The Los Angeles Police Commission wants LAPD police officers to run away when a suspect confronts them with a weapon, warns the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union of the city’s police officers.
The organization posted a blog post critical of the commission’s recent decision to find that fault lay upon an LAPD officer who used deadly force when a female suspect, Norma Guzman, came at him and his partner swinging a large knife.
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“The key facts in this case are not in dispute. A female suspect, armed with an 8 to 9-inch knife, charged at officers, repeatedly ignored commands to stop, and was recorded yelling ‘shoot me’ as she swung her knife from side to side,” the LAPPL Board of Directors wrote in a blog post.
The armed suspect immediately closed the space between her knife and the police officers from 70 feet to no more than 5 feet in less 10 seconds. At this point, the first officer shot from his service weapon.
The second officer (Officer C) involved in the incident only had three seconds to react to the forthcoming threat. The Commission stated, “It was reasonable for Officer C to believe, in the moment when the use of force occurred, that the subject would imminently assault him with the knife.”
So why did the commission have a problem with the officers’ reaction?
The commission stated that the first officer’s “position initially provided Officer C with a position of tactical advantage” but lost the advantage as the suspect came at him. They wrote, “this advantage rapidly diminished as the Subject continued her advance, leaving him with neither distance nor effective cover as the Subject approached the space between two parked vehicles by which Officer C was located.”
“Suspect charging from the front. Vehicles on either side. Where do you ‘redeploy?’ Run backwards. This is absurd and it’s dangerous. What happens if the officer loses his footing with a charging suspect? What happens if the suspect runs into a nearby home or store and confronts its occupants with her weapon?” LAPPL asks.
The LAPPL continues, “What if the suspect also had a concealed gun? What is created when an officer turns tail and runs away is a large target. It’s called a back. The officer would put their lives in further jeopardy by running away if the suspect had a gun. At this close range, running away would create a self-caused danger to the officers and the public.”
In a statement to TheDC, The Board Of Directors of The LAPPL said, “When officers are attacked, they must be able to protect themselves. It’s appalling that four commissioners with zero law enforcement experience can so easily cast aside the Chief of Police’s conclusion that our officers acted within policy.”
The statement continues, “The Commission’s finding that an officer being charged at with a weapon should run away is absurd. The commission just made every police officer’s job more dangerous. They are telling officers you can save your life or save your job, but you cannot do both.”