Not Firing at Double-Murderer Yelling ‘Shoot Me’ While Charging: Right Call?

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Think about the situation that Jesse Kidder found himself in last Friday. He’s basically a rookie cop, with only a year on the job. He is the first to arrive at a scene in which a double-murder suspect “could have a gun under the seat and may be threatening suicide-by-cop,” according to dispatchers.

When Kidder, a former Marine and an Iraq War veteran with a Purple Heart, exits the car and begins to confront the suspect the suspect not only refuses to comply with Kidder’s instructions to “Get your hand up right now,” but the suspect, identified as 27-year-old Michael Wilcox, begins to charge Kidder with his hands in his pockets while yelling, “Shoot me.”

However, Kidder shows extreme self-control and refuses to comply with Wilcox’s request.

Michael Wilcox.  (Photo: WLWT)

Michael Wilcox. (Photo: WLWT)

“I was trying to open a dialogue with him. ‘I don’t want to shoot you, get on the ground,’ but he wasn’t having it. He kept repeating, ‘Shoot me.’ At one point, he said ‘Shoot me or I’ll shoot you,'” Kidder told WLWT.

While Kidder waits for his backup to arrive, he is forced with a very difficult decision. To shoot or not to shoot Wilcox, who later confessed to killing his fiancee and is suspected of murdering another person.

But then, the situation worsens. Kidder falls to the ground while backpedaling away from Wilcox.

“He got towards my face right as I lost balance,” Kidder told WLWT. “I’m thinking at this point that if he goes into attack me, that I’ll have to use deadly force to defend myself.”

However, instead of attacking, Wilcox stops charging and stands down. Kidder regains his footing and begins to order Wilcox to the ground. Perhaps realizing that Kidder will not oblige Wilcox’s death wish unless the situation gets physical, Wilcox begins to follow Kidder’s directives.

“Law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split-second decisions that mean life or death. I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force,” explained Kidder on his decision to withhold fire.

Following the confrontation, Wilcox was arrested. He is being held in Brown County Jail on $2 million bond.

As for Kidder, his superiors commended him for his decision-making under extreme duress.

“For him to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity,” New Richmond, Ohio, Police Chief Randy Harvey told WLWT. “This video footage, it eliminated all doubt that this officer would have been justified if in fact it came to a shooting.”

In a climate where the media is champing at the bit to broadcast stories where police officers and gun owners are arguably too quick to pull the trigger, it’s refreshing to see a story where an individual exercises discretion before firing.

But then again, one could argue that Kidder put his life in unnecessary danger by not shooting Wilcox. With hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to say that Kidder made the right call because everything turned out all right. Yet, what if Wilcox had a gun and what if his threats to shoot Kidder weren’t empty? What would have happened if Wilcox would have jumped on Kidder as he fell to the ground?

There are a lot of questions and it’s easy for us, those who weren’t there, to play armchair quarterback. But I wonder if Kidder, in the back of his mind and after watching the video (assuming he has), questions his call not to shoot Wilcox when he began charging. I wonder if he thinks about the many “What ifs” that the situation raised.

What are your thoughts?  How do you imagine you would have responded?


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{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Cleatus May 6, 2015, 2:49 pm

    This video easily “could” have been very different. Hesitation is dangerous. It kills officers. Good judgement is needed. This videos should not represent proper policing. I agree with many comments that this was all chance.

  • Damon April 28, 2015, 11:34 am

    Man . . . Glad I’m not a cop. Watching the video, there were at least three times that I would have killed that guy. Especially from my back on the street.

  • jrw40113 April 28, 2015, 1:20 am

    As a retired officer with 33 years on the job and based on the information provided I would have shot him. But that is me. Ofc Kidder made his choice based on the situation as he lived it. I neither condemn nor condone his choice. He was lucky.

