PORTLAND, Ore. -- Everyone looks at police shootings a bit differently, it seems, based on the belief they bring to the topic.
KGW took video from Saturday night's fatal shooting of a carjacking suspect and showed it to retired Portland Police Captain Scott Winegar.
The first thing he said was how dangerous it is when someone has a knife.
“When I was a police officer that’s what they trained us. A person with a knife can cover a distance of 21 feet and attack you with a knife before you can do anything to actually stop them,” he said.
That's part of what officers are thinking when they confront someone with a knife. On top of that, officers knew the suspect was dangerous from the earlier carjacking call.
“Its going to start that decision process too, because you’re thinking about somebody whose already shown a propensity to violence, and the use of deadly force so what is it you’re gonna have to do to keep others safe from this person whose demonstrated that capability,” said Winegar.
But Jason Renaud, a mental health advocate who believes police should use less force, said police had it all wrong.
“The police need to understand this person is in a crisis they’re not able to communicate well. They may be committing crimes but to use lethal force in a situation like that seems to be rather thoughtless,” he said.
Winegar said when officers finally confronted the suspect inside the shelter they had few options left.
“He won’t stop, he won’t put the knife down, he won’t stop being a threat and the way he’s actively moving around, you know, you couldn’t anticipate when he’s gonna make a move toward someone and become an immediate threat,” said Winegar.
But Renaud said there was no threat.
“I don’t see anyone near this person when he’s shot. Everyone has vacated or is vacating the room. there’s no one there but police officers, and this fellow, he’s a long distance from the officers and may have a knife in his hand but is not making any threatening gestures toward them,” he said.
Again, from the retired cop's eyes, the suspect was still planning an attack.
“Take a look at his actions…see how he’s seeking a way around to get to the officers? He’s actively pursuing them,” he said.
When asked if it's possible the suspect was trying to get away from the officers, Winegar said, "That may be true too but take a look at all the people around there. There’s not an exit that guy can take without threatening somebody."
Winegar was not surprised that officers opened fire when the suspect was away from everyone else. The chance of accidently shooting someone else was low.
It’s the same reason Renaud said there was no reason to shoot.