Bringing a gun to a knife fight

A cop on trial for firing nine rounds into a guy brandishing a knife has said that by pulling his gun he was following the steps of de-escalation.

Excuse me? Pardon?

Allow me to quote from his trial records.

“Holding a firearm, that’s a form of de-escalation,” Forcillo said.

Huwhaaaaat???? What did you just say to me?

I think we’re having a failure to communicate here. Holding a firearm in that situation might be comforting to you. It might make you feel more safe but I’m certain that pulling a gun when someone has a knife is the text book example of escalation. So either you doesn’t know what words mean or we have a problem here, or both.

He is saying that pulling his gun is part of his training on you guessed it, de-escalation.

Now, I’m getting pretty used to words being manipulated to mean what we want. After all, I work with sales. I’m not “shoving a product down your throat”. I’m “overcoming your objections”. But this is a clear example of a word being inverted, turned inside out, used as an antonym of itself.

His claim that this was his training is what scares me.  If this is some asshole trying to save his skin because, after all he’s on trial for murder, then fine whatever. He’s an asshole and he’s manipulating language. It’s just court business as usual.

But if we are teaching police officers behaviors that actually escalate situations under the name of de-escalation then that is a huge issue.

If this is true then it fits neatly into a societal pattern where we remove responsibility through use of passive voice, distancing language etc. We say “someone was shot today”, not “this person shot someone today”. It goes beyond innocent until proven guilty. We are sanitizing language to make things less ugly but they are ugly and if we just dance around it linguistically we aren’t doing ourselves any favours. Changing the word just makes us feel better. It doesn’t do away with the root problem of the violent situation.

Don’t tell me a person was allegedly shot when there is dash cam footage of a shooting and a dead body with bullet holes in it! We need to call things what they are. We need to stop mincing words.

He didn’t de-escalate the situation any more than he whipped out the care bear stare.

Officer Forcillo shot a teenager. End of sentence. More precisely. Officer Forcillo fired 9 rounds at a teenager holding a knife.  Whether it’s murder or not is a discussion for the court but pulling a gun out is the opposite of de-escalation. Let’s just be clear on that.



3 thoughts on “Bringing a gun to a knife fight

  1. I completely agree. In June, a young woman was shot by police in my tiny rural town. She had a homemade, flail-like weapon that she was damaging property with. Clearly, some intervention was needed, but she was shot. Nearly six months later, she still is not competent to stand trial, meaning her mental illness is severe enough to have incapacitated her judgement beyond criminal responsibility. She needed help, was smashing down the world to try to get it and it got her shot. Not only that, but portions of the community have openly stated that the officer’s only option for resolving the situation was to have shot her. There is just so much harm in this approach.

    I thought the police were supposed to protect the public and that is frequently cited as a reason we’re supposed to tolerate this kind of behavior. But shooting children and the desperately mentally ill doesn’t make me feel safer, even if they really are breaking the law when it happens.


    • Wow that is awful. Breaking the law is not grounds to shoot someone though. It should lead to arrest and a trial. There is too much summary judgment passed out with a gun. My first thought wsd wow she was only wounded at least but we shouldn’t live in a world where that is the silver lining or are we just old fashioned?


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