Taking the easy way out

November 19, 2009

“Deadly Force” sounds like the title of the next Dirty Harry movie, with an 80-year-old Clint Eastwood wielding his familiar .44 Magnum against a gang of hoods littering the city streets.

Last week that scenario wasn’t too far from the real-life truth when a SWAT team shot and killed an armed gunman who refused to surrender after a standoff in a Ventura industrial complex.

There’s been an outrage online as people are battling each other on both sides of the issue. Did police use too much force? Or did the gunman, who had a history of violent outbursts, give the cops just cause?

Daniel Chilson, 34, was said to be a threatening person, served with restraining orders from his family, and combined with his troubled past, antagonized police with a pellet gun that looked damn real when compared side by side with a 9mm, as displayed in a police photo released yesterday.

Police had no way of knowing from several yards out that Chilson’s weapon wasn’t a real handgun, and that’s why some people believe that pumping 10 bullets into him, courtesy of three SWAT officers, was a bit too much firepower.

After all, three on one doesn’t exactly sound like a fair fight, even if Chilson was armed with a high-powered assault rifle.

Some may say that the cops, given their reputation in U.S. history for police brutality, took the easy way out. Shoot lots of rounds first, and ask questions later … that is, if your assailant is still breathing.

But if you ask me (and if you looks at the particulars of the story), Chilson was the one who took the easy way out. He had it coming, and he was asking for it.

Call it “suicide by cop.” Chilson not only egged police on, evading them for hours and taunting them by cell phone, but he threatened to kill himself and basically let police do it for him. There was no way he was going to surrender that day.

Given the fact that his BB gun wasn’t even capable of inflicting major harm, Chilson knew that if suicide was his goal, the only way to do it was to get himself shot.

And that’s exactly what he did when he spun around and began raising his weapon in the direction of police at the scene; officers who presumably have families, lives and personal safeties that they have to defend, too, responded in the only proper, procedural way they were trained.

Chilson killed himself … he just had somebody else do it for him.

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