Police

What's the Matter with Police Using Robots to Kill?

The first known "death by police robot" in Dallas raises ethical questions.

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bomb robot
Jaromír Chalabala/Dreamstime.com

The Dallas PD's use of a "bomb robot" to take out cop-killer Micah Xavier Johnson is believed to be the first use of such machinery to deliver lethal munitions by police in the U.S.

Details were spare and slow to emerge in the first few days after the tragedy, but here's what we know now:

  • The Dallas robot is manufactured by Northrop Grumman, and per the Washington Post, "the device is driven by a human via remote control, weighs 790 pounds and has a top speed of 3.5 mph. It carries a camera with a 26x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom. When its arm is fully extended, it can lift a 60-pound weight. The "hand" at the end of the arm can apply a grip of about 50 pounds of force."
  • The robot was armed with an approximately one pound brick of C4 plastic explosive.
  • Dallas Police Chief David Brown reportedly instructed the robot's handlers to not blow up the school attached to the parking garage where Johnson was holed up (and intermittently negotiating and exchanging fire with officers), but otherwise the chief gave them the green light to use deadly force. 
  • Upon the robot's detonation of the C4, Johnson was killed and the robot's arm suffered some damage, but the machine is "still functional," the Post quotes Brown as saying.

Johnson had shot both police and civilians, was clearly unafraid to die, and continued to fire on the officers in his vicinity. Few would argue that this is a case where the justifiable use of deadly force was deployed. But it is completely predictable that such an unprecedented action by police would spur conversation about when it is and isn't appropriate to use automated machinery to kill dangerous suspects. 

From the national security website Defense One:

"My initial reaction was that we have just got onto the slippery slope," said Heather Roff, a senior research fellow at Oxford and a research scientist at Arizona State University's Global Security Initiative. "This is going to be very hard to put back and that the militarization of police capabilities means that they may now feel that it is reasonable to use robotics in this way to ensure compliance…If one doesn't have to talk to a subject and can demand compliance, then this may mean more forceful or coercive demands are made."

Police consultant and former police chief Dan Montgomery told CBS News that the possibility of law enforecement increasingly using armed robots in hostage or active-shooter situations doesn't necessarily trouble him, because "If you've got a robot that has C4 explosives, someone's got to detonate that, so it's the same as pulling a trigger." To Montgomery, these robots are just a technological advance on the sniper rifle, where deadly force can be deployed at minimal risk to officers. 

At the very least, if such technology is to be normalized, some clear boundaries and transparency must come with it as well. For example, if a robot controlled by a human has the technical capabilities to kill a dangerous assailant by blowing up a brick of C4 and still be functional — as in the case of the Dallas bomb robot —  then there's no reason that same robot can't also be equpped with several "body cameras" (to capture different angles and provide the most comprehensive perspective of the scene) which record directly to the cloud, helping to assuage any public doubts about the neccessity of deadly force used, as well as keeping mishaps like non-functioning or misplaced recordings to minimum.

According to the manufacturer, the model of robot used in Dallas had a camera, but the Dallas PD has made no mention of whether or not the robot was recording during the standoff or at the time it killed Johnson. Reason reached out to the Dallas PD to find out whether or not there is bomb robot-recorded footage of last week's siege which ended in Johnson's death, and we will update this post if we receive a response. 

A robot designed to defuse bombs instead being used to deploy one was bound to be controversial, and given that few would have anticipated MRAPs being used to serve drug warrants when SWAT teams made their debut in the 1967, it's important for the public to stay vigilant and demand accountability when the police grant themselves the right to use a particularly deadly new tool. 

Watch Reason TV's video on "7 Creepy Robots for Cops" below:

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  1. The shooter deserved it, but this was categorically wrong.

    1. I really don’t see where a bright line between this and a predator drone would be.. it flies?? Then due process fades away as they will just say they were trying to apprehend and the suspect gave no choice and was endangering the community more by not droning them

      1. I don’t think drones are used to bomb criminal suspects who are surrounded by cops and a minimal threat to anyone.

  2. My main objection was that most news reports stated that he was killed “by a robot” instead of “with a robot”

    1. They’ve already granted agency to guns, why not robots?

      1. The robot suddenly discharged. Deaths occurred.

        1. The robot suddenly discharged.

          So it shit itself?

