong.

What would you have done, in that position, if you didn't know that 19 year old? You did not know that he was retarded. You did not know that it was a "FRIGGIN PELLET GUN!" All you could see was a 19 year old that did not respond to commands and had a GUN! Remember 18 year old "kids" are going to war in Iraq!

If you want to whine or scream about this, go to the parents or grand parents.THEY are the ones that deserve it!!

Werewolf
April 16, 2008, 02:00 PM
Because the cops have a RIGHT to go home safely at the end of shift! NO - THEY - DON'T!

They have no more right to go home safe than a soldier in Iraq does.

They chose to be police. They chose to accept the danger.

That doesn't mean they have to act foolishly BUT it seems these days that no amount of risk or danger is acceptable to the police and thus we the people have to suffer so this elite class of citizen, more deserving of safety than us, can go home safe at night.

Because the cops have a RIGHT to go home safely at the end of shift! That attitude makes me sick to my stomach. I am oh so glad that the guys I served with in the army didn't have that attitude. The ultimate consequence of which will be the total abrogation of citizen rights in the name of police safety.

Tommygunn
April 16, 2008, 02:16 PM
Because the cops have a RIGHT to go home safely at the end of shift!

NO - THEY - DON'T!

They have no more right to go home safe than a soldier in Iraq does.

They chose to be police. They chose to accept the danger.

Neither soldiers or police may have the "right" to go home, but you can bet your ***** that they will do everything rightfully in their power to assure that they do.
Again, what do the police reasonably believe to be true in the circumstances they found?
You know, I wish we all could control, 100%, all the circumstances and permutations and possibilities of every event we encounter. That can't be. It is beyond the human ability to do that, and these police were only human.

Maybe one of the officers feels so bad that the next time he encounters an "UNSUB" with a similar weapon, he'll hesitate.
And maybe then it will be a real gun.
And the officer will never go home again.

Tell me that can't happen.
It isn't a matter of who has what "right." It is a matter of what is practically possible to do in a human world where murphy's law is unrepealable, and people die, and there is no "director" to yell "cut" at the end of the scene and all the "dead" people get up and wash off the phony blood.

jr45
April 16, 2008, 02:19 PM
Sniper X,
Sad story with a tragic ending. I lived in Albuquerque for 3yrs (early 90s on the edge of the city) and remember that it was an open carry state. I even remember a neighbor would have a loaded shotgun on his truck's rifle rack (was legal).

Not enough information is provided to indicate what transpired prior to the shooting (i.e. was he holding the rifle, pointing, etc)...really tough call for the police. Did this happen with the Bernalillo County Sheriffs or the Albuquerque PD?

One more thing: In NM, it is lawful to carry unloaded firearm (I assume long guns are included) except on school premises, grounds, school bus, or any public building or grounds where school-related and sanctioned activities are performed...please correct me if I am wrong.

Technosavant
April 16, 2008, 02:27 PM
I'm sorry that happened, but I do not fault the police. Most pellet guns look nearly identical to real firearms; my Crossman air rifle would be indistinguishable from a real hunting rifle from more than about 10 feet away, especially if the lighting is not excellent.

He never should have been carrying that thing to and from work without some kind of case. Even as annoying as unstable antis can be, I can't expect even a hardened gun nut to think "oh, that MUST be a pellet gun, and that's OK." It is tragic, but if there is any fault to be assessed, it lies with those who did not prevent him from carrying that thing openly (especially considering he was mentally disadvantaged).

kingpin008
April 16, 2008, 03:14 PM
Walk with an air rifle, expect to be shot. Got it.

No. Walk home with an air rifle, and when the cops show up refuse to follow orders or handle that air rifle in such a way that they find threatening, expect to be shot.

By all accounts, the cops didn't shoot the kid because he was just walking home with it. They obviously confronted him, and at some point felt as if he was a threat. What his actions were that may have caused this, we don't know because the OP's reporting of the incident leaves much to be desired in terms of facts.

Sniper X
April 16, 2008, 04:11 PM
Pat, two things, fisrt no duh, secondarily, you missed the poiint about this being not only obviously an AIR RIFLE, to anyone older than say about 10, but the fact that if you weren't able to tell this kid was "not all there in the first thirty seconds of a conversation" you aren't qualified to be a cop.

XDKingslayer
April 16, 2008, 04:28 PM
Because the cops have a RIGHT to go home safely at the end of shift!

