Thursday, November 23, 2017

I Really Don't Think Coppers Had a Choice in This Situation

Fort Collins, Colorado Police asked Jeremy Holmes to drop the hunting knife he was holding more than 40 times before fatally shooting the 19-year-old man July 1 near the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, body camera footage released Tuesday shows.

Police were alerted that Holmes was walking to his brother’s residence at the Aggie Village Apartments just south of CSU’s campus with a large knife by a 911 call from Holmes’ mother. The woman reported that Holmes had left the residence after saying he was going to kill his brother and sister-in-law, who lived at the Aggie Village Apartments, and that Jeremy Holmes had struggled with mental health issues in the past.

Cops really shouldn't be afraid of body cams, if they aren't trigger happy idiots or otherwise thugs.

 The officers in the above incident were ruled justified in the shooting.


(via Breaking 911)


  1. Would a PPS police force act any different? Likely no.

    Thanks for sharing RW. Body cams are actually becoming pretty well loved by my former agency, and the surrounding jurisdictions. They're a bit of a pain (yet another thing on the belt and uniform, more paperwork, etc). Otherwise worth it. A win/win, really.

    1. It's a good question as to what would happen in Robert's PPS. I don't fully understand this concept, so am looking forward to reading Robert's promised book. From what he has said in the past, I'm not sure there would be a "PPS police force" nor a standard response, since the rules as to conduct on each piece of private property would be defined by the owner (but I'm not clear on what rules would govern if the owner didn't explicitly specify any, nor what would happen on unowned land). On some pieces of land the owner could have a low standard for use of lethal force, on others a higher standard.

    2. Absolutely. I think it's most likely the property owner, not having the time or capacity to create and enforce their own force policy, would contract with a private police provider. The private provider would likely have an industry standard for use of force.

      That use of force standard would likely be very close to modern practices. Those outlined in Tennessee vs. Garner. To paraphrase: lethal force is authorised when there is a likelihood that an individual is about to cause serious bodily injury or death to another. All other force should be just enough to safely stop a threat (e.g. taser or pepper spray to stop less serious violence). That standard certainly isn't NAP-breaking.

      Hopefully, a PPS would have a better method than today of holding private police accountable when they overuse force. I think that is likely as well.

    3. I would assume that there would be competing private police providers with different approaches to use of force, rather than one industry standard, so that property owners could choose what suits them best. And if I understand Robert's PPS correctly, the NAP is not a necessary standard. It may be that people's standards converge over time to something resembling the NAP (by mutual agreement), but I'm not sure this has to be the case.

    4. I can see that. What if the violence is cross-property? Wouldn't then the common procedure/law default to something resembling Tennessee v Garner?

      I think so. There are only so many ways you can stop a deadly threat, and that almost always involves killing the other guy.

      And, of course, when is the contract between police and consumer no longer binding? I may agree, for a price, to use only tranquilizers, even in the case of a deadly threat to you and yours. But what if the threat turns onto me? Well, my personal philosophy on force may be: you try to kill me I'll try to kill you right back.

      I don't think a market would sustain a police force that isn't rationally violent (for lack of a better word). The tranquilizer force may never get employees (or get all of their own killed)!

      Fun concept to think about. Thaks, NAPster.

  2. I disagree. There was a LOT of time here, and as the cop said, "There are tons of options." The cop could have kept his car between him and the guy with the knife. And if they had to shoot, which probably was the case, they could have shot him in the legs.

    1. The individual's movement had to be stopped to prevent him from getting away to harm others. Putting a car between you and the potential violent person makes that dangerously difficult, especially when alone (as this officer was just before the person charged). Good on the officer for putting himself between the aggressor and other potential victims. That's something to be applauded.

      Shot him in the legs? This had been shown to be ineffective in stopping deadly knife threats. The legs still tend to move. There is plenty of video evidence, and training video, to demonstrate shooting the legs is a poor option in a knife attack. Same with tasers; ineffective when life is on the line.

