Georgia Tech Police Shooting: Looks clearly justified, but was it avoidable?


Watching the above video it is clear that the cops tried to avoid shooting the Georgia Tech student and LGBT advocate Scout Schultz. They tried repeatedly to get him to drop the pocket-knife he had in his hand. They backed away, with one officer even putting a traffic barrier between him and the deceased. I don’t know what specifically triggered the firing officer to shoot, but I could certainly believe they witnessed a change in expression or something else that caused the officer to be fearful of imminent harm at the moment they shot. The suspect was easily inside of 21 feet, non-compliant, and acting erratically.

However, this seems to be a classic case where less-lethal means could have been attempted. There were multiple officers surrounding the suspect and there were no civilians in imminent jeopardy. Problem is, Georgia Tech Police officers do not carry tasers.

From Reason.com:

So why didn’t police use a Taser on Schultz? Georgia Tech campus police don’t carry them. And while police have often abused access to stun guns using pain to try to force compliance when it’s not needed (to the point that people get killed), the Schultz confrontation is a textbook example of when it’s appropriate for police to have and use a Taser. It was not an option.

I have stated TTAK’s Editorial Position on these incidents before, but it bears repeating. It is appropriate to give wider latitude to officers responding alone and without immediate backup. Less-lethal means are not as effective as well-placed gunfire in eliminating a threat. However, in cases like this where the public is safe, and an officer has immediate support in case of a failed attempt with a less-lethal tactic, it should be attempted.

I would love to know the rationale for the decision to forbid tasers. To this civilian, it does not make sense. Those responsible for the policy have some culpability in Scout Schultz’s death.

Scout Schultz

comments

  1. tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    #take back the rainbow

    almost named my boy skittles.

  2. Hannibal says:

    The reasoning behind not issuing tasers is very often liability. The moment you use one, people scream about police brutality and god forbid someone has a poor reaction due to underlying health concerns. So the brass- even in departments like the NYPD- figure it’s better to not issue them to everyone.

    Would it have been useful here? Maybe. Let’s start by saying that a Taser is not generally an appropriate response to a deadly weapon like a knife in close quarters. They just don’t work well enough. They fail often for myriad reasons. You can use one, but it’s only reasonable if you have someone else ‘covering’ you with a more effective weapons- which currently means a firearm until we finally figure out the star trek phasers.

    But even with two officers, it requires some level of planning and communication to pull off. If you are spread apart, it won’t work, because the cover officer would have to fire AT the other officer to stop the suspect. If you don’t know it’s coming, a taser deployment might also cause ‘contagious fire.’

    Basically, a taser might have been useful here, especially if the officers had enough time to figure out the best way to use it. But of course it’s moot if they didn’t have them.

    1. JasonJ says:

      Even if they had deployed pepper spray in this case, the guy/kid/whatever would likely have flailed wildly, and going in to apprehend, it is likely an officer would have been slashed or stabbed.

      I guess if we had those net firing launchers from video games that may have helped… maybe beanbag shotguns and hope he drops the knife… but this is reality, that does not happen that way.

      Honestly, with all of the disobeying of orders to drop the knife and proceeding to approach the officers, I think this looks more like suicide by cop.

    2. Hannibal says:

      Yeah pepper spray is a non-starter. And it was suicide by cop- he’s the one that called police, he left suicide notes, and demanded that they shoot him.

      Which, okay, I get when people say that he might not have been as much of a threat as someone actively trying to kill cops but here’s the thing: he’s willing to die in a hail of bullets, even eager for that, so what makes people think he wouldn’t be willing to take a slash at a cop to get the result he wants?

  3. Jason says:

    You are misapplying the 21 foot rule. That is the distance to draw aim and fire. The officers in this case were already drawn and aimed.

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Georgia Tech Police Shooting: Looks clearly justified, but was it avoidable?

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