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by Peter Moskos

February 10, 2016

RIP Derek Geer and Jason Goodding

Does all the talk about cops being too quick to shoot people "for no reason" have an effect? (A "Ferguson Effect"?) I don't know. But it might have been in the back of the mind of 14-year police veteran Deputy Derek Geer. Just two days ago Geer tried to tase an armed 17-year-old boy. For his less-lethal efforts, Geer was killed. He leaves behind a wife and two children, ages 13 and 11.

Geer was the second cop this week to be shot and killed in a situation where police brought a taser to a gunfight. The first officer killed after using using leth-lethal force was Sergeant Jason Goodding. He and his partner recognized a man with an outstanding warrant. The wanted man resisted arrest, was tasered, and then shot Goodding three times. The other officer then shot and killed the subject. If only the cops had shot the wanted man a few seconds earlier.... Then people would be calling for "justice" for the criminal.

Update: While writing a post about two killed officers, two other officers were killed. Both were shot and killed by a 67-year-old wanted man. Together these Harford County Sheriff's deputies had 46 years experience.


Kyle said...

Not a big fan of guns here but gun rights is very important.

Repeal second amendment rights is the best way to fix this country... I probably sound un-American to a lot of "Americans" base on the fact that most Christian-faith "American" believes that gun rights are their "God" given rights. However, everyone need a driver license to legally drive so why shouldn't people need some sort of license/registration for firearm use? Maybe raise some tax for gun maker/owner/user? Or even firearm safety insurance... In order to sweeten the deal, firearm expenses are tax-deductable~

Back to the real world, let drones do patrol or at least send them in and take care dangerous jobs like this one... human lifes are too precious for non-sense like this...

PS: "American" and "God" in quotations because they are highly controversial depends on who you are and what you believe...
Thank god, Colorado has death penalty.

Unknown said...

Sounds like wild speculation that either of the officers killed hesitated to use *justified* lethal force. The stories, to the extent they shed any light on what happened, suggest otherwise. Geer is reported to have used his taser when the suspect attempted to run away. Pretty difficult to believe deadly force was legally justifiable to shoot the teen in the back while running away. No indication that Geer hesitated to use deadly force once the teen attempted to shoot him. The story on Gooding is even vaguer in describing what happened, but as with Geer, there's no indication the suspect even had a gun in hand when tasered or that the officer hesitated to use deadly force when it did become apparent that the suspect had a gun in hand. Cops already kills dozens of unarmed persons annually that posed absolutely no deadly threat to them. I don't think encouraging cops to kill more or to ease the standard for using deadly force in self defense (a standard that applies equally to cops and non-cops alike) is the answer.

IrishPirate said...

Watch Triumph the Insult Comic Dog poop on political correctness.


Moskos said...

I worry, and have for a while, that Tasers are contributing to more people being killed because too often Tasers do not work as needed, when needed.

Moskos said...

I'm spoken to police officers who have told me they've hesitated to use necessary force because of fear of repercussions, afraid of how it might look. They've been hurt (luckily not killed). I don't know if it's a larger trend. But I raise the point because I'm afraid it might be. Even if it's not, you've still got two cops in four days shot and killed with a taser in their hand.

The whole point of using lethal force is to use it *before* you get shot. You can't shoot somebody with a gun if you're holding a taser. That's why the legal standard centers around what a reasonable police officer would do and not the judgement of somebody who has never policed, thinking a cop needs to get shot at before it's OK for that cop to cap somebody. It's not supposed to be a fair fight.

Unknown said...


Or, back to the San Antonio shooting and the drama surrounding a local news publisher threatening to publish the home addresses of all San Antonio cops after comparing them to the KKK and sex offenders explaining it all away by stating the intent of the threat was to “...make an officer think twice before shooting so fast and killing an unarmed person.”


What does this ultimately mean? PERF explicitly denies that their recommendations will put officers at greater risk of being killed or injured. Most cops vehemently disagree. If it was your life at risk which option would you take? Likely, you would usually pick the lower force option, but can you honestly say you always would? The difference between policing and other jobs that are statistically more dangerous is those workers don't have to choose between getting killed or going in front of a grand jury.

Unknown said...

@ Pragmatic Liberaltarian, I think you're missing the point somewhat here. Yes, we cannot know what was in the minds of the two officers Peter mentions, mostly because they are dead, but that does not mean we cannot assess the environment they were operating under and how that might have formed their decisions to act how they did. The point I took from Peter's post (which is admittedly similar to a point I made in a comment a few days ago) is that force encounters happen quickly and that the use of a less lethal technique (ie starting at the lowest level of force possible and "safe") such as a taser means that sometimes, you just brought a taser to a gun fight. That usually means you have just lost and are dead.

In the Oregon shooting, the killer was not known or reported to have had a gun prior to the contact, but in his last arrest, within a month or so before, he was found in possession of C4 explosives. I guarantee that in a city of under 6,000 people every cop in that department knew about this arrest. If the guy can get C4 once, he likely could again or he might still have had some left from before. This previous arrest alone legally justifies extreme measures be taken on future arrests of this suspect (and certainly suggests applying an electrical charge to his person while in close proximity might not be the best of ideas). That said the pointing of guns and the demand that this guy get into a position of extreme submission is completely reasonable as would be shooting him had he not complied given the recent history.

