A hidden camera captured a Fort Bend County, TX, deputy shooting Michael Blair several times after the mentally ill man refused to lay down a (small) kitchen knife and come out from behind a locked bathroom door. The deputy remains unidentified and on duty as of this posting.
The five-minute video, released this week, shows the deputy fire nearly a dozen shots into the body of Blair, and he continues to shoot as Blair falls to the ground—a clear violation of all policing protocol. The deputy was not aware of the camera, and he can be heard several times saying “be patient” to his partner and screaming “I don’t want to shoot you” as Blair flops around in an empty bathtub and his family pleads for his life.
Exactly why a hidden camera was aimed at the bathroom and why it took so long for the footage to be released remains unclear, but it really doesn’t matter.
I have a few thoughts on this case, and almost all center around why/how a deputy felt a clearly ill individual locked in the bathroom with a knife was a threat to him and the general public. Why is his finger on the trigger of his weapon during the entire incident? Why does he not once use his radio to call for specialized assistance? Would the outcome of this incident have been different if the cops knew they were being video taped?
I believe it would have.
Further, the deputy—despite “fearing for his life”—antagonizes Blair throughout the video and clearly places using force at the top of his list of options. The deputy escalates the situation from the outset, and at no time does he try to engage or simply talk with Blair—a reflection of poor training, inexperience or both. The deputy instead takes on an aggressive posture and tags Blair several times with a stun gun.
This man was not a threat, simple as that. Negotiators and mental health professionals were never called to the scened, and we find ourselves once again analyzing a situation in which a bully with a badge crowns himself judge, jury and executioner.