On February 10, 2011, officers of the Cary Police Department’s emergency response team shot and killed a 19-year-old man as he emerged from a bank with a hostage. The ordeal had lasted for three hours, from the moment the man walked into the bank, placed a knit cap over his hand and demanded that an employee call 911, to the hail of bullets that killed him. The man’s motives are unclear, but robbery doesn’t seem to have been on his mind — it appears he never asked the bank employees to turn over any cash.
Even before the smoke cleared, people started asking if the shooting was justified. The victim had put the knit cap over his hand to make everyone think he had a gun, but the truth is that he was unarmed. When he emerged from the bank, though, it was getting dark, and he was holding his simulated gun to the hostage’s head. Then again, he was black, his hostage white.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the details of the hostage situation and the Cary Police Department’s protocols. In order to determine if the shooting was justified, the agency must answer two questions: Was the shooting required to protect persons in immediate danger, and, if so, was the shooting a reasonable action under the circumstances?
These two criteria are the basis of protocols that help police determine whether to shoot a suspect. The overall policy gives officers a great deal of latitude in emergent situations — they may “stop ongoing threats without waiting for further authority” by shooting. In this case, not just by shooting, but by killing.
To be continued …
Source: Raleigh News Observer, “SBI must parse Cary police policy,” Andrew Kenney, 03/08/11