God Bless This Heroic Cop

God Bless This Heroic Cop April 23, 2015

An armed double murderer who had just killed his wife and best friend attempts to commit suicide by cop, rushing a rookie officer shouting “Shoot me, shoot me!”

But New Richmond officer Jesse Kidder — a former Marine who later said “I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force” — didn’t shoot. The killer was captured nonviolently.

Culture of Death Combox cowards ask, “When do we get to kill?”  Heroes ask, “When do I have to kill?”

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  • SDG

    I’ve been staggered — in my naivete — at the immediate response to this story from some quarters criticizing the cop for failing to shoot when he was supposedly “required” to do so.

    Happily, a cop friend of mine has contradicted this narrative. He writes:

    if a police officer is in a situation in which he is justified in using deadly physical force, less lethal means may be used and are perfectly legitimate to effect an arrest. To say that a cop is “required” to take a life is beyond any police regulations I have ever seen… Any decent training is not robotic and takes into account that every situation is different and judgement is crucial.

    I never shot anyone, but I did arrest a few for whom I could have justified at least one 45 caliber hole. That said, some people really do need to be shot. But I’ll be damned if I make that decision for another cop.

    • Pete the Greek

      Your cop friend is the same as the ones I know and worked with.

      Anytime you can end something without having to use lethal force is a good thing.

    • chezami

      Combox experts *love* the idea of blowing people away, Steve. They get off on vicarious violence and are disappointed when cops don’t provide them with it.

      • PalaceGuard

        They are also either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the inescapable injury done to the cop (or to anyone else with a conscience) who kills, even in the most justified of circumstances.

  • SteveP

    Mark—Rules of engagement are precisely answering the question “when do I get to kill.” While that term is yours, those who need to memorize any RoE would probably say “when is the use of deadly force justified.”
    Superlatives are the new average: everyone is a hero.
    May the Father’s grace continue to be with Jessie Kidder.

  • The air strike military mission called interdiction is, so far as I can tell, never a situation where you have to kill. It’s also one of the major types of operations that the US military does, a major component of our combined arms strategy. Are you saying that the US should stop using interdiction strikes because to do otherwise is cowardly?

    I think I don’t understand what you’re saying. I hope I don’t understand what you’re saying.

    • Newp Ort

      I’m pretty sure you don’t understand what he’s saying.

      • For you to accurately say that, and just that, you would have to understand what Mark was saying, decide to comment on my mistake, and decide to keep me in ignorance. That seems a little mean spirited.

        • Newp Ort

          You said that you hope you don’t understand what he’s saying. How is confirming your hopes meanspirited?

          I think the point is simple: Choosing not to kill when lethal force is justifiable, and at some possible risk to your own safety is heroic!

          Sadly but predictably combox warriors criticize him for not shooting the guy. Some samples:

          “Keep doing that, you will become a statistics. [sp]”

          “A gangsta is going to blow this cop away. Next time he won’t be so lucky.”

          “I don’t know what else to say other than this was very foolish or this officer was just to afraid to pull the trigger.”

          Some see legally justifiable homicide as an opportunity, rather than a last resort.

          Mark called such people cowards. Maybe this is where you got confused, because that’s when you started talking about military interdiction and cowardice. (were you replying to the wrong post or something?)

          Bloodthirsty is what immediately comes to my mind when considering theses combox warriors, but Mark called them cowardly, which I think also applies.

          • The cop took a gamble. In this case it seems to have paid off. I hope that the impulse to “suicide by cop” isn’t a persistent one (it can go either way). In a recent death penalty debate, I came across a case where someone insisted on the death penalty for themselves and kept on killing until they got their wish. That meant two extra people died. They were both prisoners but they still count in my book. The terrible duty of the state is to judge when the rare criminal will persistently court death by cop or the death penalty and kill until they accomplish their aim.

            Here’s what Mark actually said:

            Culture of Death Combox cowards ask, “When do we get to kill?” Heroes ask, “When do I have to kill?”

            It’s a pretty powerful sound bite. It’s also tremendously over broad, which is why I raised the issue I did. Mark’s responded now and doesn’t seem interested in doing anything more than emotionally lashing out. I take that to mean that he hadn’t actually considered the idea that somebody might take him seriously as laying out a general rule and not as an exhortation to a two minute hate against those who worry that too much restraint will lead to more death. Too much restraint is fully subject to the classic “what harm could it do” and “how were we supposed to know” two stage cycle that Mark, in other contexts, uses with great skill.

            I should state, that for the record, I do believe that there are psychopaths who do indeed view legally justified homicide as an opportunity. When encountering people on the Internet I generally don’t start off thinking that somebody that has an opinion different than me is mentally ill. In fact, I think it’s quite a rare condition, 1% of the general population. It’s almost certain that Mark was libeling the majority of the group of people who express the opinion he was angry about.

            • Newp Ort

              Ok now it’s me who definitely does not get your comment.

