Here we had a man who presented an immediate threat to the people inside that building. The SWAT team acted quickly, decisively, and killed the guy with minimal risk to bystanders. It's exactly the kind of thing SWAT teams were intended to, and it's what they excel at.
I'm not anti-SWAT. But confrontational, volatile, dangerous tactics ought to be reserved for confrontational, volatile, dangerous people. Nonviolent offenders don't meet that standard. Rampaging, hostage-taking, murdering gunmen do. |Balko|
Maybe thinking about this case will clarify something about the points I've been arguing here, here, and in comments here.
Part of my discomfort with what I have called the police-defense rationale is that it authorizes force whenever police find themselves facing what appears to be a 'confrontational, volatile, dangerous' person, with no regard for how the situation came to be. To think in terms of the police-defense rationale is to trap oneself into thinking that there is a stark choice to be made between allowing police officers free reign to protect themselves and significantly curtailing their right to act in their own defense. But that just isn't how things are. To the contrary, in many cases where the police-defense rationale is deployed the need for defense arose because the police made a choice to escalate a confrontation.
It is perfectly obvious that there are situations like the one in Chicago, situations where the police are called in to bring a violent situation under control, and where nothing short of deadly force will accomplish that. Moreover, it's clear that we have an interest in having a police force which can bring such situations under control.
It is also obviously true, however, that police frequently escalate confrontations with citizens. I think this habit of escalation is problematic for a lot of reasons, but for right now just focus on the fact that police escalation sometimes results in police using deadly force when it wouldn't otherwise have been necessary. Isn't it just as clear that we have an interest in avoiding situations like that?