Oakland BART Shooting

If you haven’t heard already, there was a recent shooting in Oakland involving a BART (metro service) law enforcement officer.  The situation is essentially as follows.  A fight or disruption occurred on a metro train. Several men were removed from the train. Most were lined up against a wall.  Some minor resistance was offered by a few of the men.  Later we see one of the men flat on the ground handcuffed.  One officer is on his back and a second has his knee over the man’s neck. Minimal resistance is occurring. When all of a sudden the officer on the back stands up, draws a sidearm and shoots the man in the back killing the man.

This was caught on video. You can see the video here, it’s about 2 minutes into it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKy-WSZMklc

There has been much protest over this incident. And I believe I read somewhere that the lawyer for the officer in question has turned in his resignation.  Rarely do I side against officers in their duty. But in this case, I believe this officer should be charged with manslaughter.  The victim was prone, the video shows him cuffed and held down. He was not thrashing about when the officer shot him in the back.

Now a rumor has been circulating that the officer in question had intended to taser the man. And my first reaction was, how in the world could the officer confuse the two.

I mean, most taser’s I have seen look like this:

However, a little googling revealed that many police officers wield a taser that looks like this.

Now this to me is a clear problem. The above police taser looks as if it’s modeled after a Glock (or other polymer) pistol. Now I can see how if one just instinctually drew and fired what one thought was to be a taser that there is the opportunity for confusion.

The shooter was a new police officer with 2 yrs on the force from what media reports made it sounds like.  And while I do think this incident requires “manslaughter” charges. I do believe that there may be some training and equipment issues to mitigate the sentencing of that charge, if the officer indeed intended to merely taser the victim..

I am of the opinion that the present police style of tasers is ultimately a poor design and should be eliminated. I would recommend a different grip. So as to deliberately distinguish the two arms.  Instead of a pistol style with grip on the bottom and long barrel protrusion. I think a full handle design would be better in the shape of a “D” with the launcher being on the front. This would make it much easier for the hands to instinctually distinguish between the two.

Please pray for both the family of the victim and the law enforcement officer involved in the shooting.

More info on the BART shooting.
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/01/08/BART.shooting/index.html

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Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. In medicine we try to avoid situations like that. Anytime we can have a confusion were life and death are involved we should try to eliminate it. i.e. two different medication dosage vials looking the same as in two dosages of heorain vials with relation to Dennis Quaid’s twins. When incidents like that happen we have discussion after wards of how it could have been prevented. I wonder if law enforcement does similar things.


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