              Did you feel Mark’s criticism was directed at you? Or death penalty related somehow? I didn’t read it that way.

              I thought he was lamenting the mentality that boos when Caesar’s thumb points up.

              And btw, your prison death penalty example argument is a non-sequitur. It could just as easily be argued that they need to do a better job with security.

              • The police call specifically mentioned “death by cop” which is very related to that death penalty case. Both use cases are individuals who make conscious decisions to force a situation where they are killed by the state. The only difference is one is before trial and one is after trial. I hope that the man was simply temporarily suicidal and channels his anguish at the murder he confessed to in ways that don’t lead to other deaths. If it is a permanent fixation, the guy will seek to force his death at the hands of the state until he is successful. The second chance that this police officer bravely offered this criminal will have been squandered at that point, possibly with the cost of additional deaths.

                I support the policeman who was on the spot and made this call because he had the sort of extraordinary trigger discipline that is instilled in soldiers (and would likely violate human rights norms if introduced in the civilian population) but also understand the notes of caution. I categorize the policeman’s actions as a failed attempt at martyrdom. It worked out really well this time. Nobody died. How much martyrdom do we want to encourage? Mark’s no brakes on martyrdom approach is valid. What is not valid is his attempt to delegitimize more cautious approaches to the question of martyrdom.

    • If, as you say, interdiction is *never* a situation where you *have* to kill, then it seems that the US (and everyone else who may use this tactic) should indeed stop using interdiction strikes.

      As I understand it, the Catholic theory of self-defense and just warfare is one that permits killing when necessary, but not when not necessary. Unnecessary killing would, by definition, be called “murder.”

      So if interdiction is, by definition, not necessary, then it becomes, by definition, murder. It would be wrong for that reason. Cowardice would just be icing on the cake of sin.

      For the record, I don’t know enough about military tactics to judge whether or not interdiction is always in every case a murderous tactic. Hence, my strong use of “If”. I pray that TMLutas is incorrect about its necessity or lack thereof as a battle tactic, since I have no desire for our soldiers or their commanders to fall into sin.

      • You seem to think that necessary and have to are the same thing. Is that accurate? To win most modern wars, interdiction is necessary in order to induce a collapse in the enemy’s front without a WW I style attrition meat grinder but by its nature (strikes behind a battle front) it’s never a case of immediate kill or be killed so as I understand it, you don’t have to do it in the sense that I think Mark was using the term.

        The doctrine itself is available to the public in case you want to bone up on it so we are not talking past each other:


        The full publicly available library is indexed here:


        Anything that’s behind the JEL+ restriction can be legally accessed via google search (as per the pentagon papers judicial case).

        I do not say that the military must be listened to over our priests, but then Mark isn’t a priest. I think he’s drawing a line here that is neither viable as a practical matter nor is it theologically obligatory. If he’s got it right, then the line he’s drawing should work through all the use cases of violence/war. Interdiction was just the first large scale objection that popped into my head.

        If we’ve gone astray in the way we fight wars, something that’s perfectly possible, it would be nice to figure out how to fix it without ending up with barbarians at my door. Doing it piecemeal is a good recipe for things to end badly.

        • Yes, I took “necessary to” as the same as “have to”. They seem common speech synonyms to me.

          I’m perfectly open to different kinds of necessity. I have no time for or interest in parsing the details of this or that military tactic. I simply took your “never have to” as broader than you seem to have meant it, as meaning that this tactic was entirely unnecessary and therefore murder rather than warfare.

          As I understand Just War Theory, deadly force does not have to be used only in immediate kill-or-be-killed situations, but it does have to be restricted to active enemy combatants. Moreover, tactics that may be licit in some circumstances may also be used illicitly, so all deadly force must be used with the utmost care. The goal is not to make the other poor bastard die for his country, but to preserve as many lives as possible in the pursuit of a just peace.

          All that said, I leave it to those more expert than I (and with more direct responsibility) to judge whether interdiction is a just action ever, or in any given situation.

          • Newp Ort

            Don’t get him started on “must.”

          • All that analysis from start to finish is a question of “when do we get to kill”, which Mark was trying to draw as out of bounds. In the normal course of events, truck drivers are ferrying the tools of war to the actual fighters. They don’t personally pull a trigger but a combat unit in extended contact will be forced to surrender if the truck drivers can’t get enough “bullets, beans, and blankets” to the combat unit.

            So is reducing available supply down to zero and forcing a surrender impermissible consequentialism even though it saved lives? Is it a victory won on the graves of dead truck drivers who were never going to pull a trigger? I don’t think so.

            Logistics is an integral part of modern warfare. Winning a war by logistics dates back at least to Thermopyle (mass persian armies couldn’t stay in the field very long) so we aren’t talking about something unknown at the time of Jesus.

    • chezami

      Shall I dignify your insulting and silly question with an answer?


      • More name calling, Mark? Your inner angry man is showing.

        • chezami

          What name calling?