          1. BEEP BOOP THPHTHTHPHT

      2. COMMON SENSE ROBOT CONTROLS!!

    2. I also don’t think “automated” is the correct term for driving this type of robot.

    3. He wasn’t even killed *with* one. He was killed by a tele-operated device – a drone.

      Not as bad as constantly calling an APC a ‘tank’ but precision is preferred.

  3. What’s the Matter with Police Using Robots to Kill?

    Uh, a quick argument which the media might grok is, “If you have the level of control necessary to ‘remote kill’ someone, you probably have the level of control necessary to ‘remote incapacitate’ someone as well, and therefore the choice to kill is an arbitrary one and in effect, “Govt execution”

    Its not the kind of scenario where a gunman has hostages and needs to be shot by a sniper. If he’s been cornered and isolated, he could be gassed, or blinded, or some other combination, and then apprehended. Killing him was a decision police should not have had the discretionary authority to make.

    1. What about a flying robot which shoots tranquilizer darts?

      I’m actually asking out of curiosity, not being an expert in such matters.

      1. What about a flying robot which shoots tranquilizer darts?

        I wasn’t proposing other fictitious technology. My point was that if you’ve got a suspect cornered and unable to move out of his position, and you already have a robot – the decision to use 1lb of C4 instead of some less-than-lethal element is by definition a discretionary choice to kill someone.

        I have no doubt the argument made to pre-empt this observation is some false-choice, which says, “it was either kill him, or engage in an endless siege with unknown outcome; expediency demanded he be neutralized ASAP”

        I think the point needs to be made that there is a big-difference between military tactics and policing tactics – and the latter should always be looking for options which the former would by default ignore. My concern is that people simply accept that they’re “The Same”

        1. Agreed. It’s also arbitrary, given the capabilities of the robot, to choose either to record no video, or hide/destroy/alter any video that might have been taken.

          Also, about the flash-bang grenade that blinded the baby: pretty sure that was also condemned widely here, but thanks for playing. Due process is like free speech: it’s not just for likeable people.

    2. Good nuance, nee.

      If he was making credible bomb threats, I can see going for the kill, regardless of what device you use. Killing him is instantaneous. Incapacitating him would have a higher risk that he could function enough for a few seconds to trigger a bomb.

      1. Agreed. Was there some immediate threat that wasn’t present for the last several hours or were they pissed and tired of dealing with the guy.

      2. If I recall, it was stated that it took 20 to 30 minutes to acquire explosives and set up the system to remote detonate them. Then some amount of time was spent maneuvering the robot into place. This occurred after hours of failed negotiations.

        I have read no statements, official or otherwise, that the police informed the shooter that they would blow him up if he did not surrender immediately.

        There was no gun pointed at the head of a hostage requiring a split-second decision to shoot or not shoot the bad guy. This was the orderly execution of the shooter by the police, because they believed there was no point into continuing to negotiate.

        The shooter deserved what he got. Unfortunately, lady liberty got fucked in the ass by the process.

        1. This occurred after hours of failed negotiations.

          I eagerly await the heavily-redacted transcripts

        2. He went in for the purpose of killing cops. They tried to negotiate but he apparently had no desire to turn himself in. Pretty reasonable to say he was going to kill more given an opportunity to confront the cops. So any non-lethal method could just as well ended in him trying to go out in a blaze of glory to kill. Warning him 5 minutes to death could have had the same result. Sitting on their ass could just as well as resulted in the same and then all the navel gazers around here would ask why they didn’t take him out knowing he was intent on killing.

          This is the libertarian equivalent of all PIV is rape lunacy.

          1. This is the libertarian equivalent of all PIV is rape lunacy.

            Fuck off

          2. Sitting on their ass could just as well as resulted in the same and then all the navel gazers around here would ask why they didn’t take him out knowing he was intent on killing.

            Cytotoxic? Is that you?

            Anyway… thanks for making your position clear. If someone is a threat to the police, it doesn’t matter to you whether that threat is imminent or not. You’re ok with the police killing someone who may have the legal defense of insanity because the suspect has, at some time in the past, shown themselves to be a threat.

            The questions of why the police, who constantly demand our respect for being willing to bear risk on our behalf, could not be asked to bear this risk (from behind ballistic shields.. there was a SWAT team on site…) and why their not bearing this risk is necessarily worth the life of the shooter and why they get to decide, in the moment and on the scene.. pure academic lunacy!

