DETROIT – The Local 4 Defenders are digging into the decisions made by police officers to use a Taser or lethal force. Former officers are weighing in.
In Minnesota, a police officer said she thought she was about to use her Taser on a man when she shot and killed him with her gun.
In Ohio, a 16-year-old with a knife was shot and killed. Some are asking if a Taser could have been used in that case.
Retired Detroit police assistant chief Steve Dolunt had this to say about the case of the Minnesota officer, Kim Potter, fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
“She made a huge mistake. Fatal mistake. She yelled Taser to let them know she was going to Tase you. She grabbed the weapon,” Dolunt said.
Dolunt spent more than 30 years policing Detroit’s streets. This is the first time he’s heard of an officer mistaking a handgun for a Taser.
“How long she been on the street? How often she deployed a Taser? Last time she trained with a Taser?” Dolunt said. “She wanted the Taser, he started to resist, then she went the wrong way.
In the case of the Ohio shooting. Body camera video showed that the 16-year-old girl appeared to be about to stab another girl. Former Detroit police chief Ike McKinnon weighed in on that case.
He said the Columbus, Ohio officer fired four times and could have hit other people who were nearby. He said the Columbus case is one of the toughest calls he’s seen. There was likely no time for a Taser.
“We weren’t there. We do not know what was going on in the officer’s mind. All we know is that, saw a knife and he’s wanting to save the person that she is trying to stab. It is damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
McKinnon said he was shot three times on the job and stabbed twice. He’s felt the danger of trying to take a suspect down first before making the call to use lethal force.
READ: More Defenders coverage