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”.

Outcome

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.

Outcome

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.

Conclusion

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.

Living with PTSD

Personal

Contents (this is a long page)

 

PTSD Post Introduction

After having PTSD for around 4 years now I thought I’d share with you what life is like as a PTSD sufferer. I consider myself to have a mild case of PTSD and I’m aware of many more people that have the condition much worse than I.

My PTSD thought process

An example

The other day I was having a discussion on Twitter which involved my usual extremist ways of dealing with people that break the law. The tweet that set my brain in a descending spiral of anger had mentioned that if I had my way the Army would have been brought in for the London riots of 2011. This set off a trigger that made my brain go down a similar route to previous episodes.

I start to think that some people (in this case the rioters) are very ungrateful of the sacrifices that I and others have made. Had it not been for people like me willing to risk our very lives being completely obliterated leaving those that we love totally mortified, they would not be able to enjoy the freedom they take great pleasure in flouting.

This increases my anger

I then start to think about the things that I and people like me have done in order to ensure that these morons retain their freedom (by this point they are the lowest form of scum on the planet and my mind is stuck in a downward spiral).

This gives my brain a chance to feel sorry for itself

The Favoured Incident

The time in history my brain usually decides to bring to the front and push in front of my eyes; nose; ears (& parts of my body that technically do not have senses) is a specific job when I was a member of the Bomb Disposal Team on my third tour of Iraq.The job involved going to suicide bomber that had already decided to share his hatred for the world with others. Whilst they were a few lifeless bodies laying on the floor, they were nothing that we didn’t see day in; day out.

After a short time on operational tour you forget that these lifeless bodies that you see in front of you are actually someone’s Son; Daughter; Mother; Father; Brother; Sister; Wife or Husband. Instead you see what is logical with the emotions stripped from the situation: you see an empty shell/corpes.

The reason that this job stands out is the sensory overload that was actually left after the operation had finished. Although at the time it was something that shocked me in many different ways, it was something that was quickly put to the back of my mind as we moved on with the various jobs that we received.

A picture of a bombed car could be a trigger for PTSD

This is the sort of thing that we had several times a day (click to see full size image)

The Onset of PTSD and Depression

I went on to finish my fantastic career in the Army and left to start a business dedicated to providing a courier service to the members of the Armed Forces and their Families based outside the United Kingdom.

After a year or so my business failed which co-coincided with the re-occurrence of two recurring injuries I picked up in my time in the Army. The fact that my business had failed and I had nothing to occupy my time meant that for the first time in a long time my mind had a chance to relax. As it turned out this happened to be a negative outcome. My mind was now relaxed and I was starting to suffer from depression from the failure of my business and the loss of my only means of income.

It soon became apparent that my mind was suffering more than it was telling me. I would avoid having a shower for a week at a time as when I got in there the feel of the water running down my face caused flashbacks of another bad job that we had (on the same tour) when we had to wash the blood and dirt from our faces. Even the thought of a shower and the flashbacks would fill me with dread. This meant that my depression got worse which in turn led to my physical conditions getting worse and so started the downward spiral.

Image showing the downward spiral of pain and depression

The well known downward spiral of pain and depression

Luckily my fantastic GP and the support team around him quickly diagnosed that I was suffering from PTSD and gave me the tools to cope with it. I would like to say that they have cured me of it but I don’t think the condition will ever leave me and I believe it is now about managing with it as best I can.

A good friend of mine Bill Waters also pointed out that

Drinking is not frowned upon as much as it is in civvy street so we are able to use it as an emotional crutch under the guise of work hard play hard. I think a lot of service men and women will suffer when they leave the service because that life style/comeraderie can not be replicated in civilian life and I believe that that in itself could be a trigger.”

How PTSD affected me – Self harming

In me it wasn’t evident straight away what was wrong with me. Obviously not showering and flashbacks were a good indicator but the general depression brought on my PTSD also led to a lack of patience and with a new son this was not a good thing.

Things came to a head when I had been self harming for a few weeks. By this point It looked like I’d been having an affair with Cat Woman (incidentally one of my Wife’s nicknames). In order to cope with one of my toddler’s tantrums I had to leave the room and drew every fingernail on my right hand from my left shoulder all the way down in one diagonal stroke to the right side of my stomach as hard as I could. Although it drew blood and hurt it wasn’t enough and so I filled my hands with hand sanitizer and spread it all over my torso – now that hurt. This was the first of the self-harming incidents that was visible to my Wife and she then became very worried (even more than she already was). I have to say that my son never saw me self-harm although he witnessed the outcome of the above incident.

