Sunday, August 26, 2012

First, do no harm...

...the old medical adage might be useful for New York Police to ponder as well:
The man accused of gunning down a former colleague Friday morning near the Empire State Building never fired his gun at police before they shot him dead on a crowded street, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Saturday.

The gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, 58 years old, drew his weapon after being confronted by two officers just outside the landmark building on Fifth Avenue at 34th Street but was shot before he could fire, Mr. Kelly said. The officers fired more than 16 rounds, striking the gunman at least seven times, authorities said.
Police also confirmed Saturday that all nine bystanders wounded in the incident were injured by bullets fired by the police, not Mr. Johnson.

It's easy to "Monday morning quarterback" such events from a safe distance, so normally I abstain.  Yet this case seems particularly disturbing.  Firing 16 rounds in a crowded street situation doesn't seem particularly disciplined.  The argument most likely to be made was the need to down the suspect before he could harm anyone else.  That perspective seems moot when you injure nine times the number of "bad guys" you neutralize.  Whatever happened to "Protect and serve?"

Karl Denninger is correct: this response by "New York's finest" is more akin to military activity than the actions of peace officers.  But then, we don't really seem to distinguish between policing and occupying anymore...

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