Dallas police chief: You're damned right I'd order the Code Red again

Don’t try telling Dallas police chief David Brown about ethical dilemmas involving remote-control applications of lethal force. Critics began questioning the decision to use a robot to kill Micah Johnson after several hours of negotiation went nowhere, wondering if this would begin a slippery slope on remote-control lethal force. Brown, however, said he didn’t think twice — and would do it all over again if needed:

As Brown notes, what’s the ethical dilemma at hand anyway? Brown knew that at least two police officers had already been killed, and Johnson was bragging about it — and asking for body counts from his efforts. He tried negotiating with Johnson, but he refused to surrender, and Brown refused to put any more of his men and women at risk in taking Johnson out.

“This wasn’t an ethical dilemma,” Brown told the press. “I’d do it again to save our officers’ lives.” When pressed again on the use of the robot, Brown emphasized the point. “I would use any tool necessary to save our officers’ lives,” he replied, “and I’m not ashamed to say it.”

Besides, Johnson had a “large stockpile” of bombs at his disposal, and police are sure he knew how to use them. Under those circumstances, it was a fair bet that any police officer sent in to kill Johnson would likely have been killed himself before getting the chance. “This wasn’t some novice,” Brown said.


On Saturday, I pointed out that the real issue isn’t the method of delivering lethal force, but whether it’s justified. In this case, it clearly was, for all the reasons Brown points out here. Enough police officers got killed at Johnson’s hands, and he had been given hours of opportunities to surrender. Whether a sniper or a bomb-carrying robot took him out only matters tactically, not ethically.

Reporters wanted to pin Brown down on gun issues, but he proved a bit too adept for that. Declaring that policy wasn’t his job and he’s not interested in hypotheticals, the police chief told reporters that when legislators propose laws, he’ll comment on the specifics. Otherwise, Brown would rather remain agnostic on that, especially given the entrenched positions on all sides:

Finally, Brown did offer some advice on another social issue — protests against police. Why not just become involved in serving communities rather than block traffic and shout? “We’re hiring,” Brown added:

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