CNN’s Blitzer: Why Did Philly Police “Shoot To Kill” And Not “Shoot To Injure”?



Because police don’t get their lethal-force training from Joe Biden or Hollywood? Given that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked this question to the network’s own law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, one could make the argument that the Situation Room anchor was simply teeing up the issue for Ramsey to answer. CNN doesn’t have video of this exchange handy, but Reason’s Robby Soave saw it live:

Here’s the transcript, in which Blitzer provides this as commentary on the shooting of Walter Williams by Philadelphia police. The video shows Wallace advancing on police despite repeated orders to stop and drop his weapon, and witnesses confirm Williams was armed with a knife. Why not just shoot to injure rather than “shoot to kill,” Blitzer asks.

Ramsey explains that police do neither:

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, every shooting is concerning, and a tragedy in its own — in its own right. We have to take a careful look at this, and in will be a thorough investigation to find out whether or not the use of deadly force was justified. This was a call for a man with a knife. The officers were seen backing up, the individual was coming toward them with a knife. Neither of these officers were armed with Tasers, which would be a less lethal weapon. I know that Philly is in the process of trying to get Tasers for all of their patrol officers. That’s 4,500. Right now, they’ve got slightly more than 2,300 that have been deployed, but those two officers did not have a Taser at the time.

BLITZER: The victim, Walter Wallace, had a knife, as you saw. One witness said, though, he had mental health issues. The district attorney said a report was a medical call was consistent with what they know so far.So could these officers have escalated the situation if they obviously could have used Tasers if they had them, but they didn’t have Tasers. But why shoot to kill opposed to shoot to injure and just prevent anything from going further?

RAMSEY: Well, officers are trained to shoot at what we call center mass. Despite what you may see on TV, it’s not easy to hit extremities and so forth (ph), especially under stress. So officers are trained to shoot center mass, not shoot to kill. But, unfortunately, that does happen.

The Taser issue might have been moot under these circumstances anyway. Tasers aren’t designed to end a lethal threat, but are more for those resisting arrest and presenting non-lethal threats. Tasers don’t always work, and they are too iffy in close proximity when someone has a lethal weapon in their hands.

But even aside from that, the framing of the question was ignorant, at the very least, even if Blitzer wanted to use it as a springboard for Ramsey. But was that the case? Blitzer has a track record of asking this question, as it turns out. Note the date and the context, which was right after the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown:

Blitzer has been asking the question for six years, and apparently never listening to the answer. The Mediaite link is dead, but TPM Livewire noted the August 2014 exchange with Toobin, in which Blitzer posed the question even more ignorantly:

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One of many video’s about this. I blame this on the TV/Movie culture.

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Why did the Philly 911 operator send police at all?
Why not send social workers or mental health experts?
A couple of dead city employees and then he could get back to knifing the woman he was going after in the 1st place.
THEN what would Wolf say?

@Nan G:

Wolf does not realize the tremendous service these officers did for society. Apparently they had visited the address twice that day earlier. It is probable this dirtbag would have continued to have been a nuisance to society for how ever long he may have lived.
This is tax payer relief and I applaud their rational decision to remove this reprobate from the living allowing the rest of us to get on with our lives.

Shooting to injure in this case would have been a poor decision.

This is about having NO COPS. That’s what they Left wants….like Hitler did.

Someone should ask Blitzer, if you have a gun and someone is running at you with a knife, what do you do?

Wolf needs to shave or back to the alley with a 99 cent bottle of wine.
At least 11 people shot in an area targeted by looters during a night of unrest.
A 15 year old girl shot 4 times in the torso. None of those by the police.