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Thread: Are Police Allowed to Robot-Bomb Suspects?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Are Police Allowed to Robot-Bomb Suspects?

    Are Police Allowed to Robot-Bomb Suspects?

    Experts say yes, and that Dallas is just the beginning.

    By Steven Nelson | Staff Writer July 8, 2016, at 1:54 p.m.


    Police attempt to calm the crowd as someone is arrested following the Dallas sniper shootings. LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

    A cop-killing suspect died Friday when Dallas police detonated a “bomb robot” at his parking garage hideout, using a possibly unprecedented policing tactic after 5 officers were shot dead.

    But are American police actually allowed to blow up a suspect?

    Legal experts says under certain circumstances, the answer probably is yes, though special considerations differentiate killings using robotics and explosives from more common defensive shootings.

    The precise details of the robot-bombing are unclear, and experts say facts are essential to the legal analysis, even if existing principles governing use of lethal force apply.

    Dallas police chief David Brown said Friday that authorities used the bomb hours after the chaotic mass shooting during an anti-police violence protest. Ultimately, he said, negotiations failed and the bomb was dispatched.

    “We cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours,” Brown said. “Negotiations broke down, we had an exchange of gunfire with the suspect [and] we saw no other option than to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.”

    Brown said “other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger” and that police confirmed the man, later identified as Micah Johnson, 25, died from injuries caused by the bomb.

    The novel use of deadly technology elicited immediate comparisons to targeted drone strikes overseas. But experts say it could well fit within existing legal frameworks for domestic law enforcement killings.

    “One of the questions that inevitably will arise is the immediacy of the threat,” says David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore. “Obviously the more remote the suspect is and the less immediate the danger, the more difficult lethal force is to justify.”




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    Jaros says it’s wise to avoid rushing to judgment, but that “the question that would have to be asked is, what’s the danger in waiting a little longer?”

    Though he suspects many existing use-of-force principles apply, Jaros says the matter is sure to spur more in-depth legal analysis, though perhaps when a robotic bomb is used against a suspect viewed with greater public sympathy.

    University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris says the robotic killing appears to be the first of its kind in the U.S., and agrees the “bomb robot” is “clearly a lethal weapon and its legality would be governed by the current use of force rules, just as would a high-powered sniper rifle.”

    But Richard Murphy, a law professor at Texas Tech University, says it’s possible the mobility of a robot-delivered bomb presents another factor that must be considered.

    “It does, by creating more possibilities for action, change the factual circumstances in which the legal question must be asked and answered,” Murphy says.

    Jordan Paust, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, says details such as the size of the bomb also are necessary context to consider when applying current rules.

    “The main legal issue would involve inquiry whether there was excessive use of force, an inquiry tied to features of context and principles of necessity and proportionality,” he says. “For example, were there equally effective means of neutralizing a target?”

    Paust says lethal force is justified if a murder suspect is firing at police, meaning they would not be constrained to use of tear gas, stun grenades or other non-lethal means that potentially could be delivered by robot.

    The deadly shooting of police officers may not lend itself to sympathy with the explosives-killed suspect. But hundreds of people die annually in confrontations with police, many heavily debated by the public, including two cases this week that reportedly inspired Johnson to shoot police.

    Paust says use of robotic weaponry will inevitably increase and that more officer training and new rules of engagement will be needed.

    “Military research regarding the size of drones will likely impact on domestic production of very small lethal drones that can fly through doors and windows in search of targets, leading to more precision in use of force,” he says.

    Jaros says the legal analysis is only beginning.

    “Whether it’s fully explored in this case or not, it will ultimately be fodder for plenty of law journal articles,” he says. “If it’s not this case, we can expect to see more cases in the future.”

