back to article Scumbag who phoned in a Call of Duty 'swatting' that ended in death pleads guilty to dozens of criminal charges

One of three people charged over the December 2017 “swatting” death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in the US has pleaded guilty. Tyler Barriss, 25, was indicted in May for making a bogus 911 call to police in Wichita, Kansas, urging officers to send out a SWAT team. As a result, on December 28, the cops showed up outside Finch's …

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So the police bear no responsibility ?

Perhaps it would simplify things if the air force had a web form that you could just call up an airstrike ?

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

The gun laws laws, where everyone can just unexpectedly draw a gun, make the police very nervous. I can't see this happening so easily in countries with strict laws.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

The gun laws laws, where everyone can just unexpectedly draw a gun,

Sure, so where does that put let's say Swiss police? Are they supposed to go in with tanks and an airstrike? After all the suspect is known (there is no likely there) to possess military issue infantry weapons. Does Canadian police shoot first and ask questions later? They have comparable amount of guns per capita. Do not even get me started on the amount of weaponry floating around some places in Eastern Europe. I used to live in an apartment block where we were the only family without firearms. The guy under me had a Dragunov, the guy above me an AK47. That still does not make police go out and kill people at random.

This is a USA specific issue. It is the only country in the world where the cops never ever try to defuse any situation. They go in "to deliver justice" and they do it instead of court. While it was bad as far back as I can remember (all the way to the few years I spent there as a student), it became really bad under Bush.

Bush allowed the army to offload surplus military gear to local police departments and local police departments to undergo ARMY training. There is a massive difference between ARMY training and police training in all of the civilized world. ARMY training is how to kill first, do it more efficiently and it always presumes the other side combatant. It is to kill. Civilian police training is always to DEFUSE. That is the training the rest of the world gets. If a cop, however, does that in USA, he gets fired. Just like that:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/12/stephen-mader-west-virginia-police-officer-settles-lawsuit

By the way, as long as USA does not fix that it has no entitlement to explain others what is a democracy, how to run it and what are human rights.

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Anonymous Coward

call up an airstrike ?

How many airstrike hit the wrong target because woefully wrong information? While it looks that US cops always fire first and assess the situation later, it's also true that this time they were lured into a situation very hard to manage for both parties - one that believed to be facing someone who already murdered a man and held hostages that could be also killed, the other that obviously and unluckily couldn't understand what was happening at all, and thereby had a big chances to act in the "wrong" way.

Frankly, I hope to never find myself in such a situation, on either side, because the chances of a tragic ending are very high. Firing to disable someone without life-threatening injuries is very difficult (but in movies or games, of course) - if you don't achieve it, and someone has time to re-enter the house and kill the hostages, it's your fault - of course when you have to think that there are hostages in danger.

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Anonymous Coward

"Sure, so where does that put let's say Swiss police?"

Despite the number of rifles around, Switzerland is culturally very different from US - and its gun laws are still far more restrictive, despite the number of rifles given to "militia" personnel - still, now without the ammunition. Concealed carrying permission is not easy to obtain, and even buying ammunition requires checks - so you're not really afraid someone will extract a gun from his trousers - living close to the Swiss border and having traveled there often, you don't see guns around, they don't carry around their ordnance rifles, and criminality levels are very low.

Laws were made more stringent when Switzerland entered the Schengen agreement, as it permits Swiss to travel to other countries with stricter laws without border checks.

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Chz

Re:Army vs Police training

"There is a massive difference between ARMY training and police training in all of the civilized world. ARMY training is how to kill first, do it more efficiently and it always presumes the other side combatant. It is to kill. Civilian police training is always to DEFUSE."

That's not even the case everywhere outside of the US. British forces are considered to be the best in the world at military police actions, precisely because of the lessons learned in Northern Ireland. They are most definitely trained to defuse a situation before shooting, when the opportunity presents itself. Canadian soldiers are most likely to find themselves on UN Peacekeeping duties and train in much the same way. I suspect it's also the case in many of the smaller European countries that play an active role in UN operations.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

" It is the only country in the world where the cops never ever try to defuse any situation."

