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john65pennington's avatar

Could this police shooting have been handled differently?

Asked by john65pennington (29080 points ) November 24th, 2010

Police go to this residence to serve a felony warrant. Woman answers the door. Her boyfriend runs and immediately pulls down the folding stairs and hides in the attic. Police ask woman if her boyfriend is armed. She gives no answer. Officer proceeds to climb the folding stairs to search for the wanted criminal. As soon as the officer reaches the top ladder step and turns on his flashlight to search, wanted felon opens fire and shoots the officer in the head, killing him instantly. Other officers are downstairs and hear the gunshots. They immediately open fire and riddle the ceiling with bullits, killing the suspect. An ambulance is called. Neither survived. Question: Could this incident have been handled in another way, in order save both lives? If so, how?

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6 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Most definitely! I am not a cop and have no training other than fire arm safety. I would think perp pursuit protocols would caution if not flat out rule against entering an enclosed area like an attic entry way even if the perp was presumed to be unarmed. Where the heck is he going to go anyway? He is trapped with nowhere to go and can easily be verbally negotiated with and simply wait it out if need be. I feel bad for both families of the deceased.

Coloma's avatar

I think hindsight is always 20–20.

I agree with @Cruiser that it seemed foolish to poke ones head into an attic with a potentially dangerous suspect, but…police are not supermen and they are subject to all the basic human folly as we all are.

Personally I think the women should be seriously punished for refusing to disclose to the officers that her man had a weapon.

SHE carries a goodly amount of the responsibility IMO.

I can’t imagine having to make split second decisions under the kind of pressure cops are under in so many situations.

So much to consider in a situation like that.

What if the guy holed up in the attic and stated playing sniper with neighborhood passerby?

Who knows what scenarios were going on in that officers head.

john65pennington's avatar

I have also had afterthoughts of that incident. i keep asking myself, why did they not us a K-9 to search the attic? also, what about a mirror on a long handle?

I was not there, but i did investigate the slain officers background, when he first applied to be an applicant as a police officer. he had just about the most perfect background, i have ever checked. he was loved by everyone that surrounded him. the people he protected also loved this man. it was a shame how all of this played out. the woman knew he was armed and she was charged and convicted as an accessory to homocide and harboring a fugitive. she will an old woman when her time is up.

The slain officers funeral procession was about five miles long.

Disc2021's avatar

I dont know if standard police officers are armed with flash-bang or stun grenades, but they could have tossed one of those up the attic first, or a type of tear gas.

buster's avatar

I don’t know but last week here in Miami the police served an eviction notice on an condo in South Beach. They had the maintenance man unlock the apartment. When he did the occupant of the apartment opened fire and killed the maintenance man. The police then critically wounded the gunmen. What should have been differently? Also pennington do you remember a few years ago when the Lebanon Tennessee police or Wilson county Sheriffs Department kicked in the door on the wrong house thinking it was a dopehouse and an old man raised up a shotgun because he was scared and the police shot him dead? How should that have been handled differently?

woodcutter's avatar

it seems the officer was not thinking clearly when he decided to put his head right there in the 10 ring. What a waste.

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