If you are ever taken hostage by robbers, you had better make your move to free yourself before the police show up.
At least that is the lesson from what has been said by the surviving family of Misty Holt-Singh.
Three days ago the one surviving bank robber pleaded not guilty in court (source). One of the charges against him was murder. Since the death occurred because he was committing a crime, I think the charge is just. But he didn’t shoot Holt-Singh and neither did his dead partners.
From KCRA-3: “Attorney for Singh family: Officers used unreasonable force.”
Paul Singh, stood next to his attorney while they discussed recent developments in the investigation during a news conference on Thursday. Family attorney Greg Bentley said that protocol calls for discriminate gunfire and described the 600 bullets shot into the suspects’ vehicle as excessive.
“Chief (Eric) Jones confirmed 33 officers fired 600 bullets with full knowledge of a hostage inside the vehicle,” Bentley said. “That is excessive and unreasonable force.”
Bentley continued: “You don’t shoot unless he or she has a clear shot of the bad guy (and) not when a hostage inside.”
Police have defended officers, saying they were under constant fire and worried the violence would escalate.
Bentley said that video footage from the Stockton bank was shocking and shows Misty Holt-Singh pleading with kidnappers to let her go because she has a family.
The police have claimed shooting at the car was justified because the police were concerned about the possibility that the robbers would take other hostages. But as risks go, how does that possibility compare to the fact that they were shooting at an innocent person? Surely any claim to be concerned about future hostages should only remind us that they decided not to worry about killing the actual hostage the robbers had taken.
According to the lawyer, the proper procedure would have been to back off and allow the police helicopter to track the getaway vehicle. Why did the police not do so?
There may be a way to justify firing on a car containing a hostage and killing her in the process of killing some of the robbers, but there is no way to claim that such an action is heroic. In the movies and television, cops are constantly trying to save the innocent victims.
In real life, not so much. Perhaps that is simply the way the real world has to be. But I notice plenty of times that we are expected to regard policemen as heroes. That doesn’t work. If they want to be considered heroes, they need to do something heroic.
Save the hostage; don’t shoot her.