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.
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.