Police Officer Faces Disciplinary Action For Failure To Use Deadly Force
Some people wonder why police officers do not shoot to wound, or fire warning shots rather than first using deadly force. In this incident, an officer for the Gautier, Mississippi Police Department fired a warning shot, and is facing disciplinary action because warning shots are in violation of department policy.
The incident is described by Gautier Police Department spokesman Casey Baxter.
On June 19, 2017, 27-year old Lamarcus Deantonio Williams was being pulled over for a traffic stop when he sped off. The officer, who has not been named in media reports, followed Williams.
After about a mile and a half pursuit, Williams stopped the car, got out, and ran off with something in his hand. According to Baxter, there were repeated commands to stop and “let me see your hands,” but Williams turned and charged the officer. That’s when the officer fired a warning shot into the ground. Williams ran past the officer and the officer tackled him.
“The officer was in violation of department policy when he discharged his weapon as a warning shot. The slug was recovered a few feet from where the officer was, so it was clearly a warning shot into the ground,” Baxter said.
Baxter said department policy would have allowed for the use of deadly force.
“He didn’t know what he had in his hand. He raised up his arms like it was a gun when he charged. You don’t know if it’s a gun or a knife, and everything’s happening in a split second,” Baxter said.
Williams did not have a weapon. Baxter said he believes Williams was carrying a cell phone. Williams was arrested and faces one felony charge and three misdemeanor charges. Williams had been previously arrested on March 14, 2017 on a misdemeanor drug charge.
In this incident, even the spokesperson for the police department says he believes that Williams was carrying a cell phone.
What we have is a situation where a police officer chose not to use deadly force and in doing so, an unarmed man did not lose his life. There was no harm to the officer. Human life shouldn’t be taken on the basis of thinking a suspect is armed. In my opinion, the officer used good judgment because a person with a gun does not have to charge forth if they intend on using it. The officer should be commended for making the RIGHT decision, rather than disciplined for it.