Joe Doakes from Como Park emails
You’re a cop. You’ve stopped a driver and have him standing on the side of the road because he’s got warrants for his arrest. He dives back into the car, presumably going for his gun. What do you do?
a. grab him from behind and wrestle with him. No, because he might still grab his gun and shoot you.
b. grab your expandable baton and smack him. No, because he’s diving into the car and there’s no room to swing the baton.
c. grab your pepper spray and Mace him. No, because inside the car, it’ll blind you, too.
d. grab your Taser and shock him. Maybe, depends on who else has hands on him that will also get shocked. What other options do you have?
e. grab your . . . .
. . . too late. He shot you. You’re dead and so’s your partner.
Intellectually, she intended to grab her Taser but instinctively, she grabbed her pistol. It’s a learned response. It’s what cops practice the most. Gun instructors say “train as you will fight” because that’s how your body will react in the half-second available. And cops train with guns because that’s ‘the gravest extreme,’ when the training matters most.
Officer Potter did not commit murder. This was a horrible accident but entirely foreseeable because the decision-action table is too long, too many variables to run through, and nobody can ‘train as you fight’ for all of them.
A roof on qualified immunity quite a bit – Justifiably so – but at its core, it is intended to protect people like police from excessive liability for exactly this sort of situation.
Unlike civilians, who are legally strongly discouraged from doing anything but running away from altercations, the police are expected to go toward the sound of trouble.
The pendulum likely need to swing back. I’m pretty sure this is a terrible case to enact that swing.