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/...-bomb-suspects
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    This would seem to clear the way for an armed drone attack on the car of a "SUSPECT' who was making a getaway.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    police robots on Twitter

    https://twitter.com/search/police+robots
    Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

    1 hour ago - View on Twitter
    The Pentagon has doled out 451 bomb robots to police agencies through its excess-inventory program since 2005
    www.reuters.com/article/u…

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    Dallas Police Believed to Be First to Use Robot Lethally

    Police chief says ‘no other option’ but to use a bomb-disposal robot jury-rigged with explosives


    Police deployed a four-wheeled robot rigged with explosives to kill a gunman in the Dallas ambush, marking what some experts say is the first time such a device has been used lethally by U.S. law enforcement. Photo: Getty Images


    By JACK NICAS
    Updated July 8, 2016 6:34 p.m. ET

    The use of a robot by Dallas police to kill a gunman after he’d shot a number of police officers appears to have been the first time U.S. law enforcement intentionally used a robot lethally, experts said.

    Dallas officials said Friday that officers decided to use a bomb-disposal robot jury-rigged with C-4 explosives after negotiating with the suspect for several hours and then exchanging gunfire with him.Police identified the gunman as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army veteran who served a tour in Afghanistan.


    “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot, and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at a news conference.

    “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger. The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”


    Law-enforcement officials, security researchers and robot manufacturers said Friday that the robot’s use was a first for U.S. law enforcement, opening a new chapter in how police deploy technology to combat threats, including active gunmen.

    Militaries around the world have robots intended for combat, including armed drones. But few, if any, police departments own such technology, researchers and robot makers said.


    Many local law-enforcement agencies own robots designed to inspect dangerous situations or disarm explosives. Such robots typically include a movable arm, a microphone and several cameras or sensors. Authorities control the devices remotely so they can see around a corner, inspect suspicious packages or disarm explosives, often by shooting pressurized water or clay at a bomb, robot makers said.

    Mark Lomax, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, a group for members of SWAT and similar teams, said authorities have used such robots to monitor a gunman behind a barricade, communicate with him, or deliver a requested item.


    “But this is the first time it was used as a means to terminate the actor,” said Mr. Lomax, a former major with the Pennsylvania State Police.


    The lethal use raises new questions about deadly force.


    “Police are permitted to use deadly force to protect themselves or others, but what does it mean...when the police may be far away?” said Elizabeth Joh, a criminal law professor at the University of California Davis. “Do we want lethally armed police robots to become an ordinary part of policing? Do we want such robots to have artificial intelligence? The Dallas incident shows that these aren’t just fanciful hypotheticals.”


    Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said police rules allow officers to be creative. The rules governing use of force “don’t speak to the type of weapon,” he said. Once police have authority to use fatal force, “you can use it in any way you need to.” Most U.S. bomb squads have access to C-4, a deadly explosive, he noted.

    Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor who focuses on police regulation, said the Dallas incident could prompt other police to use robots similarly, including in situations that aren’t justified. “We might see instances where [robots] are used lethally and they shouldn’t be, because they are easy to use and because they may seem safer than other options,” he said. “We have to at least acknowledge some risk of overuse.”


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    The incident also could add to the debate around robotic warfare. Dozens of top technologists and scientists signed a letter last year warning of the dangers of autonomous weapons.

    Peter Singer, a defense-technology researcher at the New America Foundation, said connecting the Dallas incident to that debate is misguided because the police robot was manually controlled and used in an ad-hoc fashion.


    Makers of police robots said they don’t expect law-enforcement clients to begin clamoring for the devices for use as a weapon against suspects.


    Jack Vongdouangchanh , an executive at police-robot maker Icor Technology Inc., said there is some talk in his industry about putting tasers on robots, “but that’s a wish list, mostly.”


    QinetiQ PLC sells tactical robots armed with shotguns to law enforcement, intended to blow open doors, not to harm people.

    Dan Deguire, Qinetiq’s U.S. head of tactical robots, said his police clients have never discussed using a robot lethally.


    “That’s not why they would buy a robot,” he said. “I have a feeling [Dallas] was a very desperate situation.”


    Eric Ivers, president of tactical-robot maker RoboteX Inc., said his law-enforcement clients have never seriously asked him about using the robot as a weapon. “In jest someone said, ‘Can you put a gun on it?’


    “Well, you can put a gun on anything,” Mr. Ivers said. “If someone asked us to sell to them for that purpose, we would almost certainly refuse.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/dallas-p...lly-1468001810

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