I realise (hope) you're exaggerating to make a point but a quick look on the PoliceActivity channel on youtube will prove that a lie. What it shows - even though its probably curated by the authorities - is that there are some good cops working in the USA who don't shoot first. Perhaps they're a minority, I don't know, but don't tar all of them with the same brush.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

A form like this? https://xkcd.com/970/

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Re: "Sure, so where does that put let's say Swiss police?"

Switzerland is culturally very different from US.

Correct. The US used to be in a league of its own. A lovely combination of brainwashing children about their moral superiority over everyone else from kindergarten onwards and guns all over the place.

That is now no longer the case. They have been joined by Russia as of late.

The Russians have switched from "think of how you can improve and what you are doing wrong" school doctrine to a similar "Nation Guided by Divine Providence" brainwashing style ~ 15 years ago courtesy of Vlad and his helpers.

They are now reaping what they sow. From virtually ZERO school weapon incidents they are up to a Columbine every few months. The sole distinction is that they still have better STEM education so when their kids mix up bombs they explode - as they did in Kerch (and failed in Columbine).

Give it a decade for the brainwashed generation brought up with the doctrine of Divine Providence to grow up and you will get workplace incidents as in USA as well.

They also now have their own pro-gun organizations too which are working together with the NRA as well. In fact they are becoming USA's spitting image in this one as well (anyone who has lived in both places will tell you that there are plenty of other areas too).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

Sorry, but that just isn’t true. The ROE (rules of engagement) used by the ARMY (dunno why that’s capitalised, it’s not an acronym) in Iraq and Afghan are far, far more restrictive than anything the cops use in CONUS, and the penalty for violating the ROE far harsher.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

> I can't see this happening so easily in countries with strict laws.

Yeah there's no way the police in London would gun down an unarmed Brazilian plumber on the tube for no reason.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

An unarmed Brazilian plumbers wearing a very thick coat in summer ( potentially hiding a suicide vest ), jumping over turnstiles and running away from the police, ignoring calls to stop.

While it was a cock-up, it was an understandable one.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

"An unarmed Brazilian plumbers wearing a very thick coat in summer ( potentially hiding a suicide vest ), jumping over turnstiles and running away from the police, ignoring calls to stop."

And working in the UK illegally. The guy was a criminal, just not one who deserved to die, but given the situation and his very odd behaviour the police were left with little choice.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

"While it was a cock-up, it was an understandable one"

Very unfortunate for the individual involved but let's also not forget that it was on the same day that tube trains and buses had been blown up by terrorists, and the police were very jumpy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

He wasn't wearing a winter coat, he didn't jump the barriers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Charles_De_Menezes#Disputed_facts_and_events

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Unhappy

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

Well said.

I'm actually astonished that there are still people who still believe Dick's bare-faced outright lies - If ever someone was well named it's that apology for a woman - who incidentally has been 'punished' by being made the boss of the MET.

You couldn't make it up!

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Stop

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

An unarmed Brazilian plumbers wearing a very thick coat in summer ( potentially hiding a suicide vest ), jumping over turnstiles and running away from the police, ignoring calls to stop.

That was all proven to be lies. Along with the lie of the police claiming that the CCTV was not working when it was.

This is why Fake News and Alternative Facts are so dangerous. Or lies and demonisations as we used to call them.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

according to pretty detailed wikipedia entry, "...evidence that emerged during the course of the criminal trial into the Health and Safety charge showed that Menezes was lawfully in the country on 22 July 2005."

The same article doesn't say he was criminal, despite mentioning the various theories why he ran onto the train.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

"wearing a very thick coat in summer"

We were given that misinformation early on, but he was wearing a denim jacket. The temperature in London that day was 17°C.

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Anonymous Coward

"the case in many of the smaller European countries that play an active role"

Yes, we saw how one of then "defused" well the situation in Srebrenica...

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

Gun laws and proper use of deadly force have nothing to do with each other.

