Law enforcement officers have been regularly demonized for taking tragic but necessary action to neutralize threats on the street. In such an environment, it can be easy to forget just how dangerous their job is. We frequently see video which calls into question whether a shooting was justified, usually coupled with commentary from anti-police critics who advocate “deescalation” techniques as opposed to the use of firearms.
Footage captured Monday from the dash camera of a sheriff’s deputy in Troup County, Georgia, demonstrates why such criticism proves ridiculous. In it, Deputy Michael Hockett comes under fire while performing a welfare check. Here’s how things went down, according to YouTube user PoliceActivity:
In the video, Hockett is heard yelling at the suspect, “Drop the gun now!” Moments later he’s seen running away as the armed suspect chases him. Hockett jumps a fence and the suspect begins firing at him. Hockett returns fire, hitting the suspect in the shoulder. Hockett was also hit in his forehead, elbow and waist by pellets from a shotgun blast during the shootout. Both Hockett and Edmondson survived.
As can be seen in the video, the threat to Hockett was immediate and grave. He had little time to react and might have suffered worse injuries if he had hesitated to return fire. This is the kind of situation an officer has to assume he is walking into every time he interacts with the public. Those who would do officers harm are not likely to announce their ill intent in advance. Failing to obey lawful commands is evidence of hostility. If an officer does not escalate force when his commands are disobeyed, it could end up costing him his life.