A police officer from New Richmond, Ohio, has drawn national attention for showing that encounters between police and suspected criminals don't always have to end in violence, even when the situation is tense.
27-year-old double homicide suspect Michael Wilcox, accused of murdering his fiancee and best friend, led police on what CNN described as a "multicounty chase through Kentucky and Ohio" before he abandoned his vehicle. Officer Jesse Kidder from New Richmond was on the scene, having just been informed that Wilcox was probably carrying a weapon and likely to attempt to force officers into shooting him.
The following clip from NBC News captures the moment that Wilcox rushed toward Kidder while repeatedly yelling "Shoot me!" But rather than comply, the officer continues to try to de-escalate the situation:
"Get your hands up right now," Kidder yells. "Stop. Stop, right there. I don't want to shoot you, man. I don't want to shoot you." When the suspect demands that Kidder kill him, he responds, "No man, I'm not going to do it." Finally, after getting so close that Kidder falls to the ground, Wilcox surrenders.
The unharmed man is now being held on $2 million bail. The policeman, meanwhile, is being praised for his restraint by his superiors and members of the Cincinnati community.
"Law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split-second decisions that mean life or death," Kidder told Cincinnati's WLWT-5, adding that he had noticed the suspect's hand reach into a pocket. "I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force."
"I was trying to open a dialogue with him. 'I don't want to shoot you, get on the ground,' but he wasn't having it," the officer added. "He kept repeating, 'Shoot me.' At one point, he said 'Shoot me or I'll shoot you." According to NBC, Kidder has only been with the police department for about a year, but previously served two tours in Iraq as a Marine.
New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey told WLWT-5 that "for [Kidder] to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity. This video footage, it eliminated all doubt that this officer would have been justified if in fact it came to a shooting."
Police shootings are exceptionally common in the United States; according to statistics compiled by KilledByPolice.net, approximately 345 people have been killed by American law enforcement agencies since January 1, while a stunning 1,100 died in 2014. Those slain are disproportionately from minority groups or the mentally ill.
If more officers demonstrate the kind of discipline and self-control that Kidder showed during his confrontation with Wilcox, perhaps future counts won't have to climb quite so high.