First Date Didn’t Go Well

Cohasset, Massachusetts police responded to an assault in progress. They found the suspect actively engaged in stabbing his date, a young woman he met via the Internet. The officers subdued him using nonlethal means, a taser. He died anyway.

The story is related below.

The suspect’s father is full of bluster and bullshit; his kid never did anything wrong. Sounds like the asshole gene runs in the family. This is a situation where the cops are in a “no win” situation.

The suspect was actively stabbing a victim when police arrived. That is called aggravated assault or attempted murder. It is a felony clearly dangerous to human life. Even in Massachusetts police are justified in using deadly force to protect themselves or a third party. Did I mention the suspect was a 6’8″ and almost 300 pound weightlifter?

Instead, the officers decided to try a lower level of force, a stun gun. In all likelihood this was outside of policy. The general rule is to meet force with force. In other words, the officers should have met the suspect’s deadly force with deadly force of their own. With multiple officers present, I don’t have a problem with the deployment of a stun gun. That is with the understanding that other officers were poised to shoot should the effort fail.

As usual the press report is unclear. It says that the suspect was tased three or four times. I suspect that he was hit once with taser probes and a shock was applied multiple times. The device records the deployment, number of times used and length of shock. So while the press has no idea what they are talking about, the police have a record.

As soon as the suspect was subdued and restrained he was treated by EMS. He died while being transported. The police went above and beyond what was required of them. The operation was a success, but the patient died.

The officers did everything they could to avoid using deadly force. What gets lost in the hoopla is that there are two components to the confrontation. The police intervened at the lowest possible level and took the suspect into custody. The second component is the suspect. An autopsy will reveal if he was under the influence of drugs, or had a preexisting medical condition. Nonlethal means not intended to cause death, but it does not guarantee that result.

To me, this falls in the category of tough shit. The moment he started stabbing his date and disregarding police instructions to stop, he was a dead man. The good news with the taser death is that there are no bullet holes in the walls that need patching.