            Kill him first and don’t ask questions later!

            It’s so WEIRD how the police just HAVE to come up with innovative ways to kill suspected cop killers without a trial, even if they’re in a cabin in the woods surrounded by a 3 mile perimeter.

          3. This is the libertarian equivalent of all PIV is rape lunacy.

            No, it’s not.

        3. 2 hours.

      3. “If he was making credible bomb threats”

        Uh, I’m not sure blowing up the guy who might have unknown explosives is a SAFE idea…

          1. Police use this one trick to prevent diabetes.

        1. Yes, it is a good idea. Because you can control when the explosives next to him go off, as opposed to other methods where you have to worry about anyone you send in after him/his body getting blown to kingdom come. You set off the explosion and you can pull everyone to a safe perimeter beforehand.

          1. No you can’t.

            Because you if you don’t know for sure that he has explosive you sure as shit do not know how much and how powerful any he has may be.

            Using a det charge to force detonation is done when you’ve isolated the explosives and know what is there and where. You don’t randomly blow a pound of C-4 in the vicinity and hope for the best.

      4. It was basically the same as taking him out by sniper.

      5. But we heard at the time that there were multiple shooters. Killing him means you can’t ask him about his accomplices. Supposedly he had already said he was working alone, but you just believe him?

        1. And if he planted bombs, maybe he could tell you where they were, if he lived.

    3. I eagerly await the first robotic panic fire death.

    4. Good point. Surely the ‘bot could have been rigged with loads of tear gas or smoke that police thermal sights could see though. I guess the justification may have been that this was simply more expedient, but do the cops really have C4 more readily at hand than tear gas?

      Or has there been some indication that the shooter had protective gear?

      1. Hell, could have just had the robot bump into him over and over while playing ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

  4. Honestly, I don’t get the pants-crapping on this one.

    He was killed by a machine operated by a person. A rifle is also a machine operated by a person. How is this different than having a sniper put one through his skull?

    As noted, there is a big difference between sending an autonomous machine after him (killed “BY” a robot) v sending a remotely operated machine after him (killed “WITH” a robot).

    1. How is this different than having a sniper put one through his skull?

      Its not. The question is simply why that option is chosen when others may have been available.

    2. “Our remote-controlled robot monitoring the suspect, if he does anything threatening I’ll activate the weapon the robot is holding…oops, time for my lunch break, I’ll just put the robot on autopilot while I’m away…”

      Hey, this sounds like the beginning of a bad action/sci-fi movie!

    3. “He was killed by a machine operated by a person. A rifle is also a machine operated by a person”

      Agreed, the authority to kill is the issue; whether they choke the guy, use a pistol, rifle or robot is secondary.

      1. right, I think the real argument here was if the guy still presented enough of a public threat for further harm that killing him was justified at that point.

        Given they had him trapped and pinned in; maybe not.

        The argument by police should never be “He needed killing.”

    4. Agree. The question is was the use of deadly force justified under the scenario as it was. The means is not entirely relevant. It is an oddly Luddite sensibility on display here.

    5. I think we should more concerned with cops having yet another lethal tool to abuse.

      “The suspect would not answer the door at 3 AM. We deployed the robot and the house exploded. The suspect expired as a result of his resistance.”

    6. How is this different than having a sniper put one through his skull?

      It’s not. Sniping a person under the same set of described circumstances would also strike me as potentially inappropriate.

    7. While I agree that what happened to this individual was deserved, I think legitimate questions can and should be asked on whether using robotics lethally will be used much more often than required given the relative safety with which it can be used.

      Example: using a SWAT for no-knock warrants against very low level drug dealers would’ve been unthinkable 30 years ago, now they are commonplace and the reasoning is always “saftey”.

      So why are we to think that 30 years from now, lethal force by robots won’t become more standard given how much safer it is?

  5. I’m inclined to agree that the robot was just a tool, like any other weapon, and there’s no more “ethical” issue raised by this than by any other use of deadly force at a distance.

    The bigger questions raised by this for me lie in:

    1) The police use of a “weapon of mass destruction” (i.e., a bomb). Whether delivered by a robot or thrown by a human, a bomb is an imprecise weapon, and there’s always increased risk of “collateral damage” to humans or property.

