Should we expect the police to show courage?

I am opening this thread in GD, but came very close to putting in the Pit instead (where I might have entitled it ‘A Fucking Execution’).

When I ask if we should expect the police to show courage, I am referring to an incident that occurred in my city, Toronto, several days ago. Specifically, while brandishing a 3-inch knife, alone in a streetcar (a trolley car), an 18-year-old boy was shot (at) nine times and then, for good measure, Tasered. You can watch it here and find out a bit more here. The kid died before he got to the hospital.

Am I naive in wondering, if not expecting, that eight physically fit police officers, all wearing bullet-proof vests might have tried to disarm him? Or, failing that, have one of them approach him and try to “talk him down”? Or, is it unjustifiable to ask another young man (or woman) to risk his life in that way?

In my opinion, whether I am naive or not, the police at that scene were not only not brave, they were cowards.

ETA: Note that this 110 pound kid was Tasered after he was shot (88 sec mark on video)

I have had very similar thoughts, most recently when a local mentally disabled young man wielding a knife was shot do death by a pack of police officers.

My thoughts were similar to yours; the actual courageous thing to do would be to physically incapacitate him.

However, as has been mentioned in several other threads regarding police, the going mantra now is “Whatever it takes to go home” or some such. More important to avoid getting cut than to try to actually save somebody’s life.

Thanks for that. Yes, the Toronto Police have a long history of shooting the mentally ill.

I will use this opportunity to emphasize that the kid was a toothpick - 110 pounds.

Courage had nothing to do with this case. Eight policemen can keep a lone suspect armed with a knife at bay for a long time without having to take any action. Like so many other shootings where justification is place ahead of necessity, they shot him because they could.

Risking a police officer’s life makes little sense.

I want to see one of you take a knife away from somebody.
A gun, maybe. But a knife? Seems pretty unlikely to me.

It’s unreasonable to expect the police to try and tackle and disarm someone, but that doesn’t mean that using their pistols is the only alternative. The Taser is normally used before shooting, not after, and as TriPolar noted, time wasn’t a factor here. Shooting was an option they always had in the back pocket, if Tasering, gas, rubber bullets, a rush with riot shields, anything like that, were to fail.

Oh, hadn’t you heard? They risk their lives every day.

There’s also beanbag rounds for shotguns. Here’s a story in which American police used them to disarm a man holding a firearm.

There are two questions here: one, should police officers be forced to physically disarm knife-wielders? Of course not. I don’t expect civil servants making $30,000 a year (or whatever you pay them in Canada) to physically engage people brandishing deadly weapons. Their job is dangerous enough as it is.

The second question is whether they needed to shoot this guy. Seems like it might be a good idea to try Tasering him first, then shoot him if necessary. Just saying.

ETA: More or less what Human Action said.

Isn’t that, like, exactly and specifically what we pay them for?!

If they’re not there to put themselves in harms way to serve and protect the rest of us… why are they there? Serious question; I want to know.

I stand to be corrected, but I don’t believe all or even most Toronto police cruisers have Tasers. The cops must wait for a supervisor to arrive on scene - he/she has the Taser.

I honestly thought you were leading up to “Can you believe a heroic civilian had to do that? A cop on the scene lacked the courage to get the job done.”

IMHO, shooting that 18-year-old is more admirable than grappling for the knife – and also more admirable than calling him a boy.

Where I’m from, 18 years-old is a boy. Did you watch the video? Admirable?

Then the obvious question is, in this scenario, when would it become necessray to shoot the guy?

Unless he charges at one of the cops, then the answer is…it’s not.

Withdraw from the car. Wait. Call a negotiator. Wait for him to fall asleep. Hell, you can gas the bus.

Ok, I just re-read the article and WTF?? The cops weren’t even IN the car. They shot him when he…um…moved.

This really isn’t a courage issue because you and I would probably take one look at the guy with the knife and get the hell out of there. It’s a question of how the police are trained. Are they being trained to do everything they can to avoid deadly force, use it as only a very last resort, and be sure they’ve exhausted every option before anyone might get killed? I don’t think the cops were obliged to charge the guy rather than shooting him because they had him outnumbered, but if they couldn’t talk him into putting the knife down, the Taser seems like it probably would’ve done the job. And if you haven’t read the article, it sounds like the police and the kid with the knife were the only people on the car - so there was no risk to other civilians.

Shooting people is not the police’s job.

That is made clear in the video. There was no threat. To nobody - not to a civilian or a cop.

I disagree about your ‘courage’ comment. I hope(d) one of the cops would exercise initiative and courage.

That’s a policy worth re-thinking then. Issuing Tasers means they inevitably will be used excessively, but it also means that people like the young man in this case will more often end up Tased than shot. A net benefit.

Another option would be shotguns with beanbag rounds in every patrol car. There need to be options between grappling with an armed suspect and shooting him.

Where I’m from, they vote and get tried as adults and hold down jobs; some serve in the armed forces, some become police officers. As for where you’re from, the video you linked to is labeled “Toronto police shoot man on street car.” Seems accurate.

Yes and yes. they keep telling him to Drop The Knife; he keeps not doing it; if a grown man is that bad at figuring out the right thing to do with a lethal weapon when cops keep making it clear, he needs to be put down swiftly and efficiently.

No, nobody should have to risk their lives to disarm someone. The guy should have put the knife down.

I watched the video and have to wonder why it required what appeared to be a dozen police, guns drawn, to cover that bus door. That many people with their guns out is asking for trouble. After the shots were fired, the crowd of armed police certainly disappeared quickly for some reason.