John Correia and Mike Willever have just released their analysis of the shooting of Ta’Kiya Young by a police officer in Blendon Township, Ohio. I’ve been blogging about their commentary on police shooting videos at Active Self Protection for the past few days, and I think they’re pretty even-handed.
This incident began when two officers were helping a motorist in a Kroger parking lot. They received a radio call about a shoplifter in the store, and when they spotted Ta’Kiya Young getting into her car, they went over to investigate. She refused to get out of the car, and after a few seconds she started rolling forward toward one of the officers. He shot her once through the windshield, killing her and her unborn daughter.
John and Mike hate everything about this shooting, with Mike going so far as to suggest that officer was “daring the person to pull forward” so that he would have an excuse to shoot somebody. I have to say, it kind of looks like that to me too. The officer rushed past his partner to stand in front of her car. And as soon as she put the car in drive and cut the wheel to the right, he drew his gun and pointed it at her. When she rolled forward, he leaned in over the hood, pointed his gun straight at her face, and pulled the trigger.
The car was moving slowly, and it would have been much easier and safer to sidestep it. It looks like he did something he wanted to do.
Here’s the video and the ASP analysis:
I’ve tried to see this in a way that puts the officer in the best possible light, as a self-defense shooting, but there are some problems. It’s like that classic lethal force training hypothetical where an attacker throws a knife at you: Once he throws the knife, he is disarmed, and no longer a threat. In fact, once the knife leaves his hand, shooting him no longer has any effect on the outcome: The knife is in flight and it may kill you or not, but shooting the knife thrower won’t stop the attack, and stopping the attack is the only justification for shooting.
Similarly, once Young steps on the gas pedal and that 3000 pound car starts moving toward the cop, shooting her won’t stop it. You can see it right there in the video: Even after she’s been shot, her car keeps rolling across the lot for 20 or 30 yards until it hits a brick wall. And watching the second body-cam video in slow motion, it looks like the car contacts the officer’s body before he fires his gun. The impact is over, the shot changes nothing for the officer.
(Conversely, if Young had punched the pedal to the floor, she probably would have taken him out before he could fire at her.)
You may not agree with my analysis — I’m hardly an expert — and I guess I can understand how the officer might not have been able to think it through this way in the moment. On the other hand, John Correia has been accepted as an expert witness on lethal force, and Mike Willever has years of law enforcement experience, and they don’t like anything about this shooting.
Obviously, none of this would have happened if Ta’Kiya Young had cooperated with the cops instead of trying to drive away. But it’s also true that none of this would have happened if the cop hadn’t pulled the boneheaded move of standing in front of her car. There’s no way that’s standard practice in the Blendon Township police department. They may not have a specific rule against standing in front of a car when detaining the driver, but that’s only because they didn’t think any officer would be that stupid.
I mean, what kind of cop stands right in front of a car being driven by a suspected criminal? Maybe the kind of cop who’s hoping for an excuse.