The police shot a man because he dropped his hands to his sides with no weapon visible. Police TRAIN for this over and over. Nervousness should not enter into it. Use of deadly force has a hard series of parameters that must be met BEFORE pulling the trigger. The US police are simply trigger happy with a "shoot first and ask questions" attitude with little repercussion when they screw up. To the same argument, they also choke out unarmed suspects, then fail to render CPR once unconscious, resulting in death.

The US is on a slippery slope. In the US, 'suspicion' is enough grounds to arrest someone, then hold them almost indefinitely. They can seize your money / property and you then have to prove it was not gained through criminal activity to get (only part of) it back. Federal law enforcement can lie to you without blowback, but lying to a federal official is a felony and can result in up to one year in jail. Their prosecutors hide evidence that undermine the defenses cases, they threaten the innocent with 30 year sentences unless you plead guilty to reduce that sentence and the government protects them. They are becoming a lost people.

The idiot that picked up the phone and called in a false report holds part of the blame, but responsibility for shooting an unarmed man falls squarely on the police. They are supposed to protect the citizenry.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

"Sure, so where does that put let's say Swiss police?"

Gun in Switzerland are commonly from national service so the owner is trained in use and gun safety, and those guns are generally securely stored separately from ammunition. So it's really not an issue compared to selling them at supermarkets and letting any gung-ho idiot own one...

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Stop

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

@AC and others...

"pandering to the perception" (U.S. cops being trigger happy murderers waiting for an excuse, and gun rights being an 'enabler' for them to 'be that way') might make you *feel* better, but it's neither TRUE nor HELPING.

And in my opinion FEELINGS are IRRELEVANT.

More often than not, guns STOP crimes.

But then again, *anything* can kill you, especially that Di-hydrogen Monoxide stuff - it's *EVERWHERE* !!!

^^^ if you don't see the correlation, then I pity you.

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FAIL

Re: "Sure, so where does that put let's say Swiss police?"

@Voland's right hand

I won't even bother to quote from your post.

So, how's that "illegal to carry a knife" thing working out in London these days? Did it make ANY difference? Or is it just unnecessarily restricting those who might need one for some reason... or just simply WANT one.

I suspect it's 100% ineffective, just like EVERY OTHER "liberal solution" to crime. It doesn't affect criminals. They're scoff-laws anyway. It only affects the rest of us.

(although some of us, including me, don't need a knife or a gun to kill, so are HANDS going to be banned next? most people might need a weapon to properly defend themselves, because a cop can't be everwhere)

but yeah the main disadvantage of a knife or a gun is the fact that a skilled martial artist could TAKE IT AWAY [and then use it on THEM].

And, only 'sheeple' that have been cowed into NOT FIGHTING BACK [and then banning any means of self defense for anyone else] would want the carrying of reasonable self-defense weapons to be BANNED.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

Sorry, but that just isn’t true. The ROE (rules of engagement).

Correct again. However you missed not one, but TWO points.

1. The cops are getting NO ROE training while getting the shoot-em-up programme of what is considered the MOST TRIGGER HAPPY ARMY IN THE WORLD.

2. Even if they had ROE training as per their ROE training anyone with a gun or suspected to have a gun is a hostile so they apply the standard approach US ARMY applies to a hostile. That approach can be generally described as "thanks god they are not armed with sub-1Kt nukes"(*)

(*)though it looks like Trump is about to fix that.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

It's also one sad incident, not one per day or more.

Slightly different. the fact it hasn't happened *since* speak volumes, no?

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Sure, that is an exaggeration.

Seems US police forces are only trained to fire first if the suspect is black. For white people they often do try to defuse first.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

>"pandering to the perception" (U.S. cops being trigger happy murderers waiting for an excuse, and gun rights being an 'enabler' for them to 'be that way') might make you *feel* better, but it's neither TRUE nor HELPING.

And in my opinion FEELINGS are IRRELEVANT.

