The Rise Of The Machines: Killing of Cop Killer Johnson May Be The First Lethal Use of Robot

220px-ANDROS_F6AOne of the least discussed aspect of the killing of cop-killer Micah Xavier Johnson is that it appears to be the first police killing via a robot. Rather than risk officers in a further fire fight, the police used an explosive ordnance disposal robot to carrying a small amount of C4 explosive into the room and detonate the C4 on an extension next to Johnson. The robotic killing raises some interesting questions under Tennessee v. Garner.

The robot appears to be an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot and very likely a Northrop Grumman-made Andros F6 model with four wheels, a extendable claw arm and second, rigid arm.

The use of the robot made sense given Johnson’s refusal to surrender and shooting at police. There is however some areas of concern. While a robot is equipped with a camera and can be withdrawn, there may be a concern about the ability of a robot perform that same functions under the standard under Tennessee v. Garner (1985). Lethal force can be used constitutionally when it is “necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or others.” Sending in a drone or robot may not offer the same contextual perspective or response time to make this decision. Indeed, one can imagine drone being used for greater versatility in delivering such an attack. It is also not clear whether robots or drone could not deliver a non-lethal hit just as well as a C4 charge.

After the successful detonation, the police tweeted “Our EOD robot took a hit from the initial explosion but is still functional and in use.”

43 thoughts on “The Rise Of The Machines: Killing of Cop Killer Johnson May Be The First Lethal Use of Robot

  1. I agree with anon. Further, this is all part of the militarization of our police force. This is a disaster. Police aren’t soldiers and citizens aren’t “the enemy”. If you like drones you’ll like these due process free robots as well.

    Here is a picture of what our police forces are doing, what they now wear, how they now act. Please watch it and see how you think this has anything to do with justice and policing.

    https://theintercept.com/2016/07/11/images-militarized-police-baton-rouge-draw-global-attention/

  2. I suppose there can be some debate on whether the use of explosives is humane. A problem would arise if the explosive did not kill the subject, but rather maimed him. Of course, the same would happen if a bullet blew someone’s leg apart but he didn’t die of blood loss. So there is precedent.

    I would not risk a human being’s life, that of the officers and any bystanders that could be drawn in, if it were possible to send in the robot to end it.

    bettykath: If I recall correctly, the subject also had bomb making materials at home. That would turn a siege deadly if he’d had a bomb. And those in charge are ultimately responsible for the consequences of their call. If they had not taken him out, and he’d had a bomb to take everyone out with him, those in command would have to live with that. If he refused to give up and surrender, and kept trying to kill them, what more could you expect from the police? They have a responsibility to show regard for the lives of the cops who serve under them, and not just carelessly throw them into a meat grinder.

  3. Betty kath
    …..how long of a seige do you recommend in circumstances like this?
    What area would you cordone off, and for how long?
    Should the police take cover, and not return fire?
    If Dylan Roof had been killed in a police shootout after murdering the Black churhgoers, would you bemoan the missed opportunity to find out “we he went off like he did”?
    Unbelivable.

  4. I believe the question is whether he was truly pinned and could not escape.
    If that was true, then there were far more numerous ways of non-lethally extracting him, at worst by attrition.

    If there was a reasonable chance he could escape to do more harm, or could do more harm from where he was, then it could be a legitimate thing to use lethal force.

  5. > Betty kath
    >…..how long of a seige do you recommend in circumstances like this?
    >What area would you cordone off, and for how long?

    Sincere question asked out of ignorance and my google fu failing to provide the details:

    Can someone, anyone, show me a diagram of where he was holed up? My understanding was he was in a parking garage, but I don’t know where he was in that parking garage, or any of the circumstances:

    concrete?
    walled in or open?
    was he observable?
    would it have been possible for him to escape?

    Also, what sort of equipment did the cops have?
    cell phone obstructors?
    stingray?
    other bomb robots with cameras?
    flash bangs?
    gas?

    Did the cops have access to:
    armored vehicle?
    mrap?
    RV?

    They blew him up with C4, did they have any reason to believe he had more than C4?

    I haven’t seen anything that describes this and this is why I think a public, transparent inquiry is needed.

    Yes, I believe the cops had him contained, and since they had him contained I do not understand not waiting him out. He has to sleep, eat, etc. and capturing him alive would be helpful in terms of deterrence as well as protecting all of our rights.

    • Randyjet….I’ve noticed considerable differences in the levels of competence and integrity in law enforcement agencies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction……some seem to stack up better than others.
      While department chiefs can’t be expected to be held responsible for every questionable action by every officer, the tone set by them, the expections they have of their officers, seems to have a lot to do with the quality of the policing.
      I haven’t been reluctant to criticize agencies that are clearly deficient…..I haven’t encountered that too often…but I’m not reluctant to express appreciation for the better agencies, via thank you notes, etc.

  6. Yeah, these robotics are great and could be very useful in law enforcement. However, people should be aware that there can be some glitches:

  7. It is good to see that most folks here have no problem with the tactics the cops had to use. Given the extreme circumstances, I think what they did was more than justified. I am somewhat disturbed by a comment saying that a white guy has had nothing but horrific interaction with cops without exception. As one who experienced personal viciousness and criminal activity against myself and my party by the Houston PD, I cannot tell a lie and say that ALL of my interactions with police have been bad. In fact, most of my interaction with cops have been good in the majority of cases, and there HAVE been very bad ones too. I am older and white. I guess I have had more contact than many since I have what my wife calls my lead foot. There are very severe problems with accountability for cops, and they are bad in Texas too. That is what needs to change and that can only be done through the legal processes.

  8. Anon.
    ….don’t bother with little details like how long the police should be expected to “contain” a subject who’s just shot 12 people and may have planted explosives in the area.
    Your expertise and endless second-guessing of the Dallas PD is far more enlightening than “sincere questions asked a out of ignore”.
    Next time a situation like this arises, maybe LE will consult with you as to how they should proceed.

    • bettykath – statistics show that more whites are killed by cops than blacks. Also, white cops kill fewer black than either black or Latino cops.

  9. @PaulCS

    Statistics and reality will play no part in this discussion. The only thing that matters is The Democratic Party Victimology Narrative. Any event that can be marginally shoe-horned into that scenario will get squeezed in. Racial “disparities” will be presented as having sprung into existence because of White Privilege, Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder, and Robert E. Lee. Anything but trashy behavior by trashy people.

    Hence, even killing a mass murderer gets crammed into the narrative.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  10. 50 years ago, the tower shooter at UT Austin indiscriminately shot dozens of people within a radius of several blocks.
    It was probably about 50 years ago to the day, allmost, now that I think of it.
    Kurt Russell, in one of his first roles as an adult actor, did a good job portraying the shooter.
    Mass shootings were relatively rare back then. Perpetual Monday Morning Quarterbacking in clear cut circumstances like this wss even rarer.
    Unfortunately, things have changed in both respects.

  11. Anon…..nice touch, bringing in the Bill of Rights.
    Now, let’s talk about the Crimean War, since you’re splattering your comments with crazy assertions like that.
    Perhaps the Dallas PD should have obtained a warrant before sending in the robot.
    Or maybe you “know of ” other ways the Bill of Rights was violated here for the shooter.
    There is remedial material available for you on the U.S.
    Constitution…you might check it out.
    This blog isn’t the best site to choose for you to fake knowledge of the Constitution.

  12. Hey tnash,

    Glad you caught me! Yep, I was just trolling by bringing in the Bill of Rights!!

    Sorry for tryng to distract the conversation away to pointless trivialities!

    You sure got me!!

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