Sunday, January 04, 2009

What Not To Do...

The Seattle Times carries this story about a 22 year old college student who, when the police knocked at his door, greeted them with rifle in hand.

Seattle police shot and killed a University of Washington senior who was dressed in a World War II-era German uniform and who officers say was brandishing a long rifle with a bayonet early Thursday in his University District apartment.

The student, identified by friends as Miles Allen Murphy, was well-known on campus as a smart, eccentric history buff who loved to participate in WWII re-enactments and would even show up to class, at times, dressed in a historic uniform.

My first impulse was to yell "Loon" and go on to better things. But then I started to read the comments and I could hardly believe my eyes.

Murphy was killed about 2 a.m. Thursday when police responded to neighbors' complaints that several men were shooting vintage, military-style rifles and shotguns into a dark alley near the 5200 block of 17th Avenue Northeast, police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.

When police were called, Kappel said, neighbors pointed out an apartment in a large white house. When police knocked on the door, one of the suspects opened the door brandishing a long rifle with a large bayonet attached.

Uniformed police officers warned the man several times to drop his weapon. He didn't, Kappel said, and he pointed it at one of the officers. Two officers shot him several times. He died at a hospital Thursday morning, Kappel said.

This student may have had a quirky, eccentric in a brilliant way personality, but answering the door with a rifle in your hands when on the other side are standing armed, uniformed police is not eccentric or quirky. It is suicidal.

I've been accused of being a cop hater on this blog. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that, generally speaking, police officers have above average integrity and courage. Not all of them, but in my view most do. I have a problem with these two guys firing seven bullets at this kid. I know that police have to be exceptionally careful and I certainly support that, but wouldn't one or two shots have rendered the kid harmless. I question the two officers' courage and integrity. Posted on January 3, 2009 at 10:29 AM.

In my view the two officers are trigger-happy, cowardly thugs. Seven shots? Seven shots? Seven shots? Disgusting. Posted on January 3, 2009 at 4:18 AM.

Two cowardly, trigger happy cops. Pay the police more money, I say, so we can get better policemen. The two scums that murdered this kid should be thrown off of the police force. Posted on January 2, 2009 at 3:26 PM.

We need to pay the police a higher salary, so we can get officers with some courage and judgement. I view this killing of the student as a murder by two cowardly and stupid cops. Posted on January 2, 2009 at 7:13 AM.

Those two cops are disgusting murderers. Posted on January 2, 2009 at 3:33 AM.

Knowing the SPD, they just wanted to get a good start on their "murder by cop" quota for the year. Posted on January 2, 2009 at 2:00 AM

Hmmm... seen this scenario before. Cops gunning down people in their own homes. Standard practice is for the police to say that the shooting victim leveled the gun at the officers and all we have is the words of the cops who blew the guy away. From the languages he spoke to the many instruments the man could play he sounds like was a really intelligent guy, what a tragedy. Posted on January 2, 2009 at 6:46 AM

I think I'm having an out of body experience. Seattle is LA in 1995. Kill first, call the coroner and then find the facts. I'm sickened by this and will think twice before calling the police. They will shoot anyone, even the person who called. Is this really the law enforcement we want here?Posted on January 2, 2009 at 9:26 AM

There were about 175 comments on this article when I read it. I commented thus:

Looking at the tables compiled by the FBI, for the last ten years (1998 - 2007) 549 police officers were murdered in the US. Of these, 508 were shot to death - 368 by handguns, 101 by rifles and 38 by shotguns. Another 33 were run over intentionally. Stats are available here:

Cops are aware of the risks they take on every call. Cops get killed when they become complacent or too trusting. As a retired LEO in a medium sized city I have been in situations where I had the opportunity to shoot on several occasions. Thankfully I never did. The overwhelming majority of my fellow officers feel the same way. We join because of a desire to provide safety to our community. No one I knew suited up for work hoping they would kill someone. But we all shared the same thought when we responded to a high risk situation - we want to return home to our wives and children in the same condition as we left them.

I am simply appalled by some of the discourse on this thread for several reasons. First - it appears that many of you people accept as gospel everything you read in the papers. Please do not make this mistake.

Second - there are incredible misconceptions about what police can and should do. We are trained to respond in certain ways in certain situations. We only retreat when we see that an armed response will endanger others who are not a threat. We are the police. We are not the Boy Scouts or your attorney or your best friend. We are the last hope for many people who find themselves in desperate situations; retreat for the most part is not an option for us.

We accept a certain level of risk, it is inherent with the job. But we are not idiots.

A military rifle is a high powered weapon that will go through your typical police issued Threat Level II or IIA soft body armor like crap through a goose. These vest will stop .38 cal., 9mm, .45 cal and most shotgun rounds. It takes Level IV armor to stop a milspec round traveling in excess of 3000 fps. For the most part, that armor is much too heavy and much too restricting to be of practical use.

The above scenario occurred in a few seconds.

You are at a door, standing in a narrow hallway. You are mostly likely backlighted. There is no cover or concealment. You knock on the door. The door opens. You see the weapon pointed at you. Your heart goes into impossibly high gear, you scream a warning at the top of your lungs to drop the gun - once, maybe twice - wondering if the crazy SOB is going to blow your brains out.

You open fire at close range (probably within seven feet) , two to center mass and once at the head - just as you've been trained.

Or you don't open fire, hoping that he ain't all that crazy.

All this in about five seconds.

You have no idea on how smart this jackass is, or how dumb, what his parents and friends will think if you kill him or what a shame that this potential history teacher will never teach a single student.

What you do know is that some people called the police about someone shooting rifles and now you have some guy dressed in a WWII German Army uniform pointing a rifle at you.

Go ahead, you have seconds to make your decision as whether to shoot or not to shoot. And don't worry about it, we'll all be here safe and snug in our living rooms days later to criticize you.

Third - there are some incredible morons out there who have access to computers and an ISP.

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