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In the mourning over the murders of five police officers in Dallas, and relief that the standoff had ended, one unusual detail stuck out: the manner in which police killed one suspect after negotiations failed.

“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Chief David Brown said in a press conference Friday morning. “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger. The suspect is deceased … He’s been deceased because of a detonation of the bomb.”

That use of a robot raises questions about the way police adopt and use new technologies. While many police forces have adopted robots—or, more accurately, remote-controlled devices—for uses like bomb detonation or delivery of non-lethal force like tear gas, using one to kill a suspect is at least highly unusual and quite possibly unprecedented.

“I’m not aware of officers using a remote-controlled device as a delivery mechanism for lethal force,” said Seth Stoughton, an assistant professor of law at the University of South Carolina who is a former police officer and expert on police methods. “This is sort of a new horizon for police technology. Robots have been around for a while, but using them to deliver lethal force raises some new issues.”

Robotics expert Peter Singer of New America also told the Associated Press he believed the use was unprecedented.

This may be the first time US police used a robot to intentionally kill a suspect. Link: http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/07/dallas-police-robot/490478/

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