More often than not, guns STOP crimes.<

Speaking as one of the relatively few people in the UK who shoots in a number of different disciplines (and even trained as a gunsmith many years ago) I can hardly be accused of being anti-gun; but your statement that guns stop crime is, despite being peddled by Trump supporters everywhere, absolute hogwash. There may be a small number of occasions when it's been the case, but it's the simple widespread availability of very dangerous hardware - and lack of suitable checks/restrictions - that is the root cause of the USA's problems with gun violence. It's why these things happen more in the USA than elsewhere.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

It remains to be seen.

The county DA decided (not quite four months after the shooting) not to bring charges. So there won't be any criminal liability for the police officers involved in Finch's murder.

However, the last I heard, the family was still pressing a Federal civil rights and/or wrongful death suit (various news agencies have conflicting reports) against the police department.

In the US, frankly, a civil action like this is far more likely to be brought, and to succeed, than criminal charges against the police. Because of the adversarial nature of the US judicial system and the predominance of plea bargains rather than trial convictions, prosecutors have extremely close ties to the police forces. (See The Chickenshit Club for more background.) Couple that with the fact that the various local and state prosecutorial offices are now widely treated as stepping-stones to higher political office, and the candidates that emerge from them appeal to the "law & order" fear-fetishist rabble, and you can see why there are relatively few prosecutions (below the Federal level) of police officers and very few convictions.

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Re: Sure, that is an exaggeration.

"Seems US police forces are only trained to fire first if the suspect is black. For white people they often do try to defuse first."

Umm... have you seen a picture of Finch? Seems a contradictory statement.

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Re: Sure, that is an exaggeration.

"Seems US police forces are only trained to fire first if the suspect is black. For white people they often do try to defuse first."

That's been found to be very inaccurate. According to the stats, "white" people are shot more often both in total numbers AND as the number per 100,000 in the population. The difference is what gets reported in the news and the rioting/burning and looting of neighborhoods that can occur afterwards.

In certain low-income and predominately black neighborhoods the numbers will look much different, but it's very easy to find a place on the map where your assertions might be valid. Just not when you zoom out and look at bigger regions. Take a look at Chicago and the number of police shooting incidents involving a black suspect is pretty low. Especially when compared to the number of black people shooting each other. The days that make the new are the rare ones when there HASN'T been a gang shooting/killing.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

"In the US, frankly, a civil action like this is far more likely to be brought, and to succeed, than criminal charges against the police."

That is because to convict somebody of a criminal charge (The State vs person), the burden of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt". In a civil trial (person vs person or State), the bar is set lower and winning is "on the preponderance of the evidence". The awards in a civil trial are also money, so more blood sucking lawyers gravitate to that type of practice and the ones that are good in a court room build a reputation (and back account) for being able to sway juries.

There are bad cops, but many of them get pushed out long before they do something that makes the news. Most are pretty good and the worst that can be said is they lack compassion, but after a career dealing with people at their worst, they can hardly be blamed.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

You could count the shooting mistakes by UK police over the last 20 years on a single hand.

Even when you consider the population difference of the UK and US, the amount of bad US police shootings a month probably surpasses the last 2 decades of bad UK shootings.

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Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

@disgustedoftunbridgewells

Menezes wasnt wearing a thick coat, he didn't run, he didnt jump the turnstiles, and he wasnt called to stop.

He was also in the country legally.

You'd know all that if you'd bothered to check the basic information instead of listening to the lies from Ian Blair, which he retracted.

Whats really worrying is that the Dick that made the poor decisions is now in charge of the Met!

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Hostage situations...

Put yourself in the cops shoes.

What would you've done if you get a 911 call regarding a hostile hostage situation, you go out to try to defuse that situation.

Of course you'll have to ASSUME that ANYBODY walking out of the door is part of the hostile party, and if said person do things quite contrary to your orders (dropping hands when ordered to place his/her hands up) you'll shoot, questions asked later.

In this case the police merely acted as a proxy - so the person who originally did the swatting is guilty of "pulling the trigger by proxy". (If such a term do exist in law).

And IANAL.

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Re: Hostage situations...

