This morning the Nugget News published a column I wrote regarding the tactical approach to resolving the Malheur Refuge takeover. The timing was mere accident. You can see it here. In the article I was deliberately not discussing the political considerations driving the decision-making process, merely the modern tactical approach to resolving an armed resistance with as little violence as possible.
Most anyone with any law enforcement experience could see the necessity, and the opportunity, to conduct a “road-kill” operation, which is a police euphemism for taking a subject away from a place where they have control over the outcome, conducting a traffic stop, and taking them into custody. In the event, this is precisely what happened.
I deliberately did not use the term road-kill in my article, and for all of the obvious reasons. And I am grateful for that, because a man is now dead, which is the worst possible outcome.
We are going to hear a lot now from dubious, or worse–completely unreliable–sources that LaVoy Finicum was in the act of surrendering when he was killed. This kind of claim is now the go-to strategy for those seeking to bolster their claims of victimhood at the hands of law enforcement.
Having conducted any number of felony traffic stops, I find it very hard to believe that Finicum was killed with his hands in the air while peacefully surrendering. That is taken straight from the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” fiction propagated post-Ferguson. It defies logic in this case, particularly in the face of Finicum’s own statements to the media, where he pronounced a willingness to die rather than face incarceration.
There is something very Tom Hornish, in Finicum’s statements, where he almost wistfully announces that he won’t trade his bedroll and his horse for a prison cell.
But it also telegraphs a big punch, and cops are trained to listen very carefully to anyone who says, “I won’t go to jail,” or “I won’t go back to jail.” It is an immediate indicator of a subject’s capacity and/or intention for violent resistance, and it informs everything that happens afterward.
I think it is more likely that Finicum presented a weapon, and was killed because of it. And it simply reeks of suicide by cop, because he must have known what was going to happen the second the overhead lights came on behind them, and that his chances of survival were virtually zero.
I have never met a cop who went to work wanting to kill someone. I suppose they exist. And I know that there are “bad” shootings–many times less than hyperbolic reports in the media would have us believe–but they do happen. They are also an inescapable outcome of enforcing laws in a nation of 350 million people, a great number of whom find it appropriate to resist arrest.
I sincerely doubt this was one of those events.
I have no love affair for the abuse of power. I have written at length in these pages about my feelings toward those whose badges weigh too much, and that nasty and arrogant cavalcade of “police executives” (a sexy new term they are using, by the way, replacing their former love affair with “police managers”) who couldn’t lead a sow to wallow. Elsewhere, I have made a mission to help highlight and change the egregious leadership failures inside my former department. Where they are wrong, I will hammer law enforcement relentlessly.
This isn’t over, and I sincerely hope that those who remain inside the Malheur Refuge don’t choose the Masada route, but rather surrender with dignity and without further bloodshed. They should come out and fight their cause in the media, and in the courts. They can’t win their current strategy, not by a long shot, and no one else needs to die.