EDITOR: One thing is clear from the Andy Lopez tragedy: Sheriff’s deputies chose to create an armed confrontation when the suspect had not actively threatened them or anyone else.
This armed confrontation was a high-stakes gamble that the suspect would behave exactly as commanded by the deputies. At the other extreme, let’s say Andy had a loaded AK-47 and also body armor. It could have been the deputies we would now be mourning. Guns, pointed toward other people, are like nuclear weapons — when they’re used, no one really wins.
Policing is an inherently dangerous profession. We are fortunate that people sign on, but they do so voluntarily, knowing full well the risks. When police attempt to transfer those risks to innocent people through the aggressive tactics used on Andy, they are simply not doing the job they were hired to do in a peaceful, just, civil society.
I support the creation of an ongoing civilian review board to look closely at the tactical training given the sheriff’s deputies and all local law enforcement agencies. I’m not swayed by arguments that the other police agencies, the district attorney and grand juries are doing an adequate job.