In Arizona, the deputy was responding to a "person with a gun" call. Again, tactics might dictate a more cautious and forceful response involving the pointing of guns and the demand the suspect get on the ground and be safely taken into custody, but as has been discussed on this blog elsewhere, these calls are relatively common and this officer chose to low key it. He paid the ultimate price.

Where I am going here is the low key approach is often correct, but when it fails, it really really fails and it informs us on why officers might not choose to low key things.

See again the initial accounts of the Maryland shooting. The deputy low keys things and puts himself at a severe disadvantage with a subject he reportedly knew. It cost that deputy his life.


Now compare that to the officer in San Antonio arresting a suspect on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The suspect had his hand in his pocket, refused to remove it, and then suddenly did. The officer fired one round killing the suspect who was later found to be unarmed.

The point here is the first three examples are the background for the 4th officer's mindset.

What was the mindset of the first three? I don't know but perhaps it was dwelling on the recent Police Executive Research Foundation (PERF) report offering its recommendations for police force in the US.


Note two suggestions:

3. In assessing whether a response is proportional, officers must ask themselves, “How would the general public view the action we took? Would they think it was appropriate to the entire situation and to the severity of the threat posed to me or to the public?”


17. ...if an encounter requires a use of force, officers should start at the lowest level of force that is possible and safe...

While these two recommendations are worth considering, these are exactly the sort of ideas that inject the concept that officers should be second guessing themselves before using force, thus leading to bringing a taser to a gunfight.

Andy D said...

And the first of the two Harford County Deputies killed yesterday did EXACTLY what people complain that cops don't do. He approached the man casually and cordially asked him "How was your day?" at which time he was immediately shot in the head. And people wonder why cops treat everyone as a threat. Not because everyone IS, and not because this happens all the time, but because SOME people are, and SOMETIMES this does happen.

Unknown said...

"I'm spoken to police officers who have told me they've hesitated to use necessary force because of fear of repercussions, afraid of how it might look. They've been hurt (luckily not killed). I don't know if it's a larger trend. But I raise the point because I'm afraid it might be."

If the result of the officers you talked to is everybody lived when if they had not hesitated to kill because of fear of repercussions someone would've been killed, then that's a win in my book. I hope more officers fear the repercussions. We wouldn't have so many persons killed by cops every year if more of them did. When we start to see lots of cops die because they hesitate, then I'll start to believe the pendulum is starting to swing back into the middle. But, that's clearly not happening, while it clearly is the case that dozens of people are killed annually because police used deadly force when they were not in any real danger. I don't buy that it's better for dozens of people to be killed by cops so that one cop isn't killed because he hesitated.

Andy D said...

"I don't buy that it's better for dozens of people to be killed by cops so that one cop isn't killed because he hesitated."

And that is the difference between the way you see it and the way cops and their loved ones see it, and I don't see us bridging that gap any time soon. Cops act on probability and in reaction to what they feel and perceive. Afterwards we all second guess whether the threat was "real." But we don't actually KNOW even after, and the cops certainly don't know at the time, which is why the Supreme Court has always ruled that force used by law enforcement must be reasonable under the totality of the circumstances faced by the officer at the time. We can certainly argue about how we police, about how we hold officers (especially officers prone to misbehavior and complaints) accountable. But to tell them that "we'd rather you die or be seriously injured than for someone to die when they don't absolutely, without a doubt, really really really have to." is going to do nothing but accomplish what we are currently accomplishing in this country: make it harder and harder to get good people, who would be great cops, to enter the profession. Recruiting is near-impossible now (recruiting GOOD people that is) and, anecdotally, has been harder in the past 18 months than ever before. Volunteer to die? for (give or take) $50,000 a year? For the people that cops have to interact with? And be vilified at the same time? Yeah, the list of volunteers is short.

Unknown said...

Well, it appears the lengthy first part of my above post was eaten by the system leaving the second, continued, part floating.

A summary is that recent police killings where less force than was legally allowed was used to effect an arrest (taser) on people who were either reported to have been armed with a firearm (AZ) or at whose last arrest were armed with C4 explosives (OR) are what inform officers like in San Antonio. He approached a subject with a warrant for felon in possession of firearm. When that suspect had his hand in a pocket, showed initial non-compliance, had that specific history, and then quickly removed his hand from the pocket with something dark in the hand it is objectively reasonable to me to believe that suspect had a gun and was an imminent threat.

How would officers take a potentially dangerous mindset of low key, least force besides the obvious and constant media pressure and the increasing threat of criminal charges? We can look to the recent Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and its 30 Guiding principles for policing.


It calls on officers to work below the Graham Standard and second guess themselves often as well as to start at the least force possible. The key here is that where cops see a threat right in front of them in the here and now, citizen reviewers don't see a threat in front of someone else while watching it safely in front of their computer screens. Having never had that experience of a threat right in front of you does make a difference in interpreting testimony and video evidence. Does this mean every police shooting is justified legally and/or morally? Obviously not, but it does speak to the Graham Standard and why it is the way it is.

And ditto to Andy D's post. We can't get people to apply for police positions out here on the west coast. Hell, we can't even get current officers to fill overtime positions anymore. If this is the future of policing and police staffing, the public will need to severely lower their expectations on the sorts of situations to which police will respond.