Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

A justifiable death

Written By: Bob - Jan• 28•12

I’ve seen quite a few bloggers link to the bystander video of Monterrey Park Police officers shooting a man in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr . this past Monday morning.

It seems like everyone wants to armchair quarterback this event. I’ll simply note the following:

  • While the video isn’t great and audio is non-existent, the officers presumably warned the suspect to put down his weapon. The weapon itself has been described as a pipe bender or a Stanley Fubar, tools akin to a medieval war hammer in both shape and potential lethality.
  • One officer then tried to use a taser, and it failed; the suspect simply removed the barbs and tossed them away without suffering any noticeable effects.
  • As the officer that tased the suspect was re-holstering his taser, the man stepped towards him and raised the tool as if it swing it at the retreating officer.
  • The K-9 officer covering the suspect reacted to the aggressive escalation against his fellow officer by firing his weapon five times center  mass at the suspect.
  • The suspect either retreated or fell backwards out of the camera’s line of sight.
  • The officer originally deploying the taser fired an additional five shots at the suspect, who is still out of view of the camera behind the car.
  • The suspect died of his wounds.

I don’t think there is anything like a “good” shooting. They are simply either justifiable or unjustifiable.

In this instance, officers responded to a disturbance and found a man armed with a large and potentially lethal construction tool. The suspect appears to have refused commands, was unfazed by less-lethal force, then aggressively raised the weapon and stepped toward a police officer, and appeared to be in range to deliver a crippling or murderous blow with his weapon.

The K-9 officer that fired first appears to have been justified in firing his weapon to stop the lethal threat to his fellow officer. Based upon the research I’ve read about combat stressors, I’m almost surprised he didn’t empty the magazine.

The “taser” officer fired shots at a suspect after the suspect went out of frame, behind a car that blocked the camera’s view of the situation. We simply can’t tell if his shots were justified or not, and it is irresponsible to speculate without more evidence than we have.

I do think that most reasonable people would agree that if the suspect was down at this point and was not acting in an aggressive manner, then the second volley of shots is harder to justify.

That allowed, we’re not in the best vantage point to second guess the events, and once the suspect aggressively moved toward the “taser” officer and raised his weapon, he earned his death.

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  1. Barring evidence to the contrary, IMHO the second officer gets benefit of the doubt here. K-9 cop probably scored 1 or 2 hits to center mass out of those 5, but for sake of argument let’s say he hit five. Someone hopped up on enough to shrug off a taser could easily take 5 bullets to non-instakill spots (base of brain, high spinal column, heart, etc.) and not be able to tell that he was a dead man walking. If he’s even remotely upright, I’d keep shooting.

  2. Mike says:

    Why didn’t he shoot the weapon out of his? I’ve seen cops do that on television shows…he could do that, right? Or, even use reason with the guy…I mean, come on. What reasonable person wouldn’t listen to reason? The guy was just probably upset that he lost his house to foreclosure…the banks drove him to take this action.

  3. Huh, this is a different video than the one I saw before, I think. This appears to be the guy in the back seat, and the other was the guy in the front seat.

    You can see that the suspect is still standing when the second five shots are taken. I can’t say for sure that they were justified, but they look like they were.

  4. Barney says:

    In rerunning the video, at the 46 second mark you can clearly see the second officer’s shots going in as the subject has turned away as his head is still above the roof of the car. If any hit, they’d of gone into his back or back right side.
    As for why the K9 cop didn’t fire any more, I’d suspect that 120 lbs of lunging K9 held in his left hand was pulling his whole body and gun to the right towards his fellow officer.
    Why the first officer thought that the taser darts would penetrate the loose hoodie the suspect was wearing is probably a training issue. I don’t know the ROE for dog use, but it would seem to me that the dog could have been used to blindside the suspect as he advanced on the first officer. Once the dog controlled the weapon, 450 lbs of officers should of been able to subdue one nitwit on the ground.
    Looks like suicide by cop to me.

  5. Robert says:

    It’s the Rodney King scenario, with the difference being that Rodney was unarmed. Rodney, too, was hit with a Taser and pulled out the barbs, then continued to refuse to cooperate; since he was unarmed and didn’t respond to being Tased, cops went with the only available alternative, which was fists and nightsticks. This guy’s mistake was to have a weapon and refuse to drop it. Had he dropped it and then continued to refuse submission, they could have turned the K9 loose on him, then tackled him.

    He chose…poorly.

  6. Hand Banana says:

    Being some one that is quick to criticize the “only ones” when they are in the wrong…that seems like a justifiable shooting to me. I would have dumped my gun into that guy in the same situation.

  7. Neo says:

    Short of the man having a gun, shooting 5 shots, after the man was down, is highly questionable. It’s unlikely he poised a further danger.

    I’m almost surprised he didn’t empty the magazine.
    Good God, most civilians would go to jail if they did that, even if the first few shots were justifiable.

  8. Chief661 says:

    Bob, I usually agree with you, but on this one I have a question. Why do purportedly the “highly trained” PD get a break, i.e. are held to a lower standard, when it comes to whether a shoot was justified or not? If I, as a citizen, were to KIA some bad buy under the same circumstances you can bet the farm that the DA is going to charge me with me with the wrongful use of lethal force; manslaughter or some variation. I would have fight for my freedom even if I felt threatened/justified in firing. Even if you find that the first officer was justified by firing the 5 rounds it took to take this bad guy down; how is the second officer justified in firing again when the bad guy was either down, or going down? This was suicide by cop in my admittedly non-expert opinion.

  9. david7134 says:

    Why didn’t they use the dog? It seems that they went to guns far to quick.