A recent policy-setting decision by the Los Angeles Police Commission (civilians with no law enforcement training), has told the LAPD to run when confronted by an armed suspect. No we didn’t make that up.
Their decision stems from a September, 2015 officer-involved shooting in which a black woman, Norma Guzman, approached two LAPD officers with a large knife. The two officers had cars on either side of them, and had no place to “run.”
“A female suspect, armed with an 8 to 9-inch knife, repeatedly ignored commands to stop, ran at the officers, and was even recorded yelling “shoot me,” all the while brandishing the knife swinging it from side to side.
In less than 10 seconds the female suspect closed a 70 foot gap to just 5 feet prompting the first officer to fire his weapon. This left only 3 seconds for the second officer to react to the threat, prompting the Commission to conclude that ‘it was reasonable for Officer C to believe, in the moment when the use of force occurred, that the subject would imminently assault him with the knife.’“
“Redeploy” to “create distance”
The Chief of Police agreed with his officer’s decision to shoot her. But the Commission ruled that even though the officer was justified in feeling threatened, he should have “redeployed” to “create distance.”
The officer commanded her to drop the knife 6 times as she advanced toward them, according to his body camera that was not released publicly. The woman shouted “Shoot me!” just before the fatal shot.
Guzman had been diagnosed as mentally ill previously, and family members say the officers should have known she was “harmless.” There are hundreds of examples where a mentally ill person is not harmless. And especially not when someone is carrying an 8 to 9 inch knife.
The only way these officers could have “re-deployed” to “create distance” would have been to jump in their car and drive away – IF there was time to do that. From the video, it appears there were only seconds in which to make that decision.
“You can save your life or you can save your job, but you can’t do both.” Jamie McBride, Director of the LAPD Police Union