In an article featured today on the website Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, Public Policy Advocates, Marty Ryan takes a look at a phenomenon called “suicide by cop.” For those unfamiliar with that term, this is a situation whereby an individual intentionally puts law enforcement in a position to act in a manner that would end the life of that same individual. In most cases, the person wants to die, but is not able to carry out the act himself for whatever reason.
Reading the article, it appears to to go down the path of investigating why this is becoming a practice that is done more often than in the past. However, the article devolves into an indictment of use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. As evidence of excessive force, Mr. Ryan points to several incidents that took place in Iowa over the past 6 years or so. Five individual instances of citizens refusing to comply with lawful orders of law enforcement officers to stop whatever action they were performing, including the display (or use) of deadly weapons (or something that resembled a deadly weapon) were referenced. In each case, Mr. Ryan laments that law enforcement was not at all justified in their use of deadly force to end the situation. For example:
This past May police were called to a residence in Ogden, IA after a neighbor accused the man in the residence of making harassing phone calls. When police arrived at the residence in question, the accused answered the door with a handgun. The reactive police force went into panic mode and cordoned off the house, evacuated neighbors, and after a ceremonial waiting period, entered the house.
“Randall D. Kimsey 50, had been suicidal in the past and authorities were worried that he had taken prescription drugs,” The standard operating procedure for a suicidal citizen appears to be what occurred next. A SWAT team entered his home in full gear and shot Kimsey to death. Police took the moral road of shooting Kimsey to protect him from committing suicide.
Reactive police? Of course they are reactive! They react to situations as they arise. They cannot see into the future with any degree of accuracy to determine what course of action someone will take. Therefore, by default, they are reactive.
Panic mode? If one could reasonably assume that taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and the neighbors from harm, then yes, it is probably panic.
Ceremonial waiting period? Witnesses probably saw lots of incense, candles, and other assorted ceremonial items in and near the area occupied by the police while they were determining what course of action they were going to take as a follow-up to their panic.
SWAT in full gear? One can reasonably argue that every member of the SWAT unit wanted to return home to their families at the end of their shift, and they would take all precautions against unknown circumstances to do so. Anything less would be ludicrous.
Moral road? Shooting Kimsey to protect him from committing suicide? This is flat out arrogant on the part of Mr. Ryan. Since Mr. Ryan was NOT in the house when the incident took place, he has no way of knowing what happened inside. Furthermore, law enforcement officers are not trained in the art of taking the moral road of shooting someone to protect him from committing suicide. They are, however, trained in the use of deadly force when necessary to protect themselves or others.
Perhaps Mr. Ryan should attend several days – or weeks – at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy to witness this firsthand before writing about something the he knows nothing about.
According to Mr. Ryan, the most egregious act of “police homicide” took place when a 20 year old by the name of Ricky Garcia, Jr. was shot 29 times in downtown Des Moines in 2004 after a high speed pursuit. Mr. Ryan wonders why it took 29 shots to bring down Ricky, and why law enforcement was justified in using that many rounds against him. What Mr. Ryan fails to tell his readers is that Ricky had already tried to kill two police officers during the pursuit; that Ricky had called friends during the pursuit, telling them that he would not be going to jail, he was not going to be arrested, and that he would kill any officer that tried to capture him; and that there were not one, but five officers involved in the shooting. When Ricky exited his vehicle (before it even stopped moving), went to the ground to evade fire and select a target, all the while shooting with his own weapon, officers had no choice but to use deadly force in order to protect themselves and the public. The five officers involved in the shooting did not have the time to coordinate (have a ceremonial meeting, perhaps?) who would be doing the actual shooting. Instead, the situation evolved at a rapid pace, and in the end, five officers shot 5 or 6 times each – not at all an excessive amount of fire.
At this point, you might be asking what this has to do with gun rights in general. It’s actually very simple. When we begin to question why law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect citizens (and themselves for that matter) would use deadly force in their duties as opposed to shooting in a non-vital area, using a baton, taser, or pepper spray, or even talking or going hands-on with a subject, how can a common citizen even stand a chance of doing so to protect themselves?
The use of deadly force is not the correct answer in every situation, whether one is a law enforcement officer or a private citizen. Unfortunately for Mr. Ryan, every situation he chose to highlight was a situation where deadly force was justified. In some cases, it would have been justified for any private citizen to use deadly force if put in the exact same scenario. Mr. Ryan apparently lives in a world where law enforcement is omnipotent and omniscient and deadly force is justified only after all other means of force are used and fail in sequence. The place where that actually exists is called Utopia. Like Mayberry, Utopia is a make believe world.
It has been said that ignorance is bliss. If that is true, then ignorance of how things work in the real world could certainly be blissful. That same ignorance can also be deadly. Hopefully, Mr. Ryan will continue to live in bliss and never be subjected to what the real world is capable of delivering to him. If the unthinkable ever happened to Mr. Ryan, he would likely be the very first person who would want the police to do everything in their power to mitigate the situation as quickly and effectively as possible.
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