    2) The diminished peripheral senses and situational awareness of a drone/robot operator in a context like this. Would the operator reliably have seen hostages or wounded or volatile or explosive materials within the blast radius? Does the appeal of limiting risk to the police tend to make them less conscious of such risks?

  6. I knew all the politicians have read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and interpreted the book as an instruction manual. Now the cops are watching Verhoeven’s Robocop and interpreting the movie as an instructional video.

    1. “Thank you for your cooperation. Goodnight.”

    2. Domo arigato Officer Roboto

    3. So this whole “militarization” thing cops are doing is just ’cause we won’t give them that sweet automatic pistol thing Robocop used??

  7. If you are worried about police using robots to kill, then admit people who are worried about the public having “assault rifles” have a point. Either you believe in human agency or you don’t. I care about when and under what circumstances the police kill someone. I really don’t give a shit if they do it with a robot, a rifle or a jeweled scimitar. But I believe in human agency. i would advice the author of this article to do the same.

    1. My concern isn’t the method, but the choice to kill, as The Artist Formerly Known as GILMORE pointed out above.

    2. Police need rules of engagement same as soldiers. In this case the remote controlled device was being used for a goal contrary to its primary purpose, which is ordinance disposal. This is concerning since it sets a precedent and we all know how there are no lines the state won’t eventually cross.

      Not to mention blowing someone up is a pretty barbaric way to kill. Would you also be okay if the cops had used a fire hose to dose him with oil and then set him on fire? How about for the next hostile suspect they have cornered somewhere?

      1. No. police need rules for the use of force. Police use force. They don’t engage. There is a big difference. And sure, the police need to have a proper framework for how they apply force. Whether that force is applied by a robot or a tazer or whatever else is really not important.

        If you think blowing the guy up was barbaric, he has only himself to blame. The guy shot a dozen people and was holed up with explosives threatening to kill more. I don’t think the police owed risking theirs or anyone’s life or safety to give this guy a humane death, whatever that is.

        1. If you think flaying the guy an inch of skin per day, doing the most to keep him alive as long as possible, until he eventually expires was barbaric, he has only himself to blame.

          1. I thank you for the badass image of a cop with a jeweled scimitar, but really the method of execution IS important, ESPECIALLY where collateral damage is a possibility. I don’t really think the crimes of any one person justify ANY kind of death.

            1. I don’t really think the crimes of any one person justify ANY kind of death.

              Then your opinion on such matters isn’t really of any value outside of a pacifist circle jerk. Just be thankful you’ve got armed friends and neighbors that do.

            2. I thank you for the badass image of a cop with a jeweled scimitar

              I wish I could draw…

        2. Whether that force is applied by a robot or a tazer or whatever else is really not important.

          I concede my imprecise phrasing with regard to engagement and use of force but this I do not agree with. Detonating an explosive device is very different in terms of collateral damage and terror then using a sniper’s bullet.

        3. You want the police to start using explosives? Really?

          We’ve now set a precedent, but I’m sure they won’t abuse their power. They’ve been pretty chill for the last decade or so.

          1. It’s that new professionalism that we can all rely on.

          2. You want the police to start using explosives?

            That’s kind of already happened before. The novelty in this case is the robot, not the bomb.

    3. “jeweled scimitar”

      SCIMITAR-COP

      Could make for a great 80’s action movie…

      1. I’m pretty sure that’s already a franchise in Hong Kong.

        1. There is already Samurai Cop, which is a legendarily bad movie about a… Samurai Cop.
          Example :

          I want his head on this piano!

          “Scimitar Cop” writes itself! We could make it a female-cop buddy picture and name the Scimitar Cop “Jewel!”

    4. I trust people, I don’t trust the government.

    5. I really don’t give a shit if they do it with … a jeweled scimitar.

      That would be fucking sweet!

      1. Cop fighting evildoers with a scimitar…

        Abu Azrael??

          1. Meh, the angel Azrael’s more interesting than the comic book character. The dude’s thousands and thousands of feet tall AND MADE OF NOTHING BUT TONGUES AND EYEBALLS.

            1. We already have Warty, thanks.

    6. If you are worried about police using ICBMs to kill, then admit people who are worried about the public having “assault rifles” have a point. Either you believe in human agency or you don’t. I care about when and under what circumstances the police kill someone. I really don’t give a shit if they do it with a bomb, a rifle or an intercontinental ballistic missile. But I believe in human agency. i would advice the author of this article to do the same.