I'm sorry, but I'm so tired of hearing this it isn't funny.

For those that don't seem to get it: being a cop is dangerous, you might die.

That being said, if you feel you should be guaranteed the ability to go home safely each night, being a cop isn't for you.

Neither soldiers or police may have the "right" to go home, but you can bet your ***** that they will do everything rightfully in their power to assure that they do.

That's the difference between soldiers and cops. Soldiers rarely kill mentally challenged teenagers holding pellet guns just to go home safely.

woodybrighton
April 16, 2008, 04:32 PM
cops in the uk have seen real guns disguised to look like toy guns
toys and replica guns made to look real
and once an idiot using what he thought was a replica was a real gun cocked and locked:(
when the nice policemen tell you to freeze do as they say or expect incoming:(

had this happen to me once at a hostel resident comes in with one of those dumb lighters that look like pistols ands showing off. my words were don't show that off in public or the cops might shoot you.
unbeknownst to me another resident who was paranoid had gone phoned the cops and they arrive tooled up.
after a short time lying on the floor with multiple mp5s aimed at me was peacefully resolved

Sniper X
April 16, 2008, 04:46 PM
BTW, it was this one

jr45
April 16, 2008, 04:48 PM
The difference is that in NM (and the rest of the USA); you can legally posses a firearm. The OP is questioning weather the police should have fired on a handicap teen with an air rifle (I believe you can legally carry an unloaded long gun there? Not sure.:confused:). This story hits home for me...I have a 12yr old autistic son and I lived in Albuquerque for 3yrs (early 90s). My brother was with the Albuquerque PD for 8yrs (internal affairs) and I heard from him and personally experienced heavy handedness from the police there. However, since there is not much information discussing what happened just prior to the shooting, I would have to give the police the benefit of the doubt and assume that they thought the rifle was real and the teen performed some threatening acts.

Technosavant
April 16, 2008, 04:55 PM
if you weren't able to tell this kid was "not all there in the first thirty seconds of a conversation" you aren't qualified to be a cop.

Mentally deficient people can kill you just as dead as geniuses. Guns are quite user friendly.

At night, even that air rifle (which in daylight I would see it as a rather popular model of air rifle) looks like an actual lethal weapon.

I fully agree that being a police officer is a dangerous line of work, and I have gone on record here before stating that if a police officer is not willing to put his or her life on the line to protect the rights of others, then that person needs to find a new career.

However, in the dark, with a person holding what appears to be a lethal weapon, and that person refuses to drop it (due to being contrary or being slow witted), that officer is justified in the use of lethal force.

It is a tragedy, and if I were the officer I am sure I would be haunted by it, but you are expecting EVERYBODY in this incident to have perfect complete knowledge of everything involved. Everybody, that is, except the youngster. That isn't reasonable. If you expect people unfamiliar with firearms to know that the guy is mentally deficient and that the firearm is fake, as well as expecting the same from the police officers faced by what appears to be an armed suspect, you are being unrealistic.

There have been times when the police have gone off half-cocked and acted with extremely unnecessary force based on highly dubious information. This does not appear to rise to that standard. I am sorry for everyone involved, but in this day and age, walking around with even a fake gun openly displayed and in hand is not a wise thing to do in the vast majority of places.

HK G3
April 16, 2008, 05:08 PM
I have a friend whose best friend was killed by the cops when he was about 15 years old.

His friend was mentally ill, and off his meds (I'm pretty sure there are tons of wrongful death by cop stories that start this way...), and was acting so erratically that the parents felt obliged to call the police to help gain control of the situation again.

When the cops arrived, he was brandishing a butter knife and babbling incoherently. Obviously, the four 300+lb police officers that arrived on the scene that night felt that the scrawny 130 lb teenager was a deadly threat to their lives with that butter knife of his, so one of them opened fire, and discharged the entire magazine of his service weapon into that kid's chest. All of his fellow officers went on to testify on his behalf and that he behaved appropriately.

One would think that LEOs would be required to take training to teach them how to handle mentally ill individuals, but apparently they don't. That is the major thing that I just don't understand.

USMC 1975
April 16, 2008, 05:25 PM
I pity the poor CCW permit holder whoever blows away a mentally challenged teen who is holding an air rifle.

We shall see how forgiving and understanding the cops and courts are with the CCW holder at that time.

