Officer Benjamin Blair: No Reason To Shoot

In contrast to the facile, often nonsensical, excuses offered to justify the needless shooting, killing, someone who fails to comply with an officer’s lawful command, Wagoner, Oklahoma Officer Benjamin Blair did something remarkable.  He didn’t shoot.  He didn’t kill.

From the Wagoner Tribune:

Blair was involved in a high-speed pursuit that turned suddenly into a wild chase through the wooded area in Gibson Station. When Blair walked up on the suspect lying facedown on the ground, he drew his weapon and told the suspect to show him his hands. Instead of complying, the suspect jumped up and took off running. Blair could have very easily squeezed off a shot as a nervous reaction, or he could have emptied his clip as the suspect ran away.

But he didn’t.

Whether or not it would have been a righteous shoot is a matter for debate, as nothing in there suggests the threat of harm, either to Blair or anyone else.  But there’s no reason to have that debate, because Blair didn’t shoot.

“It’s training,” Blair said. “I’ve been on combat missions overseas and I’ve been well trained here. I noticed he wasn’t trying to swerve at other traffic during the pursuit, which is something people will do if they want to commit suicide by cop.”

Blair’s keen eye also kept his trigger finger at bay.

“When he got out of the car, I noticed he was wearing sweatpants, and that told me he probably wasn’t carrying a weapon in the waistband,” Blair said. “Then, when he jumped up, I could see his hands, he didn’t have anything in them. There was no reason to shoot. I knew all along there was the potential, but I didn’t want to shoot him.”

Notably, Blair swiftly and thoughtfully processed the information in front of him, such as the fact that the person was wearing sweatpants, which makes it essentially impossible for the guy to have a gun because the waistband won’t hold its weight.  The ability to think it through, where others might shoot first and think later, if at all, deserves praise.

Instead of loss of life, Blair, assisted by Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office deputy Aaron Torix, brought in a suspect who will live to see the proper punishment for his actions.

Officer Blair made it home for dinner that night, and the suspect lived.  This is how crime stories should end.  Well done, Officer Benjamin Blair.

H/T REvers

15 thoughts on “Officer Benjamin Blair: No Reason To Shoot

  1. REvers

    What I find to be most remarkable is that it’s now news when a cop doesn’t kill somebody when he could have.

  2. st

    Will Doug Wyllie, the editor of Police One, continue to bloviate about “deadly hesitation?”

    Both Jesse Kidder and Benjamin Blair are combat vets. They kept their cool under pressure. They could have shot, but didn’t. Perhaps they got their fill in the sandbox.

    It is nice to get something besides PTSD-afflicted cops from our wars.

    1. SHG Post author

      “Deadly hesitation” is the official way of explaining the First Rule of Policing. It wouldn’t come as a surprise for the PoliceOne gang to lay some hate on Blair for putting them all at risk by raising public expectations that they not kill first.

      1. Not Jim Ardis

        Entirely unfair expectations. After all, most cops here are years removed from actually restrictive rules of engagement. These news guys just haven’t learned How It’s Done, and just make the rest of the officer look bad.

        Those jerks.

  3. Marc R

    Doing depos and parsing police reports I’ve found that recent combat vets are actually the most restrained. In a case where several officers shot and one didn’t, I asked the other why not. He said he knew he could’ve shot and gotten away with it, he didn’t. I forgot the order of escalation but he said overseas thinking someone was holding a weapon gave you the right to draw your weapon, but unless they’re firing or it’s imminent the trigger is about to be pulled then you cannot fire. He and others I’ve spoken to are shocked at the riskier standards they have to take as an occupying force versus the unquestioned engagement domestically for police-citizen encounters. I’m sure there’s vets with pstd who shouldn’t have a badge but, on average, the combat vets seem less likely to engage an unarmed suspect with lethal force.

    1. SHG Post author

      We’ve had this exact discussion here a few times already. I agree with you, but let’s not have it again.

    1. ExCop-LawStudent

      And I suspect that you have over-estimated yours.

      I have found that military vets are far less likely to use excessive force than non-vets. This should be the norm, but unfortunately it is not, and will not be until we can change the internal culture of PDs.

      1. The Real Peterman

        What I meanis, many police departments won’t hire someone who scores highly on an IQ test. This officer either doesn’t work for a department like that or his his smarts in order to get hired.

        1. ExCop-LawStudent

          That’s not true, it’s an internet legend based on one court case where the department was looking for a reason to DQ the applicant and came up with IQ. Most departments want more intelligent officers, and many are increasing their educational requirements.

          1. OrderoftheCoif

            I spent 9 years on a police civil service commission.
            High IQ individuals do not stay in this boring job.
            And they are not happy while they try to dumb themselves down.

            1. SHG Post author

              He spent 30 years on the job before becoming a lawyer. Your nine years is very impressive, and I’m sure ECLS will appreciate learning at your knee.

  4. OrderoftheCoif

    The police can kill anyone if they just remember to say “He was reaching for his waistband” All cops know the right words.

    The US Supreme Court (police groupies, all) is responsible for this lack of restraint. See: Graham v. Connor, U.S. Supreme Court, 1989.

    1. SHG Post author

      Protip: Unless you want to get your ass kicked across the room, don’t explain the obvious. Most people here are lawyers and judges. You’re new here. Try not to make yourself the village asshole in your first comment.

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