In a press conference on Friday, the Fairbanks (AK) Police Department said prosecutors would not file criminal charges against FPD Sergeant Gregory Foster for fatally shooting James Robert Richards, Jr., 28, of Fairbanks. Richards was fatally shot in the summer of 2016 after he allegedly threatened people, fled from police, and took a hostage.
FPD was called to the area after Richards assaulted two residents by ‘pistol whipping’, firing a bullet into the wall, and “demanding money and drugs.” He then walked away from the apartment, where FPD made contact with him.
While the press release and the ensuing public outrage claiming that the suspect’s ‘Alaska Native’ descent played a role in the shooting, one important aspect was largely ignored…..The actions of the suspect himself.
We want to be clear and that is that law enforcement should, if at all possible, attempt to “de-escalate” every situation and respect human life, no matter who that person is.
But the video released by the Fairbanks Police Department last week is a cause for concern.
Here is a suspect that has fired his weapon and violently assaulted citizens and in the name of ‘de-escalation’ he is permitted to walk the streets with a gun and even take a hostage before he was killed by police.
In this situation, the hostage was not hurt but in the next we may not be so fortunate.
In this situation, the attempt of the police to ‘de-escalate’ caused further danger to the community and while they went above and beyond to not use deadly force (to the point a hostage was taken), what did that get them?
They were still accused of being racists.
Don’t get us wrong. Law enforcement in this situation did an admirable and heroic deed and they did everything they could to not use deadly force.
The pressures on our officers in enormous and that is the actual problem…not this incident.
Police should not be expected to let an active shooter roam the streets in any town and, in this situation, until a hostage is taken.
At some point, and we would say now, the blame on the use of deadly force must fall on the one person that caused it to happen and in this and virtually every other case it is the suspect and the suspect’s actions.
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