Why Cops Use Deadly Force

Bob Weir Archives, Community, Governance, History, Law, National, New York City, New York State, People, Police Department News, Political Analysis 13 Comments

Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.” Photo by and courtesy of Netsky Rodriguez.

FLOWER MOUND, TX — September 13, 2020 — When I look at the highly publicized violent police incidents, it’s patently obvious why some of them result in death. Whether it’s the George Floyd “I can’t breathe” situation in Minneapolis, the Michael Brown shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri, the choke hold death of Eric Garner in New York City, or numerous other law-enforcement actions, one thing is clear; they all resisted arrest. They might all be alive today if they had simply obeyed the lawful orders of the police. That’s what decent people do when confronted by those who represent the system of laws by which civilized people live. We have many “rights” in this constitutional republic, but one of them is not the right to disobey the law, or those entrusted to enforce it.

During my 20 years as a cop in NYC, violent episodes during arrest situations were probably as common as they are today. The difference is, we didn’t have the Internet, iPhones and social media to broadcast every unsavory moment dealing with civilian-police encounters. Now that everyone has a camera, we have millions of wannabe producers, directors and editors, all of whom have opportunities to become instantly famous by virtue of selected video clips that can distort the “news” as cleverly as the New York Times distorts stories about President Trump. What the Times editors write, is the slant they want you to read. Similarly, what you view on those videos is often the slant the videographer wants you to see.  

Inasmuch as there seems to be no limit to what can be posted on social media, and no penalties for distortions that incite people to riot, we have entered a phase in our history in which the potential for violent insurrection has been placed in the hands of the most malevolent purveyors of hatred for our country and for those who have a natural disdain for authority. Being an active cop for two decades provided me with an education about people that few “civilians” would understand. I learned that people intuitively understand the need for a system of laws, as well as the need for officers entrusted to enforce them. Yet, intuitive, or not, people don’t like getting arrested. During a serious criminal incident involving an apprehension and arrest, the offender often becomes a violent adversary with one goal; do anything necessary to get away. He may be on probation for another crime, meaning a new arrest may result in several years incarceration.

Think about the position of the cop when he stops a man for questioning under circumstances that appear suspicious. The man may be wanted for murder, robbery, rape, or any number of other felonies that would put him in a cell for a long time. With that in mind, he might be desperate enough to use a weapon on the cop to get away. Up to that point, the cop hasn’t determined the potential menace he’s facing, since he’s only doing a preliminary investigation. In this scenario the offender has an advantage on the cop because he knows what he’s going to do if the handcuffs come out. Faced with losing years of his life in prison, the felon is not likely to be taken easily.

The following is often the way the situation unfolds. The cop determines he has enough evidence to effect an arrest and informs the offender of the charges. “Hey man, I didn’t do anything and you’re not taking me!” the guy says. In this instance, the cop has no other options. He’s facing a man who broke the law and it’s his job to bring the guy in, period. He can’t walk away. He can’t tell the guy he’s forgiven. He can’t call his superior and ask for instructions. He must do what he was trained to do, otherwise, turn in the badge and gun.

Okay, now comes the part about getting cuffs on the guy and putting him in the patrol car. Please trust me on this; even with a partner helping you, its very difficult and dangerous to take someone who doesn’t want to go. A 110-pound woman can put up a ferocious battle to keep you from manacling her wrists together and dragging her into the car. Now, imagine a 6’3”, 220-pound, muscular antagonist who defies your lawful order to put his hands behind his back. The moment he refuses, the justice system is being tested. Either we enforce our laws, or we turn the country over to barbarians.

Which brings me to the reason for the title of this column. Cops are just people who go to work at a job and look forward to returning home to their families. They know the work is dangerous, so their adrenal gland is on high alert during physical confrontations. Being human, they may get scared, but they must respond when a crime occurs, and the offender is within their grasp. Deadly force is always the last resort. Still, if they get scared enough, they will do what it takes to ensure that they go home to family that night. Hence, when deadly force is used it’s not because the cop is brutal, it’s because he was trying to do his job against an offender who left him no choice.


Bob WeirWhy Cops Use Deadly Force

Comments 13

  1. To everyone on here stating how easy it is to take someone that is resisting into custody
    If you are between the age of 18 -30 step up the police are hiring with 20 year Ret.
    If you are too old I encourage you to have your children or grand children take the test


    1. Twisting words to fit your narrative is disingenuous. Nobody here condoned the murder of any individual regardless of skin color. Mr. Weir is merely pointing out that the chance of an encounter, resulting in the loss of life, is exponentially greater if illegal resistance occurs and at some point the officer feels threatened. “If you don’t resist, you will persist “…

  3. What you are admitting to Bob is that this has always happened and you were lucky because cellphones were not around. Yes, the guy running away from the cops in Atlanta parking lot and shot in the back was resisting arrest! He committed no crime, they knew his name &address. Texas is a good place for you Bob.

    1. If someone points a taser at an officer they are subject to being shot. Reason being a taser will incapacitate an armed officer and leave him subject to execution and that is not going to happen. Point a taser at an armed officer = bye bye. You get what you deserve.

  4. What a nutcase this guy Bob Weir is, and his columns are nothing but dog whistles for racists, white supremacists and homophobes. I’m really starting to question Aris’s judgement.

    1. Why is it garbage? Perhaps to you its garbage. Many people believe it is correctly expressed. I believe everyone ha the right to give expression to how they view things. If we muzzle Bob Weir, then we would have to muzzle you. Is that your definition of America. Just remember that your perspective is not the only perspective. — Kindly, Hezi

      If you explained how and why it should be regarded as garbage perhaps it would challenge some people to reconsider what I Best practice. Do you have an explanation for that? If so, I would like to learn and understand how it is “garbage”.

  5. they all resisted arrest…this is not a reason to kill…it is a reason to use reasonable non lethal force unless the officer is confronted with a threat of death…..in virtually every situation where a black male is murdered by a white cop…the cop has two or three other officers there with him to assist…In not one of the situations that bob has mentioned has there been the threat of death to any officer….in fact the basis of bobs remarks are that there is a resisting arrest situation…..In every such case the police are taught how to bring a suspect to bear without killing them…”an officer may use deadly force against a person who has committed a felony only if its use is necessary to subdue the arrestee” there must be no other way to make the arrest or subdue the criminal but to use such force” These are the rules the cops MUST FOLLOW…unless the officer reasonable believes his life is threatened he may not use deadly force….IN THE FLOYD CASE THE GARNER CASE MICHAEL BROWN AND THE RECENT KILLING IN KINOSHA WHERE JACOB BLAKE WAS SHOT SEVEN TIMES IN THE BACK….NONE OF THE POLICE INVOLVED COULD REASONABLE STATE THEY WERE IN FEAR OF THEIR LIVES….AND THAT IS THE LEGAL STANDARD THAT MUST BE APPLIED if the cops are too lazy too out of shape or simply don’t want to comply with the law they must face the consequences……Bob is just DEAD WRONG

    1. So if the police officer does not want to “comply with the law, he must face the consequences “? You HAVE to see the irony/double standard in your statement… Unbelievable…

      1. you are unable to critically think..the police officer is supposed to be trained in the nuances of the law…He is a public official who swears an oath….In executing his duties he is held to a high standard otherwise we have a police state…what is it you don’t get?

  6. Bob,If only Your description,hewn from grim experience,could be published in
    EVERY Newspaper in this land,who knows how many Heartaches could be averted.
    Bravo,Bob. Best Regards, Tom & Marie

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