The above words from the movie The Terminator made popular by Arnold Schwarzenegger are well known to movie goers everywhere, but what occurred in Dallas, TX on Friday last was no movie. It was shockingly real. And in the end, the sniper, Micah Xavier Johnson, a supposedly deranged human being, was blown to smithereens.
According to an article in the New York Times, Dallas police chief, David O. Brown, said, “Other options would have exposed the officers to grave danger.” The article went on to say that some law enforcement officers were stunned by the decision to use the robot, while others supported it. Without being present at the scene, it's hard to say what really went down on a night when emotions were raw and officers were expected to act.
Others have questioned whether the robot could have been used to deliver some type of non-lethal substance that would have knocked out the gunman and allowed the officers to take him alive. The NY Times article cites two examples where robots were used as assistive devices rather than destructive:
- To take pizza and a cellphone to a man with a knife who threatened to jump off a bridge in San Jose, California.
- To “deploy chemical munitions,” to a man who had barricaded himself in a motel room with a gun.
In a hospital where I worked some years ago, a robot - a very polite one, I might add - was used to deliver medications from floor to floor.
Were the officers who dispatched that robot justified in their actions? Was the sniper justified? Were the two white police officers who killed the two black men justified? As has happened in the past, there may be no legal consequences for these actions. Only God has the answers.
It's no coincidence that our scripture reading in church this morning was from the Sermon on the Mount. One of the things Jesus taught was, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5: 9). He also said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (43 - 44)
We must do no less.
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