Person with gun. What are police supposed to do?

The video of the police officers shooting the 12 year-old who had a pellet gun and had been brandishing it at people made me curious. In the video the cops pull up very near the kid, jump out and begin shooting him.

At first I thought, why wouldn’t they stop a little further back and get behind their car, or the car’s doors, and, with pistols drawn and pointed at the suspect, order him to drop his weapon. I realized that if they did that, the suspect would take off running. And if they pursued him on foot they might quickly be out in the open and the suspect might be taking cover. Not the best situation.

What is the correct procedure when answering such a call? Assuming that what these officers did wasn’t the correct procedure, which maybe it was.

In times past police didn’t shoot unless shot at.
We all take risks in our life, we don’t make our roof in such a way as to protect us from meteorites in any serious way. When we step outside, we could be at risk from meteorites, birds, snakes… I could find a deadly poisonous spider under my house, or another house within 100 metres. I did last year.

Why was this young boy assumed to be such a bad risk to the police officer ?

Why not stop a little bit back, and have a look from a distance… "Kid playing in playground… ur, how about we take this slow ! ".

How about hide behind the vehicle and wait to see what happens.
How about realise that there had been no serious crime reported, and indeed they were looking at a child, which makes it very very unlikely to be a serious risk…
In only the persons who called the police would have stayed at the park and tried to keep the scene safe and sane… Someone to say “that boy isn’t going to hurt anyone, I don’t think its a firearm… but it is the boy who is at risk of getting hurt !”.

From here.

The pistol also lacked the orange tip that identifies it as a toy/fake gun.

I’ve seen Rice’s gun identified as an “air soft” and “BB Gun.” I’m not sure at this point what it was, with the unreliability of the media. An “air soft” gun shoots little plastic BBs…a BB gun shoot metal BBs, and can kill small animals, put out an eye, lodge under the skin, etc. An “air rifle” can shoot a metal BB or pellet at a higher velocity and be quite harmful to animals and people.

Any of those guns wouldn’t have an orange tip to identify it as a fake or toy, because those three types are not toys. They really should’ve been restricted to someone Rice’s age, and I wouldn’t doubt if the city didn’t have an ordinance against shooting them in the municipal limits. Wal-Mart probably wouldn’t have made the sell to someone that age, but an unscrupulous flea market vendor, or older teen probably wouldn’t hesitate. Not too many parents are worried about leaving such a gun within reach of a child, what with the drugs, liquor, real guns, etc. that so many kids have easy access to being more of the obvious concern.

OP: Behind car doors? (Sorry, screwed up quote thingy.)

Well, I’ve seen them do that in movies and on TV but I have no idea if that is a safe way to avoid getting shot. A bullet would likely penetrate an unreinforced car’s door. Are cop cars modified to provide protection or is that just a fictional thing?

I have no idea what the standard protocol for responding to a ‘person with a gun in public’ call is or if there even is a standard protocol. Which is what I was asking.

The 911 caller said that it was a young kid and that it probably was not a genuine pistol, but for some reason, that information didn’t get forwarded to the officers. Also, the cop who fired his weapon is described as a rookie cop. Presumably a more experienced officer wouldn’t have fired his weapon. Still, it seems the tragedy might have been prevented if the officers had gotten the proper information from the dispatchers.

Also, maybe the kid was pulling the pistol out of his waistband to show the officers it wasn’t real, but of course they had no way of knowing that and rightly treated it as if it were a live weapon. A 12 year old isn’t going to have the life experience to know if you are stopped by police you should follow their instructions to the letter. If they tell you to put your hands up and not move, that’s what you should do, since police are trained to watch the hands.

It’s not. Their vest is far better protection for their torso than the door.


I can’t answer the first part. All kinds of things that apparently stop bullets in movies… either can’t or have only a slim chance of doing so.

A bullet fired by a twelve year old is just as deadly as one fired by a thirty year old.
The police officer is not obliged to commit suicide just because the kid is twelve years old.
I lost several friends in Vietnam who were killed by little kids with firearms.
The kid had a gun; he died.

I am sure everyone here has seen lots of kids with objects which look like handguns. Am I the only one here whose general assumption is that the object is a toy?

Well, he was black.

BS. The officer made the right decision, and the kid and the parents dug the grave. The parents are responsible for abandoning the kid in the park (I have no problem with kids playing on their own, but this kid evidently wasn’t mature enough), for not teaching the kid when and where to use a replica gun, for not teaching the kid gun safety, for allowing him to paint over the orange nozzle, and for not teaching him how to interact with cops.

I know when I was twelve I absolutely knew gun safety and to do what the police did. If this kid didn’t then the parents shouldn’t have let him go off and play with fake guns by himself. Accidents happen but blaming the officers ignores the chain of bad decisions that took place before the situation got to where it did. Guns aren’t toys but this kid and his parents sure acted like they are.

This. For better or worse, toy guns are extremely common.

I appreciate that there is a risk whenever police are callled to an incident. The o0object of the police operating procedure should be to minimise that risk, not only for the officers but for the people in the vicinity, including the person whose activities are the subject of the call.

That can be a tough balance. But the procedure has to be based on a realistic assessment of the risk, and the reality is that most kids with things that look like guns are carrying toys. The SOP should not be to presume the gun is real and proceed accordingly. Police officers volunteer for a risky job and are paid for it, and I cannot see an argument that the gun might be real ought to be transferred from police officers to twelve-year old boys who are, in all likelihood, carrying toys.

I have seen cops shield themselves behind an opened squad car door. I was under the impression that the doors are armored in some way.

That cop shot the kid between 1.5 and 2.0 seconds after arriving at the scene. (There’s a video of it.) It is suggested that he didn’t even take a moment to assess the situation.

Pull a realistic fake gun on a cop and see what happens to you. I don’t care what your ethnic/racial background is. Please do this for science.

Sadly, I am no longer aged 12.

At no point did I say the shooting wasn’t justified. I agree the officer had no choice. I thought that was clear enough.

Airsoft guns sold in the US would have an orange tip, but many people remove or color over them. Some of the Airsoft guns are far more realistic than the old BB gun pistols, both in size and in action. It would be very difficult to determine that an Airsoft pistol was a toy from a distance. Sometimes it is not obvious even when you are holding it.

There is cover, and then there is concealment. You should know the difference, but if you can’t get to cover, concealment isn’t a bad thing.