Yesterday, a 20-year old black man was killed at the hands of police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. In an apparent effort at transparency, the police have already released the body cam footage from the event. In it, the officer shouts “Taser!” several times before pulling her gun and firing a single shot at Daunte Wright, leading to his death.
My first thought after the horror faded was “well, do the tasers they carry resemble their firearm in touch and feel?”, and you know what, they do. In split-second decisions of this importance, a barrier needs to exist to prevent this type of mix-up.
With the firearm and taser having the same general shape and function (grip, trigger pull, etc.), the opportunity for an officer’s brain to comprehend that it’s making a terrible mistake is minimized greatly, if not eliminated completely. These are the type of things that robust human performance programs identify and correct.
This was a tragic mistake that could have happened to any officer — any person — in that scenario, and my thoughts go out to everyone involved.