The outcome of my self-harming was a calm feeling and a massive release of tension in my body. I am unable to explain it but when things got bad I just wanted to hurt myself and when I did I felt much better; as if a great big weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

The above incident was the final straw for me and the sheer thought that there was a possibility that my son may witness such an incident or start noticing the results meant that I had to seek professional help.

How I reversed the downward spiral

Again – thanks to the brilliant help my Barnsley Primary Care Trust /NHS and after seeing several different people I was given access to the back to fitness program. This gave me a 6 month gym membership for free to do anything I wanted in the local leisure centre. As a former swimmer and given the chronic back pain that I had I decided to concentrate on just swimming. I went most mornings and I saw the benefits almost straight away. I had to use a walking stick to walk with less frequency and after a few months I was actually able to look for work that would help me get even better.

I began to deliver Betterware and then Avon books. This allowed me to carry on the physical side of the treatment and the very fact that I was once again earning money and contributing to society was a massive Phycological step forward.

There it was, the downward spiral had been reversed. I was exercising again – this gave me a better mood and the fact that I was earning contributed even more. My physical conditions got much better and I no longer had to spend 18 hours a day laid on a floor unable to move.

PTSD Coping Techniques

Grounding

My second (more specialised councillor) taught me about a technique called grounding. I had to decide on an item or aspect of my life that would remind me that I wasn’t surrounded by sandy climates or in danger but was instead back in my home Town of Barnsley and was surrounded by the people I love.

Rowan Evans: Come on Down!

As I was a new Father at the time and I was a house-husband (with not so much emphasis on the house) I chose my lovely baby boy. He would always be there and at the time this was quite literally true. If I went somewhere, so did he and visa versa.

From then on, If I experienced an episode or flashback I could look at him or (if I was away from him) take something out of my pocket that belonged to him and I knew that the grounding strategy was working. This in itself would relax me and as I would always be extracting myself from the cause & go straight home to where I was safe – things would soon get better.

Image of a snow globe with a picture of my son inside it

My fantastic Wife bought me this for this [2013] Christmas to keep on my desk for when my son is not there and in case of a PTSD incident

Music

I find that music is a great help when I’m feeling down and particularly when having a PTSD “episode”. For me it has to be chilled out classical music: usually (unless I’m in a really bad state of affairs) chilled out classical music will calm me right down and make me forget my troubles. To a lesser extent there is music from the lovely voices of Alison Moyet and Adele.

Image of the Pur Classical Chillout CD cover

This CD nearly always calms me down and relaxes me massively

Modern Times

Moving onto more modern times. I still have bad memories and flashbacks. The latter are the worse and are a common occurrence in dreams and they often immerse me in the world I was once in. I see what I saw then; I hear what I heard then; I smell what I smelled then; I feel what I felt then (the sense of trying to anticipate what was going to happen next etc); this is even extended to senses that aren’t well…senses (hard to explain so I won’t try).

There are many days when I actively suffer from PTSD and there are many days (like today) when an incident happens and I know it’s one of my triggers so I do my best to try and keep calm. I am not in a position to carry my son around with me all the time and so I have to try and manage it myself. It is not easy.

Today I walked past to late teens/early twenties males walking down from Town and they each had a bottle of alcohol with them, openly drinking them during the early hours of the afternoon. It may be that they had just finished a shift but more than likely they had spent the money that we pay in taxes to buy booze instead of getting a job. This is a very common trigger for me. It helps if I’m not alone but if I am I find that listening to music through headphones whilst walking provides a decent distraction and gives me something to focus on when I encounter a trigger.

In general the lives of my family has been changed. I can no longer watch any programs that could involve exploding cars or things on fire and if I manage to catch a news report that contains something along these lines my mood changes for the worst for the next few hours at least.

My Wife – My Saviour

My lovely Wife has told me that she knows I dream of these times as she can hear me crying in my sleep. She is also aware of what sort of visual queues set my PTSD off and gives me warnings when I am out of the room. My Wife has stuck with through me all the bad time regardless of how bad I have been or how bad my condition(s) have gotten. Even when I had to spend 18 hours a day lying on the floor unable to earn money she has been the unflinching concrete post that has been supporting me and offering both emotional as well as physical help.

PTSD Facts

  • According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 11%-20% of veterans of Iraq and/or Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD. Read More
  • Interestingly, it also says that only 5% of all men will suffer from PTSD where 10% of all women will suffer from PTSD in their lifetime.
  • According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists PTSD does not have to related to a specific event. It can
    also be triggered by less acute, but equally distressing and longer-lasting traumas, such as ongoing mistreatment, and physical or sexual abuse in the home.”

References