Chris

cassandrasdaddy
April 16, 2008, 05:29 PM
hkg3

what town did this happen to your friend of a friend. story like that oughta leave some kinda verifiable trail

realmswalker
April 16, 2008, 05:42 PM
As tragic as it is, I can't see any fault in the police departments actions. There are some factors that we don't know like, how dark it was, or what the BB gun looked like exactly. How far away were the officers from the kid?. Did the kid in his confusion point the gun at the officers?


And to those who say that you should be able to recognize wether it's a bb gun or not, I find that to be complete garbage. From ten feet away a bb gun and a rifle can look pretty much identical. The old pump action bb guns looked almost exactly like a lever gun.

If it was dark it would be impossible to distinguish. Even it wasnt dark, I guarantee they were more than ten feet away, and from any kind of decent distance, are you going to take a chance with your life on wether it "might" be a bb gun.

Let's say for example they thought it might be a BB gun. I don't know much about bb guns, but I do know that some of them can shoot fast enough that if it hit you in the eye, theres a good chance it could kill you.

About the mentally ill part, a gun in the hand of a person wether mentally ill or not, can still end your life. I would treat that situation as a threat to my life wether the person was mentally off, or the most sane person in the world.

evilelvis
April 16, 2008, 05:48 PM
I'm about as "get the government and police" out of my way as much as possible but I really can't fault them for this. Can everyone of you quickly identify a movie gun - make model, etc every single time from a distance? Imagine doing that in real life where the consequences if you are wrong is you are shot.

That being said...this was some guy out in the open. While I despite idiotic mistakes the police can make which do result in no prosecution yet should (no knock raids, wrong addresses) for things that can be easily planned, it's hard to find fault in a situation like this with the officers.

kingpin008
April 16, 2008, 05:52 PM
Realmswalker, and others are correct. I don't blame the cops. At night, at typical contact distances, an air rifle can easily look like a real rifle - and even if it did obviously look like a pellet gun - they can kill too. Just because it's a "toy' doesn't mean it's any less dangerous should a projectile hit you.

And even if he was retarded, that doesn't make him a teddy bear. I've volunteered at nursing homes in the past, and my sister is a nurse - we both know how unpredictable some individuals with mental retardation or other mental illness issues can be. One of the classic symptoms of mental retardation (downs syndrome, etc) is unpredictable mood swings. That young man could have gone from sweet & cuddly to super pissed and umanageable in seconds. That's a fact. Have you ever heard the expression "retard strength"? It's usually used in a more-or-less inappropriate way, but it's called that for a reason. An individual in an altered state of mind (whether it's due to drugs, mental illness, or dimished mental capacity) can be ridiculously strong. Those cops did what they could. It's a damn shame that the boy had to get shot, but a threat is a threat, and if he wasn't complying with orders, and brandishing a weapon ("real" or not) they are required to react as necessary to stop that threat and get control of the situation.

esmith
April 16, 2008, 06:05 PM
Sad story but the truth probably is that the police had probable cause to shoot the kid. I have a classic army m15 armalite rifle that without the orange band on the muzzle, would look damn near identical to the real thing. I don't know about you guys, but if someone who i don't know with what looks like a real gun refuses my orders to abandon that gun, im not wasting much time to shoot him. The police were correct in their actions, but im sure they are having trouble living with what they did.

velobard
April 16, 2008, 06:29 PM
I have a classic army m15 armalite rifle that without the orange band on the muzzle, would look damn near identical to the real thing.
On top of that, cops have come across real guns that "bad guys" have painted with orange tips, etc, to make them look fake.

This is a tragic story, but without knowing more details I can't condemn the cops. For starters, if he was that mentally challenged it sounds like he should have been supervised while using even a pellet gun. I have some perspective here, my little sister was mentally challenged and I knew lots of her friends that had varying degrees of problems.

Tommygunn
April 16, 2008, 06:56 PM
cops in the uk have seen real guns disguised to look like toy guns
toys and replica guns made to look real

Yeah ...here too. In fact, in one major municipality, laws were passed that squirt guns and other toy or replica guns had to be painted or colored a bright color. So criminals gangs promply responded by painting their real guns similar colors.
Now, gun makers which make guns or stocks in "tacticool" colors are being haranged by lawmakers because it is now somehow "evil" to make real guns that "look" like toy guns.