"Put yourself in the cops shoes"

Okay : I am pointing my gun at a man who has his hands up. I should be able to clearly see that he is not armed. His hands, for some reason (because he's innocent ?) go down (that's a mistake). I can :

A) Shoot

B) Shout at him to get his hands back up

Yes, the cops thought they were dealing with a violent guy, but I'd think you still need to see a weapon before feeling threatened.

All of this confirms what I think I will do if ever I find myself facing a bunch of US cops with their guns out for me: hands up, drop to my knees, hit the ground and spread-eagle. If they want to talk to me after that, I'll be listening, but I won't move until they tell me I can or come and cuff me.

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Re: Hostage situations...

And if I take option A) and shoot, I can:

1) Shoot to kill

2) Shoot to injure, because it doesn't look like he's armed, he seems confused as to why we're here, there have been those headlines about cops shooting the wrong person and maybe this guy is innocent.so injuring him is better than killing him.

Tough choice...

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Unhappy

Re: Hostage situations...

"What would you've done if you get a 911 call regarding a hostile hostage situation, you go out to try to defuse that situation."

Um, call back the phone or the home landline for confirmation?! Since the alleged shooter called 911 (multiple times) there's a pretty good chance he would answer´if it was real.

Of course you'll have to ASSUME that ANYBODY walking out of the door is part of the hostile party and if said person do things quite contrary to your orders (dropping hands when ordered to place his/her hands up)

I'd be pretty dazed if I walked out of the house and suddenly cops were all around shouting orders and lots of lights. Hands dropping due to confusion - quite possible. Finch flinched and that was it.

Just makes me wonder why the cop who shot him (with a rifle and looking through the scope) had to aim for his chest - the bullet went through his heart according to autopsy. Why don't they aim for feet just to incapacitate? The cops were behind cars and any wild shooter from that distance would have zero chance to hit anyone if he managed to pull a pistol from his pocket.

The local paper has a report with multiple poor quality bodycam videos (due to night time?). The officers' reports vary and some didn't regard him a threat and thought he was going to pull his pants up. Not all officers even had their bodycams turned on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hostage situations...

There is no "shoot to injure". Once the decision has been made that deadly force is required, then deadly force is fully applied.

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Meh

Re: Hostage situations...

"Shoot to injure"

That's just Hollywood bollocks I'm afraid, all that "just wing him" shit is exactly that.

If you have to fire a gun at someone you fire for the biggest target, torso.

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Re: Hollywood bollocks

Dutch police are trained to shoot at the legs and they aren't the best trained shooters in Europe, not by a long shot (pun unintentional but fitting). Sometimes it isn't possible or safe to do, in which case they shoot at the body and even then they mostly manage to miss the heart by not aiming at it, but a single bullet is usually sufficient. Just compare that with the average of five lethal body shots by the American police. America, nice place to stay away from. And that is besides the stunts the Border Security Goons pull at the airports.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hostage situations...

A few years ago I seriously messed up my back. As a result of this there are times when I cannot lift my hands above shoulder height for more than a few minutes. I guess I'd be dead man walking if I ever encounter a nervous American cop.

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Re: Hollywood bollocks

@A.P. Veening, NO, Dutch police are NOT trained to shoot at the legs. If the decision is made to shoot it is up to the discretion of the officer to attempt to incapacitate, but it is NOT specifically practiced and it is NOT policy. If a police officer decides to use a deadly weapon it's usually with the full intend to remove an immediate and deadly threat. And doing that requires deadly force. The difference is that in the Netherlands (and most of the rest of the world) officers are trained to shoot once or twice and assess the effect. Not for everyone present to unload their weapon into the person. Being shot once or twice (even in the torso) can be quite survivable if first aid is started immediately (also a standard in the Netherlands). In the US the standard seems to be for the victim of a police shooting to have atleast 6 to 8 rounds in them and for them to then be handcuffed, manhandled and left to bleed and choke to death while the police officers stand around. I doubt many of them are even trained in first aid. (Again, a standard in most of the civilized world)

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Chz

Re: Hostage situations...

