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De-escalation and Worst Case Scenario

Watch the above video and if you have not yet done so, please check out the other articles on de-escalation

A moment of hesitation may cause you a lifetime of regrets.

In the early months of last year we tactical de-escalation and saving every human life became the flavor of the month for many top police commanders throughout the US.  What came next is a relentless approach to trying to teach police officers to "slow it down" and "give yourself time to think" as well as "assess the situation and use the proper escalation of force."

The officers in Fairbanks were probably given that type of training as well, they were told that they should do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation before resorting to deadly force.  That is a great idea, on paper, but in real life not using the level of force required to arrest a person may cause others to be hurt, through complete fault of the officers and especially their command staff.

"But he wasn't pointing the gun at anyone! He was just walking around with a gun in his hand!!!1!!"  Was he now?

The investigation summary reveals more details regarding the nature of the incident that led to Richards' death, as well as includes multiple video sources showing the shooting itself. FPD said they were called on the scene after Richards assaulted (by "pistol whipping") two residents, firing a bullet into the wall, and "demanding money and drugs."
He then walked away from the apartment, where FPD made contact with him. In the report, police say they called out to him several times, but he did not respond. Two officers fired their taser rounds at Richards, but neither were effective in stunning him.

Money and drugs, pistol whipping people and then discharging that pistol for whatever reason are not the actions of a law abiding citizen.  Furthermore, they would constitute felony charges in most states (as robbery and/or aggravated assault).  So that means the police were trying to stop a felon from escaping.

Graham V. Connor gave us a few objective standards which expanded on the TN V. Garner ruling - "the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight"  - Given the current understanding of this particular situation, would the officers have been justified in shooting the felon with a gun up on first contact and refusal to follow commands?  Yes.

We can skip the tactical issues which existed, ranging from a taser in one hand a rifle in another, while other officers were on scene, also equipped with rifles.  The fact that they did not run an L-Shape on him at any time until the moment he was shot in the face, twice.  The only issue I want to take up right now is that there were several officers with the ability to end this situation quickly and easily, but chose to not do because of some sort of de-escalation initiative.  That same de-escalation training which almost got a random citizen, minding his own business, killed.

Those officers were playing the "it's not the worst case scenario yet" game, and I would say lost.  Not a big loss, but a loss nonetheless.  The fact is that they allowed this person to roam, giving him time and space while they controlled the force.  This allowed him enough time to manifest his own level of force, by taking a hostage.  But the officers were in a tough spot, right? No, not even remotely.

What is the worst case scenario?  The body cam officer shooting the guy right away after giving him commands which he disregarded? Or the guy shooting the hostage before getting shot himself?  The latter, of course.  But how do we know he would do that? We have no way of knowing that can happen? This is true, of course we do not, but is it reasonable to allow an armed felon to walk around the streets while you shout the same command at him two dozen times until he finds a victim he believes will secure his escape?  Why do you think he is walking around in the first place?  Why is he not running? Because he is saving his energy for the big fight.

Half way through the video a car drives by and the bad guy walks right past it.  If that car had stopped, and he had gotten into it, point of gun, what would the officers do then?  Shoot him, right?  What exactly are they waiting for? Justification.

Only they had justification to do so the moment he failed to listen to commands and kept the gun in his hand.  Had he dropped the gun and continued walking we all know the likelihood of him being killed would greatly decrease.  De-escalation as taught in the police departments around the US currently is extremely dangerous.  Not just for the officers, but for the general public.


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