Go figure.:banghead:

mekender
April 16, 2008, 07:08 PM
hmmm so someone actually let a person with the mentalitity of a 9 year old walk around at NIGHT with a deadly weapon??? doesnt sound like the cops fault...

yes a pellet gun can be a deadly weapon...

no a person with that mental state should not have a weapon unsupervised... there are laws against it if the persons physical age were actually 9... so why would the fact that people knew his mental condition make it ok?

and apparently someone didnt teach this "child" proper safety or he wouldnt have pointed it at an officer and gotten shot...

sorry, but there are a lot of failings in this story and NONE of them are by the police...

akodo
April 16, 2008, 08:10 PM
It is a very unfortunate situation.

However, anyone without the mental capacity to drop any object when the police demand it should never be given any gun shaped object.

If someone is given a gun shaped object, what to do if the police come needs to be spelled out, ESPECIALLY for the mentally challenged, even if is a squirt gun.

I don't know what the right word is, so I will use one with some negative connotations, sorry. Many mentally deficeint people can be "trained" with repeated exposure. I assume anyone capable of being employed can be told again and again until they can do it every time that if a cop comes "Drop the whatever you have in your hands (it is okay if it breaks) and put your hand straight up and do not move, be a statue reaching for the sky"

Of course, hind sight is 20-20. Small precaution such as gramps notifiying the police ahead of time that the dim grandson who is 19 may sometimes have a toy gun outside, and be in X vicinity would have helped to.

Technosavant
April 16, 2008, 09:50 PM
I have a friend whose best friend was killed by the cops when he was about 15 years old.

His friend was mentally ill, and off his meds (I'm pretty sure there are tons of wrongful death by cop stories that start this way...), and was acting so erratically that the parents felt obliged to call the police to help gain control of the situation again.

When the cops arrived, he was brandishing a butter knife and babbling incoherently. Obviously, the four 300+lb police officers that arrived on the scene that night felt that the scrawny 130 lb teenager was a deadly threat to their lives with that butter knife of his, so one of them opened fire, and discharged the entire magazine of his service weapon into that kid's chest. All of his fellow officers went on to testify on his behalf and that he behaved appropriately.

One would think that LEOs would be required to take training to teach them how to handle mentally ill individuals, but apparently they don't. That is the major thing that I just don't understand.

I'm sorry to hear that, and my condolences to the family. Today, I would expect that kind of situation to involve the Taser over the firearm. However, just because somebody's problems begin with mental illness does not place the onus on everybody else to embrace whatever harm that person might dish out when having a psychotic episode. If we are going to expect police to undergo training to deal with mentally ill folks, we certainly have a right to expect those who are mentally ill to STAY ON THEIR MEDS. I am sure it is difficult to control a 15 year old in the best of conditions, but those with mental issues must understand that if they will not take responsibility for their condition (it isn't fair that they have it, but life is that way) and be responsible to take their medication as prescribed, then they may go off the deep end, and when they do, it is quite possible they will do so in a dangerous manner and those around them may use lethal force. You can still hurt somebody with a butter knife.

If a person has a mental issue, that person also has the responsibility to care for themselves. If they cannot do so, then those around them must care for them, and it is not realistic nor is it reasonable to expect everybody who comes within 50 yards of them to understand everything about their condition and how to handle them at their worst. If they cannot understand that, then tragedy is indeed a possible outcome.

Officers'Wife
April 16, 2008, 10:17 PM
OK,

My opinion of police abuses is well known. but in this case - with the information given- I can't say that I fault them. He had a weapon, type unknown. He was ordered to drop it, he did not. The officers in question had no way of knowing his mental state or his intentions. They were in a position where the reasonable man would perceive a threat. They ended the threat. Now they are going to have to live with it the rest of their lives. A pity all the way around.

Selena

aaronrkelly
April 17, 2008, 07:00 AM
My 5 year old will take directions from people of authority.....exactly what was this kids excuse?

He doesnt have one.

Bad deal all around but its not up to the police to take a few incoming rounds before deciding if thats a real gun. Its not up to the police to take a few rounds from a mentally challenged subject merely because hes not right.

Theres very little difference between a real gun and a pellet gun, especially at distance. Theres very little difference between a 19 year old with a mental deficit that acts 10 years old and a regular, can kill you dead as hell 19 year old, especially at a distance.

woodybrighton
April 17, 2008, 08:03 AM
that air gun looks closer enough to a real thing to get you shot:(

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