Even ‘unarmed’ suspects can put police officers in mortal danger

Police are seen inside the Costco store in Corona the night of an officer-involved shooting on June 14.
(Patrick Smith / For The Times)

To the editor: Many accounts of police shootings emphasize that a suspect was “unarmed.” (“Would the Costco shooter be in jail if he weren’t a cop?” editorial, June 19)

Why is that so important? Many of those suspects could have easily broken the officer’s head without a weapon. If no weapon were involved, keep in mind that sheer physical strength can be a factor. By constantly emphasizing whether someone was armed, you minimize the probability of the officer sustaining permanent injury.

Take the case of the “gentle giant” who was killed in an altercation with an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer at the Costco in Corona. In this day and age, police are often physically weaker than some of the people they encounter. Where does it say that the officer had to take a beating because the man was mentally ill and did not display a weapon?

We do not know the whole story. Have any of you actually tried to reason with someone exhibiting great mental distress? I have — sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, it is not pretty.


David H. Dolson, Valencia

The writer is a retired LAPD captain.


To the editor: Is it not dangerous for someone to hold his 18-month-old child while possessing a loaded gun, as the off-duty officer was doing at Costco?


Also, can we please have an explanation of why many police officers carry their weapons at all times, even when they are not working? As a nurse, I do not carry my stethoscope around, and firefighters don’t carry hoses and axes.

Anna Eakins, Redondo Beach


To the editor: Your coverage of the tragic shooting death at Costco of 32-year-old Kenneth French points out that his relatives say he had the mental capacity of a teenager.

Knowing my 16-year-old granddaughter, I consider that high praise.

Nancy Grant, Laguna Beach

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

Get our weekly Opinion newsletter