They had to shoot him

Bolton, Vermont, the day before yesterday:

A distraught man who was pointing a pistol at his own head was shot by police as he walked toward two officers next to a busy interstate and refused repeated commands to drop the weapon, Vermont State Police said Monday.


Benjamin Gregware, 42, of Sheldon, did not point his weapon at police before he was shot three times, Birmingham said. State police Trooper Christopher Brown and an officer from the nearby Richmond Police Department fired 12 shots total at him.

It was the third fatal shooting involving Brown in the last six months. He also was involved in a nonfatal shooting several years ago, Birmingham said.

I have many questions, like “why did a cop with that much experience shooting people miss that many times, or did he hit the suicidal man three times and the other cop missed nine times?” and “this story implies heavily that Trooper Brown thinks he’s the Dirty Harry of Vermont, is that true?” But I suppose the most important question for most people would be:

Why did they feel the need to shoot a suicidal man who was no threat to them? Did they think he could shift his aim inhumanly fast and kill one of them before they had time to pull the trigger? Or did they have some half-baked idea that suicide intrudes on the state’s prerogative to decide whether its subjects live or die?

The most likely answer was that they felt they had to shoot him to keep their jobs. This is a story from the same day:

A former West Virginia police officer who was fired after not shooting a suicidal man wielding an unloaded gun has reached a settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit that has drawn national headlines.

Yes, that’s right, he was fired for not shooting a guy.

This is the sort of thing that causes snide remarks about “police culture.”

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