After a wild afternoon, with shootings at three different locations, Kansas City Police shot and killed the suspect in the July 6 murder of Sharath Koppu, a UMKC grad student from India.
The suspect, still unnamed, shot two two undercover officers who had him under surveillance at a motel on U.S. 40 in east Kansas City. The two officers are expected to recover. An hour later, the police tracked the man to a neighborhood on the east side of Kansas City, where a third officer was shot and wounded.
The third encounter with the police was the suspect’s last. Police shot and killed the suspect in an exchange of gunfire at a home in the 2900 block of Topping.
The responses by city officials to the shootings are more revealing than perhaps intended. Tweeted Kansas City Mayor Sly James, “I’m grateful that the officers involved in today’s shooting were not critically injured. I very much appreciate their valor in taking a dangerous man with a dangerous weapon off the streets.”
That “dangerous weapon,” the chief culprit from the mayor’s perspective in the city’s absurdly high murder rate, was reportedly a rifle.
The Kansas City city manager had an oddly different take. “Tough day in @KCMO,” tweeted Troy Schulte. “Three of our finest @kcpolice injured in line of duty and 2 @kcmowater staff injured in lime dust explosion at water treatment plant.”
The equation doesn’t work. The police face potential injury or death every day on the job. Yes, they get sympathy from city officials if they are shot. But if they miscalculate a life-or-death threat in the seconds they have to make those calculations, city officials are often in the front of the queue demanding a cop’s incarceration. Water staff never face this kind of double threat.
In Chicago on Saturday four police officers were injured by angry protestors after one of the officers shot and killed a black man on the city’s south side. To quiet the protest, the police quickly released the body cam footage that shows the man reaching for his gun as he turns and runs from the cop.
The video also demonstrates how little time an officer has before deciding whether to fire. If he waits too long, he might not ever have another decision to make.
If the officer shoots too quickly, he can be sure that the same city officials who would piously mourn his death if he died, would be the ones calling for his head if the suspect died.