So many mistakes were made in this raid that I’m not sure where to begin:
In the early-morning hours, deputies knocked on 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott’s door without identifying themselves as law enforcement officers. Scott answered the door with a gun in his hand.
“When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant of that apartment was pointing a gun at deputies, and that’s when we opened fire and killed him,” Lt. John Herrell said. “Even though this subject is not the one we were looking for when he opened the door. He was pointing the gun at the deputy and if you put yourselves in the deputy’s shoes. They were there to pick up someone who was wanted for an attempted homicide.”
Officials said the deputies did not identify themselves because of safety reasons.
The police were chasing a homicide suspect who parked his motorcycle in the parking lot of an apartment complex and disappeared. In their infinite wisdom the police assumed the suspect ran into one apartment and went pounding on the door at 1:30 in the morning without so much as announcing who they were. Being a startled chap, the person living in the apartment grabbed a gun and answered the door. Upon opening the door the resident was greeted by gunfire from the officers.
In order, I’d say the first mistake was made when the police decided to play eeny meeny miny mo to decide which apartment the suspect had gone into. The second mistake was made when the police started pounding on the randomly selected door without announcing that they were, in fact, police officers. Mistake three was made by the resident, who opened the door (although this may have been irrelevant as I’ll explain in a second). Finally, the fourth mistake was made by the police who decide it was entirely OK to gun down the resident of the randomly selected apartment.
I mentioned that the fact the resident opened the door may have been irrelevant, this is because things may not have changed if he didn’t. Had the resident not opened the door the officers would have likely kicked the door in and came storming in. Upon seeing the armed resident the officers would likely have shot him dead as target identification did not seem high on their priority list. I won’t fault the resident for arming himself, I’d do the exact same thing if I heard people banging on my door at 1:30 in the morning (although I wouldn’t answer).
As far as I’m concerned the police are entirely at fault in this case. They had no way of knowing if they had selected the correct apartment, never announced they were police officers, and made no attempt to identify the person who opened the door before they opened fire. Lieutenant John Herrell tried to justify the officers’ actions by stating the resident was pointing a gun at them. That excuse doesn’t fly when the officers not only selected the apartment by little more than random chance but failed to even announce they were police officers. They claim that their failure to announce was done for “safety reasons” (meaning officer safety only) but that also doesn’t fly. Individuals joining the police department know what they’re getting into, it’s an unsafe job, and there are responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is alerting residents that you’re police officers so they know that the random people banging on their door at 1:30 in the morning aren’t thugs looking to commit murder (and even if you do announce that you’re police officers you can’t assume that the resident(s) will believe you, criminals have been known to impersonate police officers before). The job of police officers, at least they claim, is to protect and serve not kick own doors and gun down anybody they see who is armed. Because of this it’s imperative that officers identify their targets. A man holding a gun when answering his door because random people are banging on it at 1:30 shouldn’t be surprising or treated as a threat of violence in of itself. If the resident had made verbal threats towards the officers or shot at the officers it would be a different game.
From where I’m sitting this looks like a pretty cut and dry case of murder. If the resident had made threats towards the officers or shot at them I’m sure that knowledge would have been divulged to justify the officers’ actions. As it sits the only justification being given is the fact the resident was holding a firearm, which shouldn’t be treated as unusual considering the circumstances.