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Letters to the Editor: Why do police officers keep shooting people armed with knives?

Toni McBride
Los Angeles Police Officer Toni McBride, who shot a knife-wielding man in April, has come under increased scrutiny partly because of work as a gun-wielding model.
(Dillon Precision Products)

To the editor: I read with interest Steve Lopez’s column on another police shooting of a man armed with a knife. These shootings first caught my eye in 1979.

At the time, I was in law school when two Los Angeles Police Department officers shot Eula Love multiple times. The 39-year-old Love was holding a steak knife and arguing about why her gas was turned off over a $22 bill.

After reading of these incidents over 40 years, I have picked up a couple of themes. First, officers across the country are permitted to use combat fire, where they empty their guns at the suspect irrespective of opposing risks.

Second, police do not resort to alternative weapons, such as bean bags or even .22-caliber short bullets, often enough. Each LAPD squad car is loaded with special technology; is a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun the only option?

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If we agree a solution is needed, and we do, my first suggestion is a requirement to hire only college graduates with a degree in criminology.

Kevin H. Park, Westlake Village

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To the editor: Lopez does an excellent job recounting the circumstances of LAPD Officer Toni McBride’s killing of Daniel Hernandez last April. He also includes the opinions of two use-of-force experts whose conclusions differ on McBride’s potential culpability.

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If her initial shots were within policy, the investigation should center on the final two shots, which occurred when Hernandez was “down in a wounded position.” Interviewing McBride and the other officers present would certainly elicit enough evidence to conclude whether she should be found at fault regarding those final two shots.

It has been months since Hernandez’s death, more than enough time for the LAPD to have completed its investigation. The public is owed a timely response.

Noel Johnson, Glendale


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