Editorial: Cool-headed, professional, compassionate
Friday, May 19, 2017 - 3:01pm
It could have been bad. It could have been real bad.
Tragedy was averted last week when officers took down a man who had entereed Jefferson Hospital with a semi-automatic pistol, threatened one employee with it, and then forced his ex-girlfriend from the lab and into the parking lot where he attempted to abduct her from the premises.
“There’s a lot of folks who could have gotten hurt in that hospital,” Louisville Police Chief Jimmy Miller said just hours after he stared down the barrel of the man’s gun. “Fortunately it was resolved without us having to take anybody’s life and without him taking anyone else’s.”
Miller was only a block away when the call came in notifying him of the situation. When he arrived, he saw the man striking the woman with the gun and loading her into a vehicle.
Miller approached him with his weapon drawn and heard the man threaten the woman’s life, Miller’s life and his own.
At some point during the incident the clip, or magazine, fell out of the weapon.
“It was a Smith and Wesson and it’s a safety feature on all Smith and Wessons that they don’t fire with the magazine out,” Miller said. “When I first approached him, he had the magazine in his hand. I told him to drop the gun or I was going to shoot. He started flicking the bullets out and throwing them at me. Then he threw the magazine at me. When he realized he didn’t have anything but a paper weight he said ‘Kill me then,’ and tossed the gun at me. I put it in my waistband and he never looked at the officer behind him.”
That’s when one of Miller’s officers used a Taser to subdue the perpetrator.
We, as a community, were lucky to have a cool headed, professional and compassionate officer like Chief Miller on duty to handle such a situation. In the days since the incident we have heard a number of people say that in other counties the officers would have opened fire and blood would have been spilled in the hospital parking lot.
Miller’s training told him the gun, with the safety features in play, was not the threat it could have been. While he was certainly prepared to do what had to be done to protect and serve, he also showed a commendable degree of nerve and calculated judgement in deciding deadly force was not necessary.
Thank you, Chief.
We were also grateful for the training the hospital staff has received from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the county Emergency Managment Agency and other law enforcement on active shooter simulation drills. The most recent of which was about a year ago.
After the incident Jefferson Hospital CEO Lou Semrad said that he was appreciative of the rapid response of law enforcement and the hospital staff who initiated the lockdown protocols.
“The staff did exactly what they were supposed to do and through their efforts and the efforts of law enforcement what could have been a very large tragedy was averted,” Semrad said.
When someone chooses to use violence as a means to take what they want or punish someone who has hurt them, it stands to reason that violence may be required to restore order. But it is not always necessary, and we are fortunate to have trained and compassionate law enforcement officers protecting our community who value all human life, even that of dangerous criminals.