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Mom calls 911 to help suicidal son, police decide to help son by killing him

Discussion in 'Legal' started by foob, Sep 18, 2006.

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  1. foob

    foob Member

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    Guess their crisis intervention techniques differ a little from what I learned. We need to give medals to them, they protected the family from a knife wielding attacker.

    Of course they ignored gun safety, fired and nearly killed someone behind the target.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1158548128320770.xml&coll=7

     
  2. Manedwolf

    Manedwolf member

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    And of course, the [strike]amateur commandos[/strike] cops will get a review and get off completely free, and be put back on duty. :fire:
     
  3. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    I'm sue the cop(s) who fired the shots now wish she hadn't called either. But that's not what happened.
     
  4. griz

    griz Member

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    A bad situation all around, but I'm not ready to bad mouth the cops on this one. Yes Mom was on the phone telling them that he was suicidal, but I'll bet the cops were dispatched with the description "man with a knife". Still a shame that the lady had to watch her son get gunned down.:(
     
  5. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    I'm not exactly sure why the cops are being taken to task here. They answered a call for help, saw someone with a knife, tried to stop the armed and apparently deranged individual with less than lethal force, and only escalated when said individual turned back towards an occupied residence.

    Yes, it sucks all around. But this story concerns more what to do when someone is nuts with a knife than berating the cops for doing their best in a completely crappy situation.
     
  6. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    Was that a terribly ironic and unintended pun, or are you psyhic, Henry? I too foresee a (likely meritless) lawsuit over excessive force in the future.
     
  7. S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

    S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Member

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    When you engage in dangerous and irrational behaviour, you run the risk of being hurt. Maybe "mom" should have gotten him help long before it got to this point, hmmm?
     
  8. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    Yeah, that's not a Freudian slip, that's a Plaintiff's slip.:D
     
  9. foob

    foob Member

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    The problem is, the dispatcher actually tells the police the situation, no cop is suppose to run in without knowing the background. Dispatcher doesn't say "man wielding knife at <address>", they actually say "mom called, son outside home wielding knife threatening to kill himself"

    So basically cops, knowing that the guy is suicidal, instead of talking him down and de-escalating the situation, start shooting him with bean bags (instead of a taser mind you).

    Is that standard procedure? Suppose a man is on a ledge of a building ready to jump, so the cops are suppose to start shooting him with bean bags? Does bean bags prevent person from jumping? No. Does bean bags prevent a person from slicing his own throat? No. Do tasers? Yes.

    And firing with innocent people beyond the target?

    If you were getting hit by bean bags, the reflex action is to turn away and retreat, which is what the boy did, and he got shot because of it.

    Bad choices the cops made
    1. Start shooting bean bags instead of talking him down. Crisis intervention isn't "Put down the knife or we will shoot you".
    2. Not using taser instead of bean bags.
    3. False assumption that the suicidal boy is turning around to attack people in the house.
    4. Shooting at boy and ignoring gun safety and what is behind him.

    Only 2 of the cops fired, which means some cops felt it was not necessary to shoot at the moment. Were the shooters criminally negligent? Nobody will ever know because no video was taken. Will they be punished, hell no.
     
  10. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    A tragic event, sure to produce years of billable hours.

    The moral of this story is "Are you more afraid of a teenager holding a knife to his own throat or of the legal troubles you will get by shooting him instead of tazing him."
     
  11. B.D. Turner

    B.D. Turner Member

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    It's easy to play monday morning quarterback. Being there and making a decision in a few seconds that last a lifetime is different. We only have one side of the story as tragic as it is. I had a suicidal person shoot himself within arms reach of me while I tried to talk him down. I have also had another suicidal man point a 30/30 at me before turning it on himself. Both of these men were armed when the 911 call was made and both had made threats before I arrived. Sometimes talking someone down is not an option. Sometimes the chain of events make negotiations impossible. I would not be so quick to judge the LEO's that responded to this incident.
     
  12. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    Gee, I wonder what the reaction would be if the cops had allowed him to get into the house and he stabbed someone to death?

    Sometimes you're darned if you do and darned if you don't.
     
  13. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

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    poor kid, not the cops fault though.

    Thanks to God, I no longer drink, but I have been as drunk as that poor kid.
    I was lucky I lived in NYC at the time.
    I threatened people and they kicked my rearend, never calling the police.

    What that kid needed was a couple of friends to hold him down
    untill he passed out and a tounge lashing by parental units and then
    AA meetings.

    The cops will have to deal with shooting the kid internally but they
    shouldn't face any legal consequences.
     
