The news is out: [The violent scene unfolded on live television. Dozens of police officers, guns drawn, swarmed a hijacked UPS truck hemmed in by rush-hour traffic at a busy intersection. Inside the vehicle, two men suspected of armed robbery had taken the driver hostage. Outside, the officers took shots with innocent bystanders trapped in the cars in between.
It was, experts later said, a nightmare scenario.
The Thursday shootout in South Florida left four dead — the two suspects, the 27-year-old abducted UPS driver and a 70-year-old man who happened to be idling at the light on his way home from work. It also left a mountain of unanswered questions.
When St. Louis homicide sergeant Heather Taylor watched the footage, she saw police who refused to retreat — and who put innocent lives in jeopardy because of it. Instead of opening fire in the crowded intersection, she said, officers could have engaged the suspects when they had a clearer shot.
“We don’t always have to be the warrior,” said Taylor, who is also president of the Ethical Society of Police in St. Louis. “Sometimes we have to understand that retreating is O.K., you don’t always have to get the bad guy.”]
This is what happens when egos are out of control; too macho to make the right decision. Handling a situation like this is simple: the right bullet, at the right time, well aimed. That’s why you hire and train sharp shooters, and not morons shooting at everything, including innocent civilians.