      Now obviously, the problem with my above modified-John paragraph is that an ICBM will result in massive collateral damage to property and potential bystanders that using a rifle simply will not result in.

      Now realize that the problem with the police using a bomb is the same as the problem with the police using an ICBM, albeit on a smaller scale, the potential for collateral damage is still too high to be a justified method of subduing a criminal.

      1. damage to private property should be avoided.
        better for them to have used a neutron bomb instead of C4.
        It’s nice and quick and clean and gets things done
        Away with excess enemy
        But no less value to property
        No sense in war but perfect sense at home

    7. Police use of robots is problematic. If I am sniping a shooter, then we both have a gun and I am potentially close enough for the suspect to shoot me. Imminent threat is always possible if I am close enough to shoot. A robot, however, is capable of killing from a distance great enough to eliminate any probable threat to the operator.

      If the area was clear enough to detonate a pound of C-4 and no one could just shoot him, then there was most likely no imminent threat. They could have just waited him out and had their robot waiting by the exit if he tried to leave.

  8. Before claiming world’s first, I’d look to see if Russia hadn’t used something like this before. If anyone besides Americans would do it, it would be the Russians.

    1. They’ve done some interesting stuff with gas.

        1. Huh. I thought they used carfentanil. Good stuff for dental surgery on elephants.

      1. What’s a few dead children in a theater full of chechnyan terrorists?

        Omelet making is hard.

      2. You know who else….nope, can’t do it.

  9. So, from what I read, the police were able to follow him to this parking structure because they wounded him and they were able to follow the trail of blood that he left on the ground.

    If he’s bleeding badly enough that there was a trail, chances are that he wouldn’t even be conscious by sunrise.

    They had him cornered, he was wounded, and they chose to blow him up with a brick of C-4.

    Unless they saw him holding a remote detonator, I kind of have a problem with that.

    1. My god, man! It’s like you’ve never seen a movie.

      DEAD MAN SWITCH. It is known.

      1. So… they killed a guy holding a dead man switch….

        1. Look, robots were deployed, suspects were subdued. It just happens.

          1. Procedures weren’t followed in this case, but the new procedures can now be written.

    2. they were able to follow the trail of blood that he left on the ground.

      I have it on good Internet Authority that waiting him out would have been TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

  10. Are law enforcement officers going to feel the same rush of adrenaline sending a robot crashing through doors and lobbing grenades into cribs without them? I can’t see it.

    And I think we can all agree the coolest robot was the one from the television show Lost in Space.

      1. I don’t remember Johnny Five ever stopping a pedophile, but then I didn’t see all the Police Academy movies.

        1. He just stopped a bunch of jewel thieves and became an American citizen. I guess that’s not good enough for you.

        2. Stopping? Don’t you mean enabling?

          Note: No sane person has ever seen all the Police Academy movies.

          Causation or correlation? Nobody can be sure. It’s like looking a Schroedinger’s cat.

          1. I only recognize the Guttenberg films.

            1. His bibles were supposedly the best.

          2. Are they still making them? There’s like 15 Police Academies on Netflix that i’d never heard of before.

          3. No sane person has ever seen all the Police Academy movies.

            (starts to speak up, but my Invisible Sidekick, Steve Gutenberg shakes his head and mouths, “they’re not ready to understand”)

    1. Robot B9 is in my view less-significant than “Robby” from Forbidden Planet…

      1. Robby’s ears were asymmetrical. It was an obvious design flaw.

        1. Robby later showed up on ‘Lost in Space’ as an evil robot.

          1. You’re telling me like I don’t know?

    2. THIS UNIT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE INFERIOR BEINGS. EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!!!

      1. Is this Dr. Who? Because I don’t watch science fiction.

    3. No love for the Austin Powers Fem-Bots?

  11. What I find most disturbing about this is that the cops have access to C-4.

    1. The only way to dispose of IEDs is to blow them up. Bomb squads have access to bombs to blow up bombs.

      1. Yep.

        Some little delinquent fucker built a pipe bomb in the building I lived in right after college. They had to evacuate 280 units and blow it up. I got some nice new windows out of the deal.

    2. The bomb disposal units in most Sheriff’s departments have an ATF license for explosives so they can use the robot to detonate suspicious or dangerous items remotely.

