Once again we’re in a position to play armchair quarterback. And once again we have to remember the limitations that come along with playing that position, mainly, seeing footage of an incident is no substitution for actually being there and experiencing it.
What you’ll see in the video above is graphic. So WARNING, content may be inappropriate for some viewers!
Dallas police arrive at the home of Shirley Harrison on June 14, 2014. Once again, her son, Jason, is struggling with his mental illness.
Shirley explains to the officers, “He’s off the chain,” she tells them as the officer stand at the door. “Bipolar, schizo,” she adds, appearing exasperated.
Jason stands in the doorway holding a screwdriver. Noticing that he has a sharp implement in his hand the officers instruct Jason to let it go.
“Will you drop that for me?” Officer Andrew Hutchins, the officer wearing the camera says. His partner, Officer John Rogers echoes the instruction.
“Yeah, drop that for me,” Rogers says. Hutchins begins to raise his voice, repeating the instruction.
Jason fails to comply and appears to move toward the officer. Shots are fired. Harrison drops to the ground, his face against the garage door.
The officers repeat the command with Jason on the ground.
“Drop it! Drop it! Put it down.”
“Drop it, guy! ” the officer continues. “Put the damn thing down. Put the screwdriver down. Put the screwdriver down.”
Jason would not survive the shooting. As for the officers Rogers and Hutchins, their fate still hangs in the balance. Both were placed on administrative leave for five days. DPD Chief David Brown believes the shooting was justified but the District Attorney’s Office has not yet decided whether to turn the case over to a grand jury.
Meanwhile, Jason’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city. According to their attorney Geoff Henley, the family believes the officers were too quick to pull the trigger.
“I just don’t want to believe it’s acceptable in Dallas, Texas, that’s how we treat mentally ill people in this town,” Harrison’s brother David said in a press conference Monday.
Well, to ask the obvious question, do you believe the shooting was justified or do you believe the officers overreacted?
Again, we’re playing armchair quarterback. From my perspective, I’d like to believe there may have been a non-lethal or less-lethal means to disarm Jason. Perhaps by brute force or by a taser. But like most of these encounters, they happen so fast that it’s very difficult to second guess the officers’ reaction. It went from calm conversation, “Will you drop that for me,” to deadly shooting in a matter of about six seconds. That’s fast. Real fast.
Real life is messy. And complicated. I’m not sure on this one. I think I need some more time to think.
I guess the best thing to do would be to ask yourself, under the circumstances, how are you trained to respond against an armed man approaching you in what appears to be a sudden manner?
Where do you come out on this?