  14. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    After reading the story, I have to say I'm having trouble finding much sympathy for the kid. He was a drunken idiot and drunken idoitic behavior is a frequent cause of sudden death.
     
  15. orangelo

    orangelo member

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    Don't call the army to do a policeman's job. Don't call a policeman to do a psychiatrist's job.
     
  16. Gord

    Gord Member

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    So the article describes the kid acting like a complete nutcase, kicking doors and yelling at his family and holding a knife to his throat, mom calls the cops and says "my son has a knife and he wants to kill himself", cops get there, fire beanbag rounds which have no effect, and then shoot the kid as he tries to gain entry into the house.

    But wait, let's vilify the police because the kid wouldn't have harmed his family! The cops should have known that, right? Obviously we need to change department policy, preventing a possible hostage situation is wrong!

    One common theme I notice in these threads is that the cops are always supposed to know - they should know that you or I are 'good guys', they should know that the guy broken down by the side of the road won't harm them, and they should know that drunken, knife-wielding teenagers pose no threat to anybody.

    If they knew all the things that we armchair quarterbacks, with the benefit of hindsight, think they should, I'm pretty sure they'd be able to determine whether or not to dispatch anyone to a call in the first place, by knowing the outcome beforehand.

    They tried beanbag rounds with no effect. They only shot as the kid turned towards the door, ostensibly to try and get in, and hitched up his pants (which may have looked like he was reaching for something). What was Mommy expecting, a psychologist in a Care Bear suit with cotton candy and sunshine lollipops to sit down on the lawn with him and sing him softly to sleep?

    When you call the police and explain to them that someone is in your front yard, drunk, threatening to kill himself with a knife, I'm pretty sure they're going to arrive with the assumption that the someone in question is willing to follow through on his threats to harm or kill himself - and who's to say whether he is willing to harm or kill someone else? He's already behaving unstably.

    I'd like to hear what Mom thinks they should have done - I'd bet dollars to doughnuts we'd hear something like "they should have known he wouldn't hurt us, they should have known he wasn't a real threat..."

    Then why call the cops? :scrutiny:

    One: where is it mentioned that the officers responding had or did not have tasers?
    Two: If they did, were they air tasers? I don't think the police are going to stroll up to someone with a knife in order to tase them with a handheld taser.
    And three: If someone is threatening to jump off a bridge, they aren't potentially threatening others. This kid had several family and friends walking around outside with him and more inside the house he had been trying to get into. You're comparing apples to oranges and/or using emotion to make your argument.
     
  17. B.D. Turner

    B.D. Turner Member

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    On the incidents that I was involved in the only weapons I or the department had was OC spray, ASP, H&K USP .45 and a Moss 500 shotgun loaded with 00buck. Tazers and bean bag rounds were not an option.

    On another case we had a young man who became enraged with his parents. He had gotten on the roof of a storage building armed with a 30/06. His family called 911. The kid threatened to kill every officer that drove up in the yard. We parked down from the house and walked close enough to watch him through NV. Did an ID that he was armed with a rifle as stated. Called out SWAT. He was just sitting there and later fell asleep. The next day he had calmed down and came back into the house like nothing had ever happened. Had we rushed the house several officers could have been killed. If your suspects actions are based on your (the officers) actions sometimes it is better to slow things down. While every situation can turn sour it worked this time everyone left alive.
     
  18. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Member

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    Cops'll use a taser on just about any Tom, Dick, and Harry out there but when a call warrants using one, one ain't around. Maybe they don't have tasers in that agency...should look into it.

    Although, now that I think about it, it would've probably killed him anyway. Then they would have said he was on drugs and that was why he died.

    Greg
     
  19. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    I meant "sure." Honest, I did. No, really, that's what I meant to say. :uhoh:





    :evil: No matter what I type here at my office, my keyboard says "sue.";)
     
  20. foob

    foob Member

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    Er.. so the police don't know you aren't going to murder someone, can they arrest you for that? It is illogical that somehow not knowing, or not being able to know, whether you are going to do something, means they are justified in assuming you are going to do it.

    Basically there was no evidence that the kid was going to hurt his family. Zero, nada, zilch. So based on opportunity (family close by) and means (he had a knife), they shot the kid.

    Does that mean if you carry concealed, they can shoot you? You haven't demonstrated intent, but you have opportunity (people around you), and means (you have a gun).

    The kid demonstrated unwillingness to obey the cops, and a desire to kill himself, does that lead to a desire to kill others? That is the question you have to ask.


