Kenosha, WI — Officer Pablo Torres was “justified” in killing Kenosha, Wisconsin resident Aaron Siler a year ago because the officer “reasonably believed” that the victim, who was “armed” with a five-gallon plastic bucket, posed a potentially lethal threat, according to Kenosha County DA Robert Zapf.
Zapf’s ruling focused on Torres’s subjective perception of a threat, maintaining that “the standard is what an ordinary, prudent, and reasonably intelligent officer would have believed in Officer Torres’s position, having the knowledge and training that Officer Torres possessed, and acting under the circumstances that existed at the time of the shooting.”
On the evidence of this incident — among countless other very similar ones — the “knowledge and training” provided to Torres represent a net subtraction from his ability to make reasoned, appropriate decisions, given that non-police witnesses on the scene clearly and accurately perceived that Siler did not pose a lethal threat.
Siler, who was wanted on a probation warrant in a domestic violence case, was pursued by Torres into a garage. According to the official police account following the shooting, Siler “brandished a weapon,” thereby forcing Torres to fire in self-defense. Torres later claimed that he thought Siler had threatened him with a pipe. In another version of the story, Siler supposedly wielded a metal jack handle. In yet another account, Siler supposedly pulled a knife. Eyewitnesses testified that the victim briefly lifted the jack, then dropped it and grabbed a bucket. DNA evidence from the scene backs up the account with the bucket.
Once the court settled on the ‘bucket’ version of their story, use of force expert, Emanuel Kapelsohn, whose fees range in the tens of thousands of dollars for clearing killer cops, was called in to get this killer cop cleared.
According to Kaphelsohn, an empty five-gallon bucket is, indeed, a seriously dangerous weapon.
“The officer said had he seen the bucket. He would`ve had no way to know whether it was empty or whether it contained something,” Kapelsohn said.
Kapelsohn even made a video in an attempt to convince the court of how deadly a bucket can be. You really cannot make this stuff up. If the video below wasn’t part of clearing a cop in the death of an unarmed man, it would be hilarious. However, this ridiculous display was very real and apparently very effective.
“Kapelsohn could take a Kleenex, and if the officer said he was afraid of it, he could find a way to manipulate it to show it was a dangerous weapon,” said Michael Bell, who has been a police accountability activist since Kenosha police shot and killed his son in 2004.
Kapelsohn was also called in and paid $30,000 to clear Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney of charges after he killed Dontre Hamilton in 2014.
Torres gunned down Siler on his first day back on patrol after a vacation given to him following a previous fatal shooting in another residential garage ten days earlier. His victim was a suicidal Vietnam vet who was trying to kill himself.
During that ten day period, Torres was ironically provided with use of force training in response to shooting the suicidal veteran; a lot of good it did.
Torres remains on paid vacation as the department conducts their own review.