On February 14, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a police officer had shot and killed a 17-year-old boy:
At 7:35 p.m. Friday, two Euharlee police officers went to 937 Euharlee Road, Lot No. 5, to serve two probation violation arrest warrants, GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday night.
Christopher Roupe, 17, opened the door with a handgun pointed at the officers, Lang said.
“The officer fired one shot, striking Roupe,” she said. “The officer immediately called for medical assistance. Roupe was transported to the hospital in Cartersville where he was pronounced dead.”
That seems like a pretty straightforward story. Right?
Except it seems to be partially made up.
It is true that Roupe is dead. His dreams of becoming a Marine are terminated. It is true that an officer shot him in the chest when he answered the door. But he was never holding a handgun.
He was holding a Wii remote.
From Raw Story:
Attorney Cole Law, who is representing the family, told WSB-TV that the boy was holding a Wii video game controller because he was getting ready to watch a movie.
“It just doesn’t add up,” Law observed. “We don’t know where that statement came from. The eyewitnesses on the scene clearly state that he had a Wii controller in his hand. He heard a knock at the door. He asked who it was, there was no response so he opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest.”
Neighbor Tia Howard showed up after the shooting. She was also told that “there was a Wii remote in his hand and [the officer] shot him.”
Neighbor Ken Yates said that he saw the officer just after the Roupe was killed, and she appeared devastated.
“This is tragic,” Yates recalled. “She came out of this house. She put her head in her hands and she was sobbing. Supposedly, he opened the door with a BB gun and in my opinion I think he was playing a game with his neighborhood buddies.”
I wonder if Roupe was holding one of the relatively rare black Wii remotes.
I assume that this officer hates what she did and that it was, however irresponsible, a genuine accident. While the results are far more tragic, I don’t think her actions are quite at this level, for example.
But it still shouldn’t have happened.
I hope the media will get the answers to some questions.
What kind of training did the officer who killed Roupe receive?
We can break this down into practice and expectations.
In the area of practice:
Did the officer already have her gun drawn when she knocked on the door? If so, is that standard procedure for that kind of warrant? Why?
Did the officer have her forefinger on the trigger rather than along the gun outside the trigger guard? If so, is that the way she was taught to hold her firearm before she had reason to shoot? Why?
Assuming the report is true, why did the officers not identify themselves when they knocked on the door? Why did they not respond when asked their identity? Did they fail to hear the question or did they refuse to answer? If so, is that what they were trained to do? If so, why?
In the area of expectations:
Were the officers trained to expect a deadly confrontation?
Are the officers trained to expect children and other people who have nothing to do with any criminal allegation to be in a home when they are serving a warrant on a specific individual?
Was the officer ever trained with a poster like one of these?
Are police warned of the consequences of wounding or killing a bystander? What are they warned will happen to them?
And a final group of questions:
How did the story that the boy was holding a gun get reported by the press?
Did a police officer deliberately give out false information?
Will there be any consequences for publishing falsehoods?