Can You Blame Cops After They Shoot Someone

Can You Blame Cops After They Shoot Someone

Death News Opinion War

After catching a post about an American Police Officer shooting dead a 12 year old boy who had a “toy gun” I thought it about time I made my thoughts know on this and subjects like this.

Nearly every comment on the post was very critical of the Police Officer who shot the 12 year old & obviously there were questions such as:

  • Why didn’t he wait more than 2 seconds?
  • Why couldn’t he see it was a fake gun?
  • Why didn’t he ask questions first & shoot later?

…and so on.

Put your self in the cops shoes

You are now that Police Officer

Ok, are you ready? Let’s go!

You’re in your patrol car when it comes through on the radio that a member of the public has reported there is someone in a park with a gun. When you get to the scene you see a boy (well a 12 year old) with a gun & he immediately points it at you. You haven’t had a chance to examine the weapon yet so you don’t know the state of it. Now the 12 year old is no longer a boy: he is pointing a deadly weapon at you & is now a threat to your very life. Your training kicks in & you fire two shots in to the suspect to neutralise the threat.

Wow. It all happened so quick – but what options did you have really?

A sign saying 'possibilities' on numerous arrows

Lets take a look at some of your options.

Let’s get the ludicrous one out of the way. When the call comes through on the radio you think “I’m not going to see to that, are you mad!”. Obviously that would [hopefully] never happen. If it did you would last a week as a Law Enforcement officer at the most.

Option 1: “He looks like my boy!”

You pull up at the scene and get out your car in order to assess the situation. You see a 12 year old boy immediately raise what looks like a weapon to face you. Your a father of a 12 year old yourself & you think “he looks the same age as my little boy. This can’t be right”.


The 12 year old who looks like your little boy pulls the trigger & kills you.

Option Conclusion

As a professional Law Enforcement officer you are paid to make quick decisions & tough choices in very little time. Maybe that wasn’t a real gun that he had but you are paid to protect your own life as well as the lives of others. If you wait to make the decision to fire you are putting your life & the lives of others at risk.

Option 2: You jump out of the way

You pull up at the scene & get out of your car in order to assess the situation. You see a 12 year old boy immediately raise what looks like a weapon to face you. You would like to talk to him & ask him some questions. You decide that it would be wrong to shoot without asking the right questions so you dive behind your car & try to talk to the boy.


He sees a lone female walking by & shoots her instead.

Option Conclusion

Now that an innocent member of the public has been shot because of your inaction everybody is pointing out that a 12 year old has exactly the same potential to fire a weapon as an adult. Everybody is pointing to examples such as the Columbine high school massacre & a family no longer have their Mother; Wife & Daughter.

The above examples are just that… examples & of course they are worse case scenarios. However; If a member of the public is believed to be in danger, a Police Officer’s duty is to:

  1. make split second decisions
  2. formulate an immediate plan of action with the best information available at the time

If you would like to know my experience of these situations then read about my experiences below

Put yourself in their place for a change.

Tell me: what would you do in this situation? Would you do any of the options above or would you have done something different?

What are Police Officers paid for?

Police Officers are paid to protect the public: that includes everybody from themselves to people who try to kill them. It is of course best to diffuse situations before taking permanent action such as discharging firearms, however, there are situations where their lives & the lives of others are under immediate threat. In these situations their job is to preserve life.

We have to put our trust in someone

Who exactly do you want to protect us and keep us safe at night? I will assume that as a responsible law abiding citizen you want the Police Department to protect you & keep you safe when you’re in bed at night.

Should the Police even carry firearms?

If you live in the United States of America or indeed many other countries then Police Officers are armed as standard & it's a way of life. Whether this is right or not is not for this post but consider this. In a country where guns are so easy to get hold of is it right that you ask the Police Officers protecting you not to carry them?

In the United Kingdom & many other countries we do not have armed Police Officers as standard but this debate does crop up from time to time.

Airsoft guns are not toy guns

Image of a toy gun that looks very real

Can you tell if this is a toy gun?

A lot has been made in the comments of the mentioned post that this was a toy gun. Let’s get this right: an airsoft gun is not a toy gun. It has the facility to fire projectiles. People are hurt every day because others think that air guns are safe. My own cat lost its eye after being shot with an air gun.

Air guns still kill

Last year in my very own local City a man was killed with an air rifle

…& what about bank staff?

Staff who work in financial institutions such as banks & post offices aren’t trained to spot air guns. A member of staff who has an air gun thrust into their face may have the same nightmares as one who has a real gun thrust into their face.

Are Body Cameras An Ideal Solution?

In the UK some Police Forces have started experimenting with body-cameras. Although freedom activists aren’t too happy with this they have to ask themselves what they prefer. I however believe that this is an ideal solution and would stop many complaints from members of the public.