      Of course, the idea is to protect members of the bomb squad and the public, not kill people.

      Now I’m curious what the terms of the license are.

      1. I’m sure they’ll get a mulligan.

  12. Ctrl-F “drone”
    One match

    This isn’t new.

  13. What’s the Matter with Police Using Robots to Kill?

    This.

    1. That’s not right.

    2. I don’t see the problem. She was white.

  14. “Few would argue that this is a case where the justifiable use of deadly force was deployed.”

    Leave it to the cops to turn what is probably the most justifiable use of deadly force to come along in ages into a very real discussion about excessive force.

    1. It’s not a real discussion. It’s crackpots on the internet yelling into an echo chamber. Nobody gives a shit.

      1. Maybe I should have said concern instead of discussion.

      2. Cool story, bro.

      3. How your ghost chili pepper plants doing, Kizone?

        I heard there’s a mild drought upstate.

  15. Will the killer robot be the good Arnold Schwarzenegger robot in Terminator 2, or the evil Schwarzenegger robot in Terminator 1, or the evil molten-metal robot in Terminator 2?

    1. (I’m pretending the East European model robot in T3 didn’t happen, in fact, I’m pretending T3 didn’t happen either)

      1. I’m pretending the East European model robot in T3 didn’t happen

        GAYYY

        1. A hot chick can’t carry a bad movie by herself – or do you contend that Plan 9 From Outer Space was a good movie because it had Maila Nurmi in it?

  16. Navel gazing at its finest.

  17. Police should be accountable for their actions regardless of the tools they use when performing their job. The use of a robot raises absolutely no new ethical questions about policing, anymore than the cops using a self-driving vehicle to get from the station to the scene of a crime would.

    1. Police should be accountable for their actions regardless of the tools they use when performing their job.

      *blows dust off 2A playbook; clears throat for Archie Bunker voice*

      “Would it make you feel any better little girl if they was pushed out of windows?”

    2. what about police using a self-driving vehicle to transport a prisoner and setting it on “rough ride” mode?

  18. It’s horrible. The police instigate a war and then use robots to fight it. The military does the same with ISIS: Assad and Russia bomb them out of Damascus and then we drone them while they are fleeing. No wonder they hate us. We learned it from the best.

        1. G.O.L.E.M.

          Giant Organic Lepto-Electronic Mechanoid

  19. Prediction:

    Now that they’ve gotten away with this, cops are going to do it a lot more. As it becomes more common, suspects are going to start doing it more frequently too.

    Bombs are the next big thing.

    1. You’re predicting a boom in bombings?

      1. Explosive growth in the marketplace.

      2. You’re predicting a minkey with a bimb?

  20. New Black Panthers Plan Armed March on GOP Convention

    he New Black Panther Party, a “black power” movement, will carry firearms for self-defense during demonstrations in Cleveland ahead of next week’s Republican convention if allowed under Ohio law, the group’s chairman said.
    ….
    “If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our second amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us,” Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters in an interview.

    1. If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our second amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us”

      Clearly this is a well-organized group.

      1. Hashim Nzinga aint need your googlesplaining

  21. After negotiating with him, the police might have come to the determination there was a high likelihood this guy would end up in a mental institution for the rest of his life, not in the chair. They wanted revenge — the chief was probably feeling the pressure from the ranks — so the choice was made to kill him instead of trying non-lethal methods to capture him.

    1. The police chief said he was delusional.

      1. Self diagnosis?

      2. Self diagnosis?

  22. Why didn’t they put their phasers on stun?

    1. Something else Roddenberry got wrong.

      Why would police use ‘stun’, when ‘disintegrate’ is just two clicks away.

      1. It’s worth noting that after returning home from the service, Roddenberry was a cop.

  23. When you have a crime with huge political implications, it’s all the more important to take the suspect alive, no matter how dangerous.

    Right now, all we know is what the Dallas Police have told us. I’d rather hear from the suspect himself, either through his lawyer, or during the trial.

    I really doubt that Dallas PD will ever release the recordings of their negotiations with the suspect. So we’re stuck taking their word for it. The suspect’s motives are whatever the Police say they are.

    1. When you have a crime with huge political implications, it’s all the more important to take the suspect alive, no matter how dangerous.

