Bell County, TX -- The following graphic account of an officer-involved shooting from August 30, 2016, serves to illustrate the failures of modern-day policing, officer training, and complexities of demanding 100 percent compliance of the general population during a traffic stop. From the just released dash camera footage of Bell County, Texas Sheriff’s Cpl. Shane Geers, one can see the officer was in pursuit of a small dark colored SUV, sirens blazing.
The man in the SUV was 59-year-old, Lyle P. Blanchard, a US Navy veteran. While it appears Geers was following a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, the two vehicles weren't going all that fast. Geers must have noticed an officer was following him, so he decided to pull over, as nearly all driver's education courses teach us to do. That's where the story begins, but it does not end that way for either man.
Blanchard seemed a bit antsy, some might even say jumpy. Not content to wait until the officer walked up to his window, the man who was nearly a senior citizen, opened his driver's side car door. Still a bit uneasy apparently, Blanchard then exits his vehicle and faces Geers. He can be seen fidgeting with his back pocket before putting his hand inside his front pocket, in what seemed to be an attempt to retrieve his identification.
Geers saw something completely different. He must have seen a man reaching into his front pocket to retrieve a gun. And just like he was taught at the academy, supposedly, when confronted with a threat, one must stop the threat by firing one's weapon into the torso of the aggressor. That's just what Geers did. He opened fire on Blanchard who seemed to be a bit surprised he'd been shot. The middle-aged man turned away from the gunfire before falling down in a hail of gunfire. Just before he stopped moving, viewers can clearly see Blanchard expire, in one final relaxing of his muscles.
Almost immediately, it looks like Geers knew he'd killed a man and seemed to already be struggling with that fact. He even fell to his knees and looked to be praying. After walking over to the body, he checked to see if Blanchard had a pulse. In a word, Geers appeared angry, possibly angry that Blanchard did not comply 100 percent with his verbal commands, and potentially angry that he'd killed a man in the line of duty. When he couldn't find a weapon, maybe he knew the situation had gone from bad to worse.
The fact of the matter is, Geers was trained to act in this exact manner. Police officers are trained to shoot when they perceive a threat or they fear their life is in danger -- and they are trained to fear almost everything. After all, they have families to go home to, and no one will ever come between them returning home to their loved ones. And those training videos at many academies show real-world encounters with bad guys who are often successful in separating officers and their families in an act of rage.
In a previous interview with The Free Thought Project, whistleblower cop Alex Salazar gives important insight into the training, specifically use of deadly force simulations, and how they are designed to instill this fear:
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“THESE SCENARIOS ARE DESIGNED TO MAKE ANY PERSON FAIL AND TO CAUSE THEM TO BELIEVE THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS.
THE PROFESSION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IS DIFFICULT AT TIMES, BUT THE EXCESSIVE BRAINWASHING ON A DAILY BASIS TAKING PLACE, THAT YOU MAY DIE, IS TOO EXTREME AND GIVES MANY THE BELIEF IT IS OK TO USE DEADLY FORCE. IN MANY OF THESE SITUATIONS, TAMIR RICE OR ANDY LOPEZ COMES TO MIND, THESE OFFICER'S JUST WANTED TO PLAIN SHOOT AND KILL.”
Salazar went on to say,
“IT’S A BRAINWASHING MECHANISM TO GET YOU OVER TO THEIR SIDE, TO START THINKING ABOUT KILLING. IN WHAT THEY CALL THE ‘FATS SIMULATOR’ (FIREARMS AND TRAINING SIMULATOR), YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY DESIGNED TO DIE... YES IT'S A GAME AND USEFUL FOR TRAINING. BUT they're PRE-DESIGNED SCENARIOS, WHICH ARE PSYCHOLOGICALLY MADE TO MAKE YOU THINK AND PERCEIVE THINGS DIFFERENTLY. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TRAINING. EVERY RECRUIT, I DON'T CARE IF THEY'RE AN EX-BADASS NAVY SEAL... EVERYONE DIES.
The reality is that Geers was following standard operating procedure and will likely not see one day in prison. Blanchard's death is symbolic of the social injustices which exist in modern day policing.
Now, two lives are devastated by the shooting which could have been avoided had Geers allowed Blanchard to retrieve whatever it is he had in his pocket. But that would not be standard operating procedure. Police officers all across America's law enforcement officers must understand that adults and children will likely never be 100 percent compliant with officer commands so something has to give. Geers shot too soon, and shot before learning what real threats he was facing.
Geers was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in February, yet the question still remains. Was the shooting justified?