  • Dave Brown April 27, 2015, 10:17 pm

    Shoot or not to shoot that is the question. And, of course you have to take whatever we all say after the fact with a grain of salt. I have been wondering how our Police are being trained today, and what is different then say 45 years ago in their training (Yes I get the social difference as I have lived it in the trenches, not just in the news). I don’t know what legal rights an officer has to shoot, but I will say this guy stood his ground in a wonderful way, yes stood his ground by back pedaling, and even on his butt his pistol was ready. Would it have been to late to save his life, I doubt it, but other then a vital area hit the shoots would not have made a huge difference then. I guess he could have just shot the guy, but why? My self, just me, I say I would have to wait until he is either swinging on me as in starting the swing for his shot at me, or he is so close and so threatening that it might be to late for me, or maybe not, at least this officer knows now the outcome of his actions. That is what I believe we need for Police training today. If you can’t deal with that, don’t be a Cop, simple as that. Asking to much, I think not of a few, and those few will be enough. Get rid of the ones that should not be Coping in the first place, shooting to quick is not something I could be proud of. Being a Great Cop, Easy to say, I think not of the Few, hard to do, Yes. This man can have my back any day. Enough Said.

  • Former GI Joe April 27, 2015, 5:45 pm

    Right call? Not just no but HELL no! What other cop will ever trust this rookie to have his back? This guy is very likely a really nice guy; a guy you’d like to have a beer and conversation with. But, if he was MY partner, I’d go home sick rather than put my life in his hands. Maybe he could ride a desk, but he absolutely does NOT belong in the field.

  • William Fuller April 27, 2015, 3:35 pm

    Now we have a million dollar trial for a confessed murderer.
    Should have saved the time and money.

  • petru sova April 27, 2015, 1:23 pm

    He held his fire because he has seen too much death and destruction in his life and he was definitely not a coward or sadist. Yes he could have guessed wrong and then it would have come down to who fired first. Since he already had his gun drawn the advantaged lay with him not the fellow who would have had to draw and fire and he realized this. He also guessed the fellow wanted him to kill him whether he really had a weapon or not. All in all he was a big cut above many other cops out there, to bad we don’t have more hero’s like him.

    • jrw40113 April 28, 2015, 1:26 am

      I suggest you do some reading from Force Science Institute about reaction times during shootings before you talk about Ofc Kidder having the advantage because he had his gun out. I think the results may surprise you.

  • Good Guy April 27, 2015, 10:53 am

    The guy stopped charging because there were two other cops approaching behind the cop who tripped. As soon as the bad-guy laid down another cop was right there cuffing him. I don’t think the bad-guy would have stopped if the other two cops were not present. That young cop is lucky to be alive in my option.

    So, this guy kills two, threatens a cop, then charges him? And we want to pay to house this guy in prison for 40 years? I’m not quick to take a life, and I pray I never have to, but this was beyond justifiable.

    I work my ass off for what I have and I don’t want to waste any of it on this guy – there’s too many of them in prison already getting PhD’s at my expense while I can’t even get my daughter through college. The price of a 9mm round is all this guy deserves. Hell they’re cheap, give him two or three. I’ll work an extra half-hour to make up for it – it’ll be worth it.

  • Roger April 27, 2015, 8:50 am

    What’s wrong with a non-lethal shot? Are cops actually told to only shoot to kill? A leg shot would have ended this.

    • L Cavendish April 27, 2015, 9:47 am

      And a hit to the femoral? Bleed out in 30 seconds or so…
      Glad you are a perfect shot at a moving target in a highly stressful situation that could be your last if he gets to your gun.
      Worked out this time…next guy may not stop…grab the cops gun…kill the cop and then maybe kill a few bystanders.

  • Art Ryden April 27, 2015, 8:40 am

    How many law enforcement officers have died, and will die, showing that kind of restraint/reluctance/hesitancy? I say take him down and if the bleeding hearts don’t like it, let them try to arrest the next murder suspect.

  • michael mann April 27, 2015, 5:55 am

    If I was a policeman and was aware that he had just killed several people and person refused to follow commands with hands in pocket charging me I would of saved taxpayers a lot of money for trial and prison cost.

    • joe April 27, 2015, 8:30 am

      Judge, Jury, and Executioner. I guess we’ll all just be thankful you’re not a cop, Mr. Dredd.

      • Greg April 27, 2015, 9:38 am

        Joe….Put your son or daughter in this officers shoes. What would you want them to do?

