It’s been a tough couple of weeks for LEOs at TTAG. We’ve had ongoing discussions about police officers and how they’re perceived by civvies in general and gun owners in particular. From our wildly unscientific sampling, it seems safe to say they’re viewed by most of the Armed Intelligentsia with suspicion at best. But a couple of recent shooting incidents go a long way toward illustrating how hard it can be when a peace officer’s faced with someone with a gun in a shoot/no shoot situation . . .
Example 1: Henry Lee of Seattle. Lee was a 77-year-old with dementia. And he also owned a firearm.
[Lee was] alarmed by a fire department aid call outside his home, messaged his medical alert service to say he suspected a prowler and has armed himself with a gun. When police arrived, he met them at the door with the gun and was killed by officers who [felt] threatened.
Lee’s family has said he had dementia and lived alone. But police had no medical information about Lee when they responded to the 911 call placed through his medical alert service.
Lee said he thought there was a prowler outside his home and had a gun, “and that if anyone tried to come into his home, he would kill them,” Metz said.
Did Lee’s family know the septuagenarian – with diminished capacity – owned a firearm? No way to know based on the media stories. But if they did, it might be hard dealing with the guilt they’d be feeling right now on top of the loss of a loved one.
Example 2: Delma Towler of Altavista, Virginia. Towler was awoken by her dog and dialed 911 to report a burglary. It was later determined that her purse and money were gone, so it’s likely someone had broken into her home.
Towler got her gun — which she had never fired — from her nightstand and fired in the air from her bedroom as a warning, Clark said. Bullet holes can be seen in the ceiling, she added.
From there, [her daughter] believes her mother tried to go two houses down to her sister, Margaret Davis.
On the way, Towler might have seen the burglar through her back door and fired again, Clark said. Shattered glass from the back door of the home lay in the yard Thursday.
She was shot and killed by Altavista police in her back yard.
Towler may not have been aware of the two police officers dispatched to her home, Clark continued, as her hearing aid and glasses were found in her home.
Media reports are notoriously inaccurate, incomplete and frequently sycophantic. So based on the linked articles, there’s no way to know the extent to which the cops in these incidents tried to dial the situations down before opening fire. So saying news reports can be unreliable is like saying a Vermonster can be fattening. But faced with someone pointing a gun at you or apparently shooting wildly, would you have reacted differently? Think you’d have done better?