There are some exceptions (someone mentioned the Dutch police), but it is generally true that once the decision has been made to apply deadly force, then the officers are instructed to do exactly that. The problem is with how liberally the decision to apply that force is taken in the United States.

Their northern neighbours need to fill out a small notebook worth of forms every time they so much as draw their firearm. This is to enforce the rule that you do not draw your firearm unless you fully intend to use it. And any situation that requires the use of deadly force should generate a lot of paperwork. This rolls back now to the issue of "shoot to wound" - abandoning such notions is to protect the officer. We have to assume that a trained officer of the law (well, outside of the US) will not draw their weapon unless it is needed, and if it is needed they must go for the shot that provides the greatest chance to disable, or indeed kill the threat. Shoot for the torso. It makes sense.

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Anonymous Coward

"are trained to shoot at the legs"

Far more chances to miss, while aiming you lose sight of what hands are doing, and the target could still fire back, while you can still kill someone if the femoral artery is rescinded. You can aim at the belly, you will surely incapacitate your target, and it may not die immediately, but surviving after such kind of wounds, especially with bullets fired by a combat weapon, is usually not nice, because a lot of internal organs will suffer big damages, and if the bullet hits the spine, even worse.

Sure, if you're a sniper and have time to aim from a secure position, it's an option.

The issue here is there was no evidence of a weapon, but unluckily the call said he had already murdered, so I'm afraid they incorrectly implied it was armed. And I'm also afraid SWAT teams are trained to apply lethal force to eliminate threats as soon a chance occurs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hands up, drop to my knees, hit the ground and spread-eagle.

I hate to say this, but there's been at least one incident, when a person (innocent) was shot by police AFTER they put the hands up. Or did _exactly_ what the police pointing a gun at him / her asked them to do.

Of course, humans make mistakes and go crazy, and such cases are extremely rare (arguably, there might be at least one more, or dozens or even hundreds of potential murderers walking the streets in police uniforms around the world, who haven't shot an innocent person - yet), and but still that case made me pretty uneasy. I mean, you would expect to live for following the law (directly and literally), instead of getting a bullet from a "law-enforcement" officer.

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Re: Hollywood bollocks

Complementary data:

In 2017, cops in Netherland shot at 23 people, killing 4 (1 for 4,250,000 inhabitants). At the same time, around 1,000 people were killed by cops in the US (1 for 325,000 inhabitants).

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Re: Hostage situations...

Put yourself in the cops shoes.

What would you've done if you get a 911 call regarding a hostile hostage situation, you go out to try to defuse that situation.

Whilst I take your point, and they are in a bit of a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't position, the fact is the number of swatting calls is now sufficiently high that there's a very good chance a hostage call is swatting. It's to the point where Seattle PD has an anti-swatting register where you can sign up if you think you might be "at risk". It's part of "SMART911" where you can also pre-register that residents at an address are perhaps deaf or have some other impediment, so officers can make more informed decisions if someone appears not to be complying with (say) spoken instructions.

The appropriate response in all cases is "Trust but Verify". Any competent police officer should be following their ABCs - Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody and Consider all possibilities.

There is actually bodycam footage of the Andrew Finch shooting and there is no officer within 30metres of him. The cars are all parked on the far side of the street.

No officer can possibly say that they had a clear view of his hands or that he posed an "Imminent Threat to Life" (which is the one and only scenario is which it is ever appropriate to deploy lethal force).

The only statement they can possibly give is "We had a call about a murder-hostage situation. We didn't know if there were hostages, we just had a guy stood in the doorway of his house who we assumed was the hostage taker so we shot him because he lowered his hands momentarily in the confusion."

That simply isn't sufficient. Had they tried calling the house? Speaking with the subject calmly? Establishing whether there were any actual hostages? No?

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Re: Hostage situations...

"Of course you'll have to ASSUME that ANYBODY walking out of the door is part of the hostile party, and if said person do things quite contrary to your orders (dropping hands when ordered to place his/her hands up) you'll shoot, questions asked later"

Congratulations, you just murdered the hostage who was sent out to talk, while the criminal keeps him at gunpoint while remaining hidden.

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