I've very impressed by the posts so far. We've gathered quite a learned and experienced group. And many unanswerable questions have been raised.
Here's an interesting piece from an article that Mike K cited.
Business Insider wrote:
A man hit in the elbow when police fatally shot the Empire State Building gunman is now suing the city, saying police should have received better training.
I suggest that Robert Asika's lawyer will need to offer what that "better training" looks like. Absent that, he may not have a reason to sue other than the simple fact that any individual who fires a gun should be responsible for the destiny of that round.
What "responsibility" entails is the real question. When the reason for firing is that the officers were facing deadly force, well then perhaps the ultimate responsibility lies with the gunman who created the dangerous situation in the first place. So, why then aren't the victims going to sue this gunman who allegedly already had killed an innocent person in cold blood and then put an entire crowd of people at risk by drawing his weapon on a crowd of police officers? I mean that's like swatting a bees' nest with a baseball bat in that crowd and expecting people not to get stung.
The simple answer is Sutton's Law
. The trial attorney's don't care about culpability so much as they pay attention to where the deep pockets are. It's a sad but predictable commentary on United States tort law. Like the very scenario they're litigating over, the guilty don't get all they deserve and innocent bystanders - in this case those with deep pockets - take a hit.
Business Insider wrote:
"We believe that there were too many rounds fired under the circumstances, and perhaps there should be more of an exploration of whether these officers had the proper training," Asika's lawyer Michael Lamonsoff told The Village Voice, adding that his client is still receiving medical attention and might have a neurological impairment now.
While Lamonsoff doesn't deny the officers had a right to defend themselves against Johnson, who reportedly pulled a gun on police but never fired, he does question whether police took things too far.
Lamonsoff can explore all he wants. But here's the reality.
- The alleged murderer pulled a gun and pointed it at a crowd of police officers in front of the New York City Empire State Building during rush hour. What was he thinking???
- Rules of engagement here are clear. The officers were entitled to use deadly force. And it was their responsibility to see to it that this threat to public safety was neutralized as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- There was no time for the officers to vote among themselves over who was to fire and who wasn't. If each fired at least two rounds - and that's the protocol they're taught - and you have a group of police officers who have been challenged, well then it gets down to simple arithmetic.
- All the training in the world may mitigate normal physiologic responses under the circumstances, but it won't completely eliminate it. Given their hit ratio was higher than average, the statistics speak for themselves. A case can be made that their training was effective, and the results were about as good as they could have been -- under the circumstances.
The only argument I can see which could be effective can be uncovered from Van's line of questioning. Did the manner and timing in which police confronted the gunman create a bad situation? Was there a better alternative?
In my opinion, it's going to be difficult to make the case that the safety of the public was better served by allowing an unknown, armed, recent murderer to walk away and into a crowd of people. Remember the context; New York City is the birthplace of 9/11-style terrorist activity. Predictive modeling experts - and I am one - will tell you that the best predictor of the immediate future is the immediate past. Lacking more information, what was the best course of action for the NYPD? And 20/20 hindsight doesn't count. You have minutes to act on a recent murder, and a second at most to respond to deadly force.
At the end of the day, training matters. Was the training correct, and was it properly applied?