    I'm drawing conclusions based on the article, obviously, if there are other facts of the case released, other conclusions may be drawn. Is monday morning quarterbacking wrong? Hope not, else nobody can comment on the President, or anybody but himself.

    Er, my bad then, I'm saying if they had "air" tasers and beanbags, a better choice is taser. I made the assumption they had tasers, since I've read more news of police with tasers than with bead bag shotguns. They may not have had it.

    No the family were all inside the house, he was outside. What do you mean by potentially threatening others? Is jumping off a building and landing on another person potentially threatening others? Is holding a knife to your throat potentially threatening others? What emotion is in my argument, please point it out. I'm using analogies and examples, where is the emotion?
     
  21. glummer

    glummer Member

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    The cops should have known that they were shooting into the house.
    And, if I'm on the jury, that is way out of line, without something more that "the kid turned toward the house while holding a knife." It's HIS freakin' house!
    He MIGHT be dangerous.
    Bullets flying past grandma d**n well ARE dangerous.
     
  22. Gord

    Gord Member

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    It demonstrates that he was behaving unstably and that his actions could not be predicted. I'm sure you'll agree that a person acting rationally would not be standing outside his home with a knife to his throat, threatening to kill himself, nor would he disobey an order from police officers to drop his weapon.

    If you're drunk, threatening to kill yourself and refuse to put down your gun, yes. Especially if you then try to gain access to any building with other people inside.

    I'm sure they did.

    I agree that shooting towards the house was definitely out of line, but I expect they didn't have time to get into better shooting positions before the kid made his move for the door. I can't agree at all with their firing towards the house, but the alternative would have been the kid possibly gaining entry - both equally bad in my mind.

    Barricade/hostage situations are not something you want to allow to develop.
     
  23. glummer

    glummer Member

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    foob
    They should know that decisions like these are a matter of judgement, based on realistic appraisal of risks. High risk = greater caution; low risk = don't be so afraid.

    If you mean, when a check turns up a CCW for the driver, why, yes, they should know that such people are a very low risk population. And if they can't understand that, then they are too stupid, or paranoid, to be wearing badges and carrying guns.

    They should know that,absent definite indicators of danger, they are at no more (and probably less) risk, than anyone else stopping to help.

    They should know that the hypothetical, uncertain, risk posed by the kid is less than the real, definite, risk of bullets going into the house full of innocent people
     
  24. Gord

    Gord Member

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    Now look at it from their point of view. They're staring down the muzzle of a gun at some kid with a knife to his throat that they've never seen before, and he's trying to get into the house.

    I get the feeling that if it were you and your family inside the house, you'd be much less eager to afford the kid an opportunity to get through the door. (You'd also be quite a bit angrier at shots being fired towards your house - understandable.)

    But, yes - shooting towards the house was a bad call. I don't fault the officers for putting the kid down, but I do wish (again, with the benefit of hindsight, sitting here in my comfy chair in the AC) that more thought had been given to the cops' response.

    In a residential neighborhood, they probably wouldn't have been able to maneuver into any position that would afford them a clear shot at the kid without someone's house behind him, though. Not a good thing, but that's the nature of calls like this - police snipers face the same dilemma when taking shots at a suspect in a store, outside a motel, etc.

    The key phrase in your post is realistic assessment of risks. Neither you nor I were there to do the assessing - the officers were. Whether or not their assessment was correct is something we will never know, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the officers and not the drunken, belligerent kid with the knife he refused to drop.
     
  25. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

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    foob, I'm guessing you've never had to deal with a drunken suicidal person armed with a knife.

    It ain't fun.

    And good luck with that "talking them down".

    And normal experience has shown that suicidal tendencies are about a hairs breadth from homicidal tendencies.

    And Monday morning quarterbacking is great, but it helps if you have a clue what you are talking about. This article has very little meat to it. Did the cops do right? Beats me. But I'm going to refrain from condemning somebody with zero facts, in a situation that I know sucks.

    All we do know is that the kid was acting in an irrational manner. And for the record, bean bags rounds hit like a punch from Mike Tyson. People who aren't stupid or crazy tend to give up after getting bean bagged.

    As for putting some holes in the house. That is bad. No disagreement. But have you ever shot at a moving target in the dark with 100% accuracy when you had an adrenalin rush? Consensus on that is that it isn't very easy either. That is why we have Rule #4, but that got broken.

    Get drunk. Get stupid. Threaten deadly force. Don't drop the knife. Get shot. The circle of life continues.
     
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