This article contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today
CHICAGO, IL- About a month ago, Chicago police shot and killed a man who came after a police sergeant with a butcher knife, which happened after a Taser had been ineffective in bringing the suspect down, the New York Post reported.
Body camera footage released Thursday by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability showed Chicago officers responding to a call at Vittum Park on Sept. 5 on the report of a person who had been stabbed.
The suspect, identified by the Chicago Tribune as Shaon Warner, was located by three officers, two patrol officers and a sergeant.
“Hey, get your hands up,” one officer said to Warner. “My man, put your hands up.”
The sergeant, a female then says:
“Let’s see your hands,” as Warner reached down to pick up a bag as another officer told him not to reach for anything.
“Don’t you dare,” the sergeant says, as Warner continues to ignore commands and starts walking toward her, leading her to shoot him with a Taser.
Warner is briefly stunned and falls to the grass; however, he is only disabled momentarily and then gets to his feet, charging toward the female sergeant with a knife.
“Put the fucking knife down!” an officer shouts at Warner. “Drop the God damn knife! Drop it!”
Warner then grabbed the sergeant, and says “Let me go,” as he stabbed the sergeant at least two times.
The sergeant, who was unidentified was wearing a ballistic vest at the time, however was not seriously hurt. Ballistic vests, despite common belief, do not protect against edged weapons such as knives. She was able to break away briefly, at which time the two other officers opened fire on Warner, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to COPA officials.
The video then has the sound of the sergeant appearing to be breathing heavily, as the other two officers stand over the suspect.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” she tells them. “It didn’t go through! It didn’t go through! He stabbed me in my vest in my stomach.”
The investigation by COPA into the officer’s actions, including the use of deadly physical force, is currently under review, described as the “early stages,” and they will make a determination as to whether officers acted properly and in accordance with department policy, COPA said in a statement.
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Let’s compare and contrast the Chicago shooting with the one which occurred in Philadelphia, where Walter Wallace attacked police officers with a knife, and was also killed, under very similar circumstances. The difference in the Philadelphia case was the officers did not have Tasers, which as we saw in Chicago are not always effective.
Last Monday, Wallace, 27, was shot when police were called to a West Philadelphia neighborhood, Fox News reported. According to his family, he was experiencing a “mental health crisis” at the time.
Philadelphia police authorities said that Wallace was armed with a knife and immediately charged at officers.
Body camera footage showed Wallace coming out of a house with a knife as relatives were shouting at the police about his mental condition, according to Wallace family attorney, Shaka Johnson.
Johnson said, “I understand he had a knife, but that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man, quite frankly. What other than death did you intend when you shoot a man—each officer—seven times apiece?”
Johnson claimed the video showed “instant panic” from the officers, claiming their training “taught them only how to open fire,” and said there were no visible attempts to de-escalate the situation. Because clearly when someone is attacking you with a deadly weapon, you need to “de-escalate” the situation.
“What you will not see is a man with a knife lunging at anyone that would qualify as a reason to assassinate him,” Johnson said.
The video is around 30 to 40 seconds long, Johnson said, and both the footage as well as 911 audio calls are expected to be released to the public next week, according to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and cop-hating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Johnson, who has clearly never received any police training, said, “None of the 14 shots were necessary, but if you were going to shoot, the first shot incapacitated the man. There were 13 shots to follow, which is why he is no longer with us.”
Johnson of course has no idea which shot, in fact, killed Wallace. Johnson also said the distance the officers were to Wallace is about a car-length long.
Police officers are generally trained that anyone armed with an edged weapon within a distance of 21 feet is a direct and immediate threat and deadly force legitimate option. As we saw in France this week, someone armed with a knife can be every bit as dangerous as someone armed with a gun.
Video released from what appears to be a cell phone does show the Philadelphia officers in what appeared to be a tactical retreat, although Wallace continued coming after them with the knife. The shooting starts at 0:26
Philadelphia police officials said they didn’t know if responding officers had any idea about Wallace’s mental health condition. Fox said that officers had responded to the home two other times that day.
Johnson said Wallace’s family is not looking for vengeance against the officers, and said they don’t want the officer(s) to face murder charges. Not that they should, at least if the initial details of the incident are correct.
“And here’s why, here’s why: They were improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job,” Johnson said, the implication being they didn’t have Tasers.
However, as the case in Chicago showed, Tasers do not always work. Also, given the apparent distance between Wallace and the officers when contact was initiated, use of a Taser would likely not have been an appropriate response based on use of force continuum.
The shooting of Wallace meant it was time for early Christmas looting, as the usual group of jackwads took to the streets, looting, shooting, and burning.
In a show of support for their police department and in order to make sure they had the proper tools to protect themselves, the city council voted Thursday night 14-3 to ban the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, and other crowd control tools on protesters due to complaints about police tactics.
Scores of police officers were injured in the riots, with at least one female officer being run over by a truck. But hey, the rioters got their way.
People, especially those who have no training, fail to realize what an edged weapon can do. They do not realize that police ballistic vests are not protection against such a weapon.
We won’t show some of the more graphic wounds inflicted by edged weapons.
Someone who is trained in the use of such a weapon can be on top of an officer and deliver deadly slashing and stab wounds in split seconds. Below are examples of what exactly can happen. The below are re-enactments but show how fast these situations can escalate.
Both incidents addressed above left the officers with no other choice. The only safe countermeasure against an edged weapon aside from deadly force is distance. In the case in Chicago and Philadelphia, it doesn’t appear that was an option.
But Monday morning quarterbacks always seem to have a better idea.