Why Jesse Kidder should have shot Michael Wilcox

The highly touted incident in Kentucky last week which resulted in a police officer not shooting a murder suspect is being hailed as an important example of police tactics in the United States. Unfortunately, it’s drawing national media attention for all the wrong reasons. For those of you who might have missed it, here’s a thumbnail summary of the events as reported in The Guardian.

An Ohio police officer is being praised for holding his fire even as a suspect in a killing charged him, saying repeatedly, “shoot me”.

WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported that the tense moments were captured on Thursday on a body camera worn by New Richmond officer Jesse Kidder. The video shows Kidder backpedaling and telling 27-year-old Michael Wilcox he doesn’t want to shoot him.

Wilcox is charged with killing his 25-year-old girlfriend and is a person of interest in a Kentucky killing. Kidder says dispatchers told him Wilcox could try to force a “suicide by cop” after a chaotic, violent chase.

As noted, the entire thing was captured on the officer’s personal body camera. (“Personal” in this case denotes that the equipment was not issued by the department, but was purchased privately.) Before we get to everything that’s wrong with the media machine coverage of the story, here’s the video in question.

The Narrative Journalism Brigade is all over this one, excitedly exclaiming how Kidder demonstrated great restraint in the incident and noting all the praise that he is receiving. The most liberal scolds are wagging their fingers at the rest of the law enforcement community, supposedly pointing to this as an example of how things should be done. Kidder has even had to insist to reporters that he’s not a hero after all the accolades he’s received.

Kidder is a hero and deserving of our thanks and respect for his bravery and willingness to don the badge and protect society. But regarding this specific incident he may not be doing us that much of a favor. Let’s first review the salient facts leading up to the encounter. The suspect, Mr. Wilcox, was not some random person pulled over for an expired inspection sticker or carrying an open container. He had been pursued across state lines as a suspect in a double homicide. At the time that Wilcox was located, it’s true that dispatchers had informed Kidder that he might try committing suicide by cop, but they also warned that he could have a gun under the seat of his vehicle. This encounter didn’t simply justify the normal level of precaution which police need to exercise in any possible interaction with alleged criminals, but extraordinary precaution.

While it is unfortunate to have to bring this up, it is also worth noting that both the officer and the suspect were white. This is actually beneficial when examining this case because it takes out the obvious and automatic assumptions which would be in play had Wilcox been black. (But if you read the comments section on the YouTube video above you’ll see the normal, sickening attacks being parsed in a new way, insisting that Kidder would have shot Wilcox had he been black. For too many liberals, cops can’t do anything right.)

As seen in the video, Wilcox was charging the officer at varying rates of speed, sticking his hands in his pockets and reaching for his waistband. It was absolutely impossible to determine if he had a weapon. And because Officer Kidder was backing up, he even fell down once, momentarily losing control of the situation. At this point, let’s remind ourselves that this encounter could have ended in two other ways. Kidder could have shot (and likely killed) Wilcox, or Wilcox could have pulled out a weapon at a critical moment and we’d be burying yet another cop.

The Narrative Journalism Brigade has jumped all over this story to reinforce the message they’ve been preaching for at least the last year. They finally found one good cop who isn’t a murderous maniac. The story they want to portray is being heard loud and clear by not only law enforcement officers, but criminals as well. This was the right thing to do. So the next time an officer finds themselves in a split-second, life or death situation, they may pause with this fairy tale in the back of their minds and one more blue life is lost. And criminals, knowing that the police are being conditioned to not defend themselves, will be thinking it might just be worth taking the shot and making a bid for freedom.

If Kidder had shot Wilcox there isn’t a jury in the land that would have convicted him, though he would still be pulled out of service during the automatic investigation. (And if Wilcox had been black there would have been marches taking place and Al Sharpton would already be on the scene in Kentucky.) If Kidder had died, well… we’d probably never have heard about the story in the national press. But as it turned out, this is a big win for the anti-cop forces in the media and the social justice movement who want to portray law enforcement as the bad guys. If this sort of response becomes the norm in America, we’re going to see a lot more dead cops and there are plenty of activists out there who won’t be shedding any tears over that.