      Fuck you Playa.! Don’t you know that he killed 5 law enforcement officers? There was no time for all that due process shit. Christ! Don’t you know there’s a race war going on? And you’re going to whine about the Dallas PD dispensing street justice to some thug?

    2. You think the LAPD wanted to take Dorner alive?

        1. Hadn’t heard that audio. Thanks for that.

          Ironically, the device they threw into the house is known as a “burner.”

  24. It’s not the robot, but the bomb. The next thing they will want is frag grenades. Officer safety and all that.

    1. That’ll be the justification, yeah. Which will make it so much more ironic whenever a Hero In Blue blows himself or his buddies up by accident.

  25. They’re preparing us psychologically for the advent of domestic drone strikes. That’s really the only trial balloon that has not yet flown.

    Padilla – indefinite detention of Americans without due process.
    Awlaki – murder of Americans overseas by drone, two weeks later his son, murder of underage Americans overseas.
    Johnson – targeted killing of American criminal by robot.
    ??? – domestic drone strike of known “bad guy”

    Prediction: In less than five years we will see Predator drones snuffing Americans on American soil.

    1. Prediction: In less than five years we will see Predator drones snuffing Americans on American soil.

      Prediction: Drones will still kill innocent people and do so in a racially-lopsided manner, even drones operated by members of the ‘oppressed demographic’.

      1. Agreed. The guy you’re trying to kill is so dangerous that collateral damage to surrounding houses is acceptable. Hell, if they can justify flash-banging a baby for drugs, just imagine what they’ll justify if they have a “domestic terrorist” holed up in some neighborhood in Ferguson or Schaumburg or Overland Park.

    2. That’s about the same timeframe as my prediction that smart roads are going to connect your car to your bank account – the car knows what the speed limit is and how fast you’re driving and every time you turn or change lanes without signalling and your car’s going to issue you a ticket right on the spot by autodrafting it right out of your bank account.

      1. Insurance companies already have something like that where they install GPS in your car:

        http://www.washingtontimes.com…..acy-cost-/

        1. Yes, but insurance agents don’t carry guns. And since my lead foot and need for speed have been involved in all of 1 accident in 25 years (in which I had the right of way and my eyes on the road, the other driver did not and had their eyes on their phone), I am pretty sure I can negotiate a reasonable rate without putting the Big Brother device in my car.

          1. Point taken. Although I know one who sells renters/fire/flood in some pretty sketchy neighborhoods who is definitely packing.

    3. I’m surprised they didn’t send in an armed drone to take this guy out.

  26. “Johnson had shot both police and civilians, was clearly unafraid to die, and continued to fire on the officers in his vicinity. Few would argue that this is a case where the justifiable use of deadly force was deployed.”

    Yeah, only those who favor that limit on government action called ‘due process’.
    There were several options available to avoid summary execution.

  27. In a free society, you should always strongly question every time the police kill someone.

  28. The problem with robots being deployed as police is that people can’t have the means to defend themselves against police robots.

    Talk about asymmetrical warfare!

    Daryl Gates used to use tanks to serve search warrants. Same kind of problem.

    Here’s a photo of the LAPD “battering ram” serving a search warrant along with what’s left of the house afterwards.

    http://framework.latimes.com/2…..ering-ram/

    And people wonder why there were riots?

    1. The “Rescue LAPD” sign on the back is a nice touch.

  29. There’s also the problem that these robots had been used in the past to negotiate and descalate tense and dangerous situations, that’s all out the window now. Just like after 9/11 hijackers are confronted no one will trust a police robot again.

  30. Johnson had shot both police and civilians, was clearly unafraid to die, and continued to fire on the officers in his vicinity. Few would argue that this is a case where the justifiable use of deadly force was deployed.

    Count me among those “few.”

    To me the key is what happens after the four hour long negotiations break down. From what I can tell, no one is harmed from the time that they have him cornered, for four hours, and including when he was killed.

    The police’s statement suggests that they killed him in this manner in order to avoid exposing themselves to risk. Which seems to mean that they were operating the robot from a position of safety, and were not facing an imminent threat.

    I went into this in great detail in another thread. Not in a huge rush to re-hash, but to me the issue is imminence.

    tl;dr – I don’t trust the police when they say that they were facing an imminent threat, because their own statement says they were safe. The guy was not a terminator and could have been waited out… or they could have even TRIED non-lethal methods.

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