I recently read a news article about a Houston officer that shot a man in the head because he was threatening his partner with a pen. It’s a little more complicated than that, but it still raises many questions about the way officers choose to deal with certain situations, even potentially threatening ones. The man in question was confined to a wheelchair and missing one arm and a leg. The officer in question shot him in the head to stop him.
The events surrounding the event are as follows. At 2 a.m., the man started screaming and making a fuss, so the caretaker at the home he was staying in called the police. They arrived and one of the two officers ended up being cornered by the man. He was threatening to kill the officers and waving a “shiny object” about. In response, the cornered officer’s partner shot the man. The object turned out to be a pen, but the officer said he thought it could have been a knife.
Given that the person was in a wheelchair and missing some limbs, guns were probably unnecessary. Police are trained to physically overpower people who are perfectly healthy and it doesn’t seem that this particular individual would have been too difficult to get under control if force was deemed an appropriate response. The police are supposed to be willing to take risks, even if that means taking a knife wound as opposed to killing someone outright. If a person is willing to shoot someone in the head whenever they feel threatened, they should not have a job in law enforcement.
The department involved is saying that people need to wait until the results of an investigation come back before condemning the officer, but it seems obvious to me. If someone can’t handle the stress of their job, they shouldn’t be doing it, especially when that job involves decisions that can end the lives of innocent people. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you should use it. Police need to exercise better judgment when making that decision to take a human life.