My Own Experiences

As a former soldier in the British Army there have been occasions when I have had make rough decisions. I can say from personal experience that although I was fully aware that an individual was someone’s Son, Husband & Father that completely changed when that individual became an immediate threat to either myself or anybody else. I could have asked questions first & shot later on several occasions but that was not an option. Failure to act on my part could have meant that someone else could have been killed.

I totally sympathise with any Police Officer who has to do this terrible act. With regards the incident in Ferguson, Missouri I totally understand when Office Wilson says that his conscience is clear. When you do your job properly & you fire your weapon as a last resort you DO have a clear conscience. There is nothing else you could do & like I said before… a lack of action could easily mean that you or other die.


The Police Officers who are charged with your protection have much training & they are paid for their work. If you do not like the Police Force or the way that they are doing things it is your responsibility to write to your MP (In the UK)/Congress person (in the US) or other elected representative. If you live in a country without elected officials then you’re basically out of luck… sorry!

The next time this happens you should stop and think not only of the conciquences of any lack of action but about what options an individual had before taking a life. You should ask yourself who you want protecting our streets. On one hand do you want a body of weak Police Officers who let themselves be walked over all of the time? This would be the outcome of a Police Force that gives people the benefit of the doubt all the time.

On the other hand do you want to get rid of the Police Force and have a gang of Vigilantes patrolling your neighbourhood. I don’t know about you but that IS NOT OK with me.

What do you think? I’m keen to know what you think & maybe what you would have done in the example above.

Thank God for my legs and my life

Thank God for my legs and my life

Death Personal War

From driving habits to bombs with a 5 year old

On our walk up to school today Rowan and I started talking about people’s driving habits. This led on to me telling him about when I used to drive a big van with blue lights on it. This in turn led me to explain to Rowan about bombs and my time in Iraq as part of the bomb disposal team.

We ended up chatting about bombs and what they do and it brought to the very front of my mind how lucky I am to not only have my life but in particular my legs.

Going to camp DogWood with The Black Watch

As part of the bomb disposal team based an a small Hell-hole called Al-Amarah in Iraq which lies about half way between Basra and Baghdad we were tasked with the IEDs from a wide geographical area. One of the opportunities we had was to support the feared and infamous Black Watch [1][2] on their trip up north to Camp DogWood. The team and I (well the Boss) tried his best to get us on the job but we were not chosen and it was decided from high up that another IED team should take the task on.

The bad news came

As we had not been chosen for the job we just carried on with our normal taskings and in the coming days we received the news that the team that had been assigned the task had been hit by a vehicle borne IED (suicide bomber).

As well as 3 members of The Black Watch losing their lives [1][2] the members of the IED team who was doing my job as well as another member of the Royal Corp of Signals had lost their legs. If memory serves me correct the soldier doing my job was standing behind the door of a Warrior Armoured Vehicle. If he had not been then he may well have lost his life.

These two Soldiers were Mick Brennan and Neil Heritage.

This made us all very sad: not just for our fellow IED Regiment members but especially for the 3 who had made the ultimate sacrifice. It could well have been our team who was in that position and in particular it could have been I that was injured and now without my legs.

An image of many poppies

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion – The fallen will always be remembered by those who appreciate their sacrifice

Remembering all of this made me quite sad (but very thankful) this morning and upon returning from my walk from the School-run I started to look into this further. Initially this was just to confirm my own memories. As it happens the soldier who was doing my job started to ski as part of his rehabilitation and has represented the UK in the Sochi Winter Olympics [1][2].

I then began to dig deeper and found him on Facebook. Upon messaging him it turns out that unlike me he is not at all down about what happened.

Thank God for my legs and my life

All of this makes me thank God for my legs but also for the fact that I am alive and I have the love and support of those around me.

Although I do have PTSD, I feel no guilt over this particular subject: I have a very matter of fact view of it. I feel no guilt as there was nothing I could have done to change the situation. Nothing I would have done would have meant that we could have been sent to that job. All the circumstances that played out were beyond the control of our team.

To forget or not to forget…that is the question!

Although on one hand I wish I could forget my times on certain far off lands, on the other hand I never wish to forget a single moment of my time in these very same countries. They remind me of how lucky any of us are to be alive; to have loved ones around us and also reminds me of the good that I have done with my life.

