first published on November 28, 2017 by Will
A policewoman negotiator shoots a robbery suspect four times after he wounded multiple people with scissors and took a woman hostage on a street in Guangzhou, China. This video dates back to 2010 and stirred up controversy on how the situation was handled and the use of deadly force.
According to reports, the suspect had unsuccessfully attempted to rob a man with a pair of scissors prior to this video being shot. Although he didn’t get away with any cash, he did injure the victim with the scissors before fleeing the scene.
Officers caught up to the suspect and cornered him, and that is when he took a random young woman hostage. The standoff continued on for sometime as SWAT and police officers secured the surrounding area. During the standoff, the desperate hostage taker managed to lacerate the terrified woman’s bicep area, and blood can be seen pouring down her arm and legs.
Eventually, a policewoman negotiator arrives at the scene. With her she brings a bottled beverage to appease the suspect, but she also uses it to distract him while she makes her move. She begins speaking with the man and then throws the bottle awkwardly toward him and it falls to the ground.
The suspect reaches out with his foot to retrieve the bottle and distractedly begins looking around. That’s when the police officer strikes. She produces a pistol hidden in her waistline as she closes the distance between herself and the hostage taker.
She fires a shot that appears to luckily strike the offender and he and the hostage fall backward into the doorway. At that point, the officer steps over the suspect and fires three more shots which turn out to be fatal, as the suspect dies at the scene.
The video is intense and the officer’s actions, at first glance, may appear to be heroic, but in actuality, were incredibly reckless, and her “success” had a lot to do with luck. No amount of training could justify or mitigate the risk to the hostage in this situation. Firing a pistol from that distance at a target that small and unpredictably moving while so near the hostage’s head is absolutely insane. Yet, in this situation, it worked out.
The next issue is one of great controversy. Were the following three shots the officer took after the suspect fell necessary? To some it appears that the officer ruthlessly executed the man after the situation had been reduced. To others, the suspect got what he deserved after attempting to rob a man, injuring two people with a deadly weapon, and then taking a woman hostage and threatening her life.
In an interview, the policewoman claimed, “I was afraid the suspect would continue to hurt the hostage, so I stepped forth and shot a few more shots…”
This publication will hold off on making judgements of international policing based on our own social and cultural norms as well as our perceptions of ethics and law that all hinge on where we were raised. We’ve blogged footage of police action from across the globe, including officers wildly firing at drug traffickers on busy streets in South America from helicopters and police officers firing from motorcycles at fleeing subjects in South Africa. Even here on the streets of the US, this weapon-wielding hostage taker would likely have a precisely aimed rifle round shot through his face from a well-trained police marksman.
The bottom line is that, although this was a terrible situation with an unfortunate ending, the suspect was not the victim here. Let us know what you think in the comments.