      I do not think a private police force interested in maintaining a reasonable level of their own safety would use such self-exposing tactics in order to save the life of a man intent on murder. Maybe there would be such a private force willing to take those risks; I doubt they'd last long.

    2. Spock, I too wondered if there were other ways to deal with this, and from the armchair it's easy to come up with other possible options against someone with a knife: tranquilizer darts, rubber bullets, trapping by net, charge with riot shields/gear, etc. (note: shooting a moving person in the legs is much harder than shooting at the center body mass).

      The officers only seemed to have two options in mind: taser and live firearm. Given that, when the attacker charged the officer preparing to taser him with the knife in hand, it didn't seem unreasonable to shoot. My bigger question is about officer mindset: should they have turned up with other options in mind so that they weren't so limited? That could be an issue of training (we hear stories all the time about how the police are increasingly ex-military, or are trained by the military, so that lethal force is their first choice), or the fact that the police get immunity all the time for use of excessive force, which creates the moral hazard that they don't feel constrained to use maximum force.

    3. The free market seems curiously incompetent and unable to come up with effective non-lethal weapons. Could this perhaps be because innovators suffer moral guilt when they think about providing services to the Govt, i.e. to the cops? Any insights, NAPpy?

    4. Just a wild guess, but I'm betting that there are not that many Rothbardians among suppliers to the state, so I'm not sure "moral guilt" is a real issue. In any event, there are plenty of non-lethal weapons available, but the suppliers cannot force the state to acquire them. Moreover, there may be more products developed if the private sector anticipated that the state had an interest in procuring them.

    5. My local agency, and all that surrounded, certainly desired effective less-than-lethal means; there just aren't any yet. I know it may be surprising, but police officers are not sociopaths, at least at the same rate as the population. Just because they can legally get away with murder doesn't mean they want to. When I was a cop, the last thing me or colleagues wanted to do was to harm anything! That included an overly rough cuffing!

      I think I was the only Rothbardian in my moderate sized agency, but I was far from the only libertarian! Many of us hated the national (and even the state level) governments.

      This is something I would wish to influence: libertarians to look to police as great potential allies. They may not go full Rothbard, but would certainly move towards minarchy. We saw the silliness of the state firsthand (and got to ignore a whole lot of crap laws while we were at it). Maybe my agency was different... A sheriff's office may have different pressures than municipal police.

      Thankful to not be an officer now, though.

    6. Sherlock, aren't "effective less-than-lethal means" relative and situational, rather than absolute? The same means, e.g. taser, could be effective in one situation and ineffective in another, either because of the situation itself, or the training or mindset of the officer. For instance, in the video, had the officer had the taser drawn rather than the pistol, maybe he could have used it effectively; because he had the pistol drawn, he had to try to switch equipment under pressure, which is when the attacker charged him (but I defer to your more relevant experience).

      As to the police generally, perhaps your group was unique/rare, and there may be many otherwise fine individuals in police departments, but it seems that too many police are willing to enforce the state's numerous victimless crimes (particularly, but not limited to, the so-called "war on drugs"). In addition, like any state personnel, the police get paid through the forcible confiscation of taxpayers' income. For those two reasons alone, as a Rothbardian I find it difficult to look favorably on the state's police as a group.

      In addition, I'd be interested to see the statistics on dismissal for misconduct among police vs. in the private sector. I suspect that police, like other state personnel, get held to a much lower standard. I've also read (I think in John Lott's work) that the rate of violent crime among police is higher than for private concealed carry permit holders.

  3. If the taser was fired and failed (which is very common), the officer is likely dead. I would never draw taser unless a backing unit already had a gun out. It's a crap sandwich.

    To your other points: agreed. I don't look kindly upon police as a group/institution. My main point is that I do see many of my former colleagues as great leads for the libertarian message.

    Or, more colloquially: hate the game, not the player!

    Thanks NAP, and our moderator RW