  • j April 27, 2015, 4:08 am

    As a former officer I feel like this kind of hesitancy will eventually catch up to this young man. It was clear case of a justifiable shoot, as far as I am concerned. In my day, (it’s seems long ago now), he would have been toast. If he had continued into the officer and obtained his firearm there would be another funeral for a widow to attend.

    • Sarge312 April 27, 2015, 7:08 am

      I also am a former officer with 30 years on the force. I stand with your comment!

    • Sarge312 April 27, 2015, 7:12 am

      But I DO thank the young officer for his service to America, God Bless our Military!

    • Steve April 27, 2015, 7:38 am

      Been a cop since 1981, and I’m watching the downfall of our society on a daily basis. If you are black you get free rein to do whatever you want because we all are racists, and crime is supposed to pay, right? I was cringing watching this video, if the officer shot the white guy, no big deal. This action and the comments of those who constantly criticize LEOs, will get more cops killed. A cop tells you to stop and/or surrender, you do it! I have yet to see, a man not resisting get shot. I’m glad I’m done in 2 years. Thanks to Obama this country is screwed!

  • AK April 24, 2015, 7:58 am

    Why didn’t he just take him down without the pistol? I mean as a marine he should have been able too. I guess they don’t make them like they used to….

    • Lyring Bastard April 27, 2015, 4:14 am

      Distance perhaps? I didn’t know having rubber arms was a requirement to be a marine…

    • L Cavendish April 27, 2015, 9:51 am

      And what if “being a marine” was not enough? He did trip and fall…suspect could have jumped on him…maybe gotten the gun…killed the officer…maybe himself…maybe decided he needed to kill a few more people.
      Worked out OK this time…might not next time… .
      And maybe officer reacts differently next time. Each encounter is different.

      • tom moore May 4, 2015, 1:02 pm

        Does anybody think that the officer might have been worried that this could have turned into Michael Brown issue.

    • Former Marine April 27, 2015, 10:02 am

      AK, I find your comment distasteful & offensive.
      While I respect your right to have it I hope you can respect mine to disagree.
      I am also a former Marine, combat veteran & cop. I have been in several situations in where I could’ve pulled the trigger, legally, but I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do at the time. I was confident in my training & experience & resolved the situations. Sadly at another time it was the only was to accomplish the mission.
      Sure, later I’ve Monday morning quarter backed myself. Some I found out later on we’re disgusting scumbags & maybe I should have. But at the time I knew it wasn’t right.
      People seem to forget taking a human life, even a bad one, is a very serious thing. Regardless of who said life may belong too. Sure we’ve all heard the joke about how the only thing you feel is the recoil (some add trigger pull as well) but anyone who actually believe are fools.
      My job in the Corps was to locate, close with & destroy the enemy by fire an maneuver, & to repel enemy assault by fire & close combat.
      As a Police Officer my job is to preserve life & protect property.
      Nuff said.

      • Al Z April 27, 2015, 1:52 pm

        I agree completely with my fellow Marine’s words and perspective above.
        I’m also a combat Marine Veteran and during Concealed Carry class became acutely aware of the stark difference between combat and domestic police operations.
        I would make a very poor police office because my combat training leads me to “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”
        This article’s subject Marine deserves all of our respect for several reasons: he served in combat, continues to serve in combat (as evidenced by this episode) and continues to heed his Marine morality training: “Don’t kill ‘nothin that don’t need killing.”

      • dink winkerson April 28, 2015, 12:40 pm

        Not sure what type of service he was involved in, for instance, did he ever have to take a human life? In my mind it kinda begs the question, was he scared to pull the trigger. Not an accusation, just a curiosity.

  • Slim April 22, 2015, 8:25 pm

    Good job Marine!!! Semper Fi!!

  • Michael Chero April 22, 2015, 10:04 am

    You could easily shoot him. He’s white. No one gives a damn if you shoot a white person anymore. Hell, the Black community will cheer you for it. BUT, if you shoot a black man after he just murdered a school room full of kids and you’ll be lambasted for it.

    • Marine 1978 April 28, 2015, 6:00 pm

      You’re an idiot. Someone should shoot you for making stupid comments.

    • Marine 1978 April 28, 2015, 6:02 pm

      You’re an idiot. Someone should shoot you for making stupid comments.

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