Charlotte Police Chief Defends Officers: ‘I Don’t Get To Second Guess’

Charlotte Police Chief Defends Officers: ‘I Don’t Get To Second Guess’

As criticism of the fatal shooting of Ruben Galindo continued to mount, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney again defended his officers Tuesday, saying a refusal to put down a weapon justifies police use of deadly force.

“I think there’s a hesitancy for people to really listen and understand this: A gun in an encounter with the police is a game-changer,” Putney said during an exclusive interview with the Observer. “You are in possession of a gun that can kill our officers or someone else. Therefore, legally, you’re authorizing the use of lethal force.”

Galindo, 29, was shot and killed by officers on Sept. 6 after a brief encounter with officers responding to his 911 call.

In a calm voice, Galindo told dispatchers that he wanted to turn himself in for an upcoming court date involving his earlier arrest on a charge of assault by pointing a gun. He also said he was armed, but that his gun was empty. A recording of the conversations indicates Galindo repeatedly resisted the urging of the dispatcher to put his gun away before police arrived.

Between three and four seconds pass from the time police shout their first orders for Galindo to drop his gun and a series of shots ring out. Then Galindo slumps to the ground.

A gun was recovered at the scene, police said, and Putney has acknowledged that it was not loaded.

The chief’s remark drew strong criticism. Charlotte NAACP President Corinne Mack, called it “asinine.”

Putney took over the only police department where he’s ever worked in 2015, becoming Charlotte first internal police chief hire in more than 25 years.

Putney did say that his officers’ use of force almost always involve an armed subject.

“The facts are our officers are encountering too many people with guns and having too limited opportunities to de-escalate a situation where their lives and the lives of other people are in jeopardy,” he said.

Based on the department’s initial investigation, Suggs and Guerra did not commit a crime, Putney said. In those situations, he said, “I don’t get to second guess.”

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  1. Todd

    Action beats reaction. That is a principle in combat. For those who propose we wait and enter into a “goofy loop,” of 25 warnings realize you propose we carry our weapons in vain. We do not carry our weapons in vain. If you want win – seize the initiative. Maintain that initiative until the fight is over. If you care to study police shootings youtube will give you examples of officers who entered into goofy loops and paid the ultimate price. Gunfights are often over in about 2 seconds and four shots. Shootings are preferred to gunfights – where the authorities are the ones doing the shooting. Combat isn’t fair. Reject Hollywood’s version of it. The only reasoned response when confronted by legitimate authorities is to immediately drop any firearm from your hands. Do that and live. Do it not – and you are probably going to be dead soon. This Chief is demonstrating authentic leadership. That is rare today as this culture of death grows darker by the day.

  2. ahaz

    Not to repeat some of the deserved criticism of the chief, but absolutely he should be second guessing the actions of all his officers. He is tasked with making sure his officers follow the law, policy and procedures. Admittedly when there is a weapon involved, officers get the benefit of the doubt. However, there are enough reasons to question the officers actions based upon the video, where there doesn’t appear to be an immediate deadly threat. The suspects hands were raised, weapon notwithstanding. And it didn’t appear that the person was making threatening actions toward the officer. This shooting will ruled justified

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