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Stop knee-jerk cop hate: Seattle police actions seem defensible in Gas Works shooting

KIRO Radio's Dori Monson says there is a knee-jerk hatred of cops in our region and he thinks we shouldn't just assume cops are in the wrong. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)

Taken from Wednesday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

There is a knee-jerk hatred of the Seattle Police Department among too many residents of this area. This was illustrated Wednesday by comments in stories regarding Seattle police officers fatally shooting a man in Gas Works Park.

Just a couple of nights ago, there was horrible vandalism all over Gas Works, so there were stepped up police patrols in the area. The vandals did more than $8,000 worth of damage. They’ve got to protect city property, protect the taxpayers.

According to the Seattle Police Blotter:

“Officers were patrolling Gas Works Park in the 2100 block of N. Northlake Way at about 2:45 this morning when a security guard approached them and said a transient male had attacked him in the park.”

According to the blotter account, the suspect attacked when the security guard told him to put out a small fire he had burning. A Crisis Intervention Team officer was called to the scene. That was when Seattle police say the suspect broke a glass bottle and brandished it at officers.

Seattle Police spokesman Nick Metz says the officers fired Tasers at the man, but it did not stop him.

“One of the officers fired his Taser at the suspect. For whatever reason, it did not have an impact. A second officer fired his Taser, and that Taser also did not have an impact on the suspect.”

I have no idea if this is the case, but I have to wonder if there were other substances at play. PCP is a drug where Tasers often have very little effect, and the person using the drug has super-human strength.

In this incident, they tried Tasing the guy. They tried the non-lethal options and the guy continued to advance on the officers.

“The suspect still was advancing on one of the officers with a broken bottle,” said Metz. “One of the officers who had tried Tasing earlier and another officer who did not have a Taser with him, both fired on the suspect as he was advancing on a third officer.”

Here is the most important point. The guy with the broken bottle in his hand was so close to the officers that this is what happened when they shot him:

“That third officer was backing up at the time, may have tripped or something like that, fell down and actually as the suspect was approaching after he had been shot actually fell on top of the officer,” said Metz.

He was close enough to fall on top of the officer. You’ve no doubt heard of the danger of a man with a knife within an 18-foot radius. It is an imminent danger. This is the same thing. A guy with a broken bottle advancing on cops who is apparently under the influence of some substance that makes the Tasers ineffective against him. What are the cops supposed to do?

I was looking at The Seattle Times story about this. Let me just read to you some of the comments:

Iron Lung writes: At which point did the 4 officers feel they were threatened to the point where they needed to kill the guy? Broken bottle or not they need to show some restraint…or maybe shoot the guy in the kneecap?

IArustic writes: This was a minor trespassing violation until they forced it into gunfire and death.
A man with a broken bottle is only a deadly threat

Aff writes: Seattle cops — natural born killers.

Robert the Bruce writes: A man with a broken bottle is only a “deadly threat” if the police refuse to back up. Killing someone or using deadly force is only justified if there is no other alternative. Killing someone just because the officer’s ego won’t let him retreat is a sorry excuse and unacceptable.

If you listen to my show, you know I call out bad cops and I call out cops who act badly, but in this case, what are the cops supposed to do? A guy breaks a bottle and is advancing on the cops.

Why are none of the people putting the responsibility on the drunk guy building a fire in Gas Works advancing on cops with a deadly weapon? Do none of them think that that guy is accountable and responsible for his ultimate fate?

We have such a pervasive, knee-jerk, anti-cop hatred around here that it always devolves into blame the cops even when they’re in the right. This is a case where the cops action seems to be – if it is as described – entirely defensible.

People should evaluate each story on its individual merits. If the cops act poorly, call them out. If the cops do what they have to do to make sure they go home to see their family at the end of shift, support them. But there are too many people in this region who want to just rip police officers every chance they get.

Taken from Wednesday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.


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