#In other news, a grand jury found the Silverton cop who killed an Irish kid a few weeks ago was justified in his use of force. The kid was unarmed and not very big, but he was also mentally disturbed. There was quite a to-do when it happened, and his family was understandably upset.
Here's the gist, as I understand it: The young man, Andrew Hanlon, an Irish citizen, living with his brother, apparently slipped over the edge one evening and started hollering and pounding on a stranger's door. Hard enough to leave skin and blood on the wood, while, according to the woman inside who made a panicked 911 call, (during which you can hear the kid yelling and hammering,) screaming that he was the angel of death, along with howling at the moon.
I dunno about your neighborhood, but I would be disposed to consider that unusual and a tad unsettling in mine, somebody pounding on my front door, baying like a wolf, and calling himself the angel of death, especially after eleven p.m. on a Monday night.
Friday night? Yeah, but ... Monday?
The cop, Tony Gonzalez, arrived, apparently tried to calm the kid down, with his hands empty. Didn't work. After a dance, the kid charged; Gonzalez, backed away, yelling Stop! and started shooting. Hit the kid five times, but even so he kept going, according to witnesses.
The whole story in The Oregonian is here.
This is an unfortunate incident, and your heart goes out to the dead man and his family. (And the cop has problems of his own -- in an unrelated event, he was busted for messing with an underage girl. All the paper says about that is that she was under age eighteen, and that it was apparently consensual and went on for a while. I'm guessing his career as an LEO is probably over -- certainly if he's found guilty it is.)
But given the circumstances, I wonder what I would have done had it been me on patrol when the call came in? The kid ran, the cop pursued, heard what he thought was breaking glass, maybe giving the kid a weapon, then he got charged. He backed all the way across the street from the kid, yelling Stop! and shooting.
The dead man needed medical help, he shouldn't have been running around on his own, and the health care system failed him. But that's not the policeman's fault. Nor his job.
This is where families and horrified citizens start asking why not the nightstick, or the Taser, why the gun? And the answer, hard as it is, is that if you roll on a cop with a gun in his hand and scare him enough so he thinks he might be in deadly danger? He can shoot you, legally, and in my book, morally. Somebody that crazy, maybe the stick or the pepper spray or Taser will do the trick, but -- would you risk your neck and the future welfare of your family on "maybe" in that situation?
A man has a gun pointed at you and yells, "Stop or I'll shoot!" You have to know that not-stopping could be bad, especially if you are running at him and not away from him.
Sad that a disturbed young man had to die. Sad that he couldn't get the help he needed.
If the kid had gotten a broken bottle, or had a knife and the cop hadn't shot, then the story could have had a different and no less tragic ending.
No joy in this one.