Knife wielding suspect subdued (and lives)

The title gives the climax away, but that is not the whole story. A man wielding two knives was threatening people in the halls of his apartment complex.

Three police officers showed up and told the man they had a taser and asked him to put down the knives. After a lengthy discussion and pleas, one officer moved toward the man who lunged at the officer and was tased. Remarkably, the man kept trying to knife the officer, who was able to avoid getting stabbed. The man was taking away to face a court date and jail time.

There are two other keys to this story. It was in Australia, not the US. In Charlotte last year, a man wielding a knife was shot dead by police with nine shots. I understand police have a difficult job, but the eagerness and frequency in which assailants are shot seems much higher here on the US. Plus, the number of shots stymies me – nine, eleven, sixteen shots are too representative.

The other issue worth noting is the man was white. I often use the story of how a 65 year old white man was disarmed by Detroit police after an hour conversation. Tamir Rice, an adolescent black boy, was killed within two seconds due to the toy gun he was carrying. Why? Why is there such haste to unload a weapon when the alleged perpetrator is black?

We must do better at addressing these issues. The police are doing a hard job, made harder as they don’t know who is packing heat and what firepower such heat has. I believe this adds even more tension to any police encounter where there is uncertainty. And, race plays a huge factor. Another black man was gunned down at a Walmart by police yesterday.

We cannot overtrain police at identifying threats and de-escalating tense situations. And, we must treat every shooting like the pilots investigate crashes. We must be transparent and learn how to avoid poor or hasty decisions. Other western countries do not have our overall and police gun death rates. We must do better.


15 thoughts on “Knife wielding suspect subdued (and lives)

  1. We must, indeed, do better. But … instead, we are actually doing worse. You make your point in a very good way, my friend. But, if only the people who need to hear this message would listen. Instead, we have rolled back the monitors and training on police departments that were implemented during the Obama presidency by Loretta Lynch. Where does it end, this backward trajectory? Where are Abraham, Martin and John when we need them?

      • As I wrote to Jill, it frustrates me that people make this a wedge issue to get elected. We need saner people to say this is a problem and let’s do something about it. Maybe the aliens would tell us to get out of the pool until we figure this out. Thanks for commenting. Keith

    • Jill, many thanks. I fully recognize the police have a tough job, but it greatly frustrates me to see people demonize Black Lives Matter based on the actions of a few. I think I mentioned to you the conversation with a conservative friend who called it a terrorist group. I shared with him how wrong that is, but it gets down to a purposeful PR act to make an important movement a wedge issue. Where are the saner voices in all of this? Keith

      • The saner voices, like mine and yours, are being drowned out by all the screaming and shouting of the other voices, people like Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, Donnie Trump, and so many others. They have been given the microphone, and we have only our un-amplified voices. Loud and bold seems to win the day … soft and intelligent, not so much. How do we turn this around? I wish I knew.

      • Jill, I did find it positive that two Sandy Hook families are now suing Jones for releasing his hounds on them when all they did was bury their murdered children. Hannity’s troubles are not over as they still need to read Cohen’s files. I find it interesting that Hannity was either looking for free advice or was guided to Cohen who may have been told to do a favor. The former says he is cheap, the latter could be even more troubling if the favor was to
        Cohen’s other client. Keith

      • Ah, great minds DO think alike, for I just wrote on those lawsuits yesterday! As for Hannity, I read today that he told the judge that it was untrue, that he had NOT used Cohen’s services, and then asked for client-attorney privilege. The judge basically told him that he needed to make up his mind, for he couldn’t have it both ways. If this plot gets any thicker, we will need sharp knives to cut through the muck!

      • Jill, one of three things happened with respect to Hannity. He either wanted free legal advice which is cheap given his income, he did not want the advice written down which is cautious or someone else is paying for it, which could be interesting, as it may be a returnees favor for good press.

        I think all three are likely. But, as you note, he cannot have it both ways in terms of not being a client and wanting A/C privilege. Keith

    • Hugh, I think there is validity to your point. The skeptic in me believes that there is an unwritten rule that if a police officer uses a weapon to put down the perpetrator and not leave a witness. This is very cynical, but adrenalin does not seem to explain away the too common double digit shots fired. I feel saddened to write these words, as I know how dangerous the job is. That is why training is so very needed to avoid using that weapon. People should not have to die at a routine traffic stop because of the color of their skin. Keith

  2. Good post, Keith. I’m hopeful that the public outcry and demonstrations that follow these incidents will help to deter them in the future.

    • John, lessons must be learned. Until there is transparent review with a goal to understand and improve along with criticizing, if necessary, change won’t occur. I grow weary of those who try to politicize and not solve these problems. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I would be remiss if I did not mention the countless good stories about police interactions with people. These get overlooked and overshadowed by the far fewer negative ones. To me, this emphasizes the need to be transparent when investigating when things go badly. There are too many situations where fault is in evidence to some degree, but critique or punishment are not forthcoming. These are opportunities missed that have flavored things in a negative way.

  4. Note to Readers: If you are not familiar with this song, I encourage you to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s song “American Skin” also known as “41 Shots.” The song is self-explanatory.

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