By now I suspect most of you have heard the story. From the Washington Post:
A police officer in South Carolina shot a 70-year-old motorist who was reaching for a cane during a traffic stop because he thought the man was grabbing a rifle from the bed of his pickup truck, investigators said. The man was expected to survive.
The York County deputy, Terrence Knox, pulled over Bobby Canipe (kah-NYP’) of Lincolnton, N.C., for an expired license tag about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday north of Clover, S.C., York County sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris said.
After stopping, Canipe got out of his pickup truck and reached into the bed, pulling out what Knox thought was a long-barreled rifle, Faris said. It was Canipe’s walking cane. The officer fired several times, hitting Canipe once, Faris said.
Faris refused to say where on his body Canipe was hit, but said he was expected to survive. Canipe was taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., where spokesman Kevin McCarthy said he was listed in fair condition.
“The situation is very unfortunate,” Faris said, reading from a statement at a news conference. “It does appear, at this time, that Deputy Knox’s actions were an appropriate response to what he reasonably believed to be an imminent threat to his life.”
Stop. Just stop!
I’m sure Knox is a good guy who didn’t want to hurt anyone. I’m sure he really thought he saw a gun and reacted quickly.
But that is not enough.
Essentially Faris is claiming that if any cop thinks he sees something that isn’t there he is free to shoot and kill any of us. In such cases our deaths will be ruled as the result of a justified shooting.
If a non-policeman shot at someone because he mistakenly thought he was armed, that person would be in jail right away. No one would even think of declaring the action “an appropriate response.” That logic is reserved for the police and only for the police.
I’m sorry for Knox’s bad luck, but he shouldn’t be able to keep his job after shooting an unarmed man. We should feel even more sorry for those who are wounded or killed. We cannot have law enforcement officers trained to shoot first and ask questions later.