On reflection. If I had the choice between remembering or not remembering I would definitely choose to remember. There are many quotes I could point to such as:

  • “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana
  • “Only by remembering the past can we avoid repeating it” – John Evans (2014)

but in essence they come down to this. It would be an insult to all those who have fallen protecting their way of life if we were to forget the sacrifice they made on our behalf.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day

Death War

Today (27 January 2014) we remember (I don’t think celebrate is the right word) Holocaust Memorial Day. As most of us above a certain age have, I have watched many programs which have had things relating to the Holocaust in them. For me most poignant was the ending to “Hitler: Rise of Evil” where it went through the list of statistics that were associated not only with The Holocaust but for World War 2.

Lessons Learnt?

It has to be asked whether we as mankind have learnt the lessons of such atrocities. We have situations in various countries throughout the globe that are reminiscent of the discrimination that led to The Holocaust. The only reason (in my opinion) that some of them have not spread far is the conflicts are quite localised even though the hatred between groups of people is obvious. Again as with The Holocaust the hatred is often along religious lines.

To me it appears that for every generation that passes so does a chunk of the humanity and freedom that was so hard fought for.

The danger (again in my opinion) is when people begin to start to see unnatural death/murder/homicide as an acceptable “part of life”. In these situations the emotions that are naturally attached to such events are stripped and one no longer sees the enemy as someone’s Mother or Son etc.

As a soldier the causing of someone’s death would always have been a last resort and the knowledge that one has the skill and equipment to not only stop somebody’s heart from beating but the ability to metaphorically break the heart of a full family or more is one that is normally not taken for granted.

Death as a habit

Unfortunately there are times when death does become part of every day life and in my opinion more importantly death and misery becomes a habit

Example: Abu Ghraib

In the early part of this century there was an outcry (an rightly so) after torture was discovered at the Abu Graib detention centre.

Look: I am in no way saying that what went on there was right (it was completely wrong) but I feel that I can offer a bit of an explanation for the behaviour of the persons convicted of the torture.

Example: My Bomb-Disposal Tour

When one is working around death and human misery on a daily basis and it is the prominent feature of their lives the mind has to find a way of dealing with what it knows to be wrong.

When I was on my bomb-disposal tour I was surrounded by death many times a day and it was the over-riding factor in my life at that time. I/we did things on that tour that our minds would not think of doing under normal circumstances. Death and therefore human life became cheap and worthless and our minds had to find a way to deal with the enormous stresses that they were under. In this situation your mind finds a way to deal with it or you crack up – it’s as simple as that.

These are the dangers of living and working in an such environments. Although these examples are not on the scale of the Holocaust they show that the mind can make us do things we would not ordinarily do.

The Holocaust Legacy

As time passes and so do the survivors of The Holocaust we have to rely more and more on their stories from other sources (papers/recordings etc). It also makes it easier for those convinced The Holocaust was a lie to spread their thoughts unchallenged by first hand knowledge.

Recently “la quenelle” invented by the French comedian Dieudonn M’bala M’bala has been made even more famous by the French footballer Anelka. Anelka now faces a lengthy ban for his reverse Nazi salute and in my opinion this will not be a long enough ban. He is seen as an influential figure amongst the young and there are many reports of children in schools now doing the quenelle. Although this is claimed to be an anti-establishment gesture I believe it to be an anti-Semitic gesture and I believe Anelka should face a one season ban (as should all racist football convictions).

Iby Knill

Iby Knill is a woman that has survived the most notorious concentration camp – Auschwitz. She has given a 20 minute interview which is available on You Tube and has also written a book about her experiences. Is it because of people like Mrs. Knill that we are able to keep the memories (and by definition the lessons) of The Holocaust alive.

In the interview she says that most of the Germans were “Twisted”. It may be that their mind was telling them to do things they wouldn’t normally do because their mind was under massive stress; it may just have been because they hated (possibly by brainwashing) the Jews.

Holocaust Memorial Day – Conclusion

Although this post has been a bit all over the place I hope that I get my feelings on The Holocaust across and I hope I can offer some insight into why some people see life as cheap.

Do I dislike the German’s because of The Holocaust? Absolutely not. That would be like hating the current UK Government for the Miner's strike of the 80s.

After living in Germany for 5 years as part of the British Army I can honestly say that the German’s are just as nice as the British. I have had many good nights out in Germany, often leaving me friends and wondering off my myself (a bad habit I know) and most of the time I end up talking to Germans at the bar the same as I do/did in English bars. My wife and I have visited quite a few German attractions and have found the hospitality second to none. It is one of my only regrets that whilst posted in Germany we did not visit Auschwitz.

Image of the selection process at Birkenau - An important spectacle to remember on Holocaust Memorial Day

This is the time that detainees are sorted to go to either the labour camps or the gas chamber. Taken from it is evidence of a true atrocity

Tommy by Rudyard Kipling

Death Poem

Even today this poem rings true. As a squaddie I was often ostracised for being such but when needed things always changed.

I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ;
But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;
But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “
But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!