BOSTON — As the former Superintendent-in-Chief of the Boston Police Department, Dan Linskey knows how much training can impact a split-second decision for an officer. He believes a lack of training led to the fatal officer-involved shooting in Minnesota this weekend.
“If you haven’t trained in a while, and you haven’t pulled your taser out, this is the first time you used your taser since training. Three years have gone by since you’ve trained, pulling that in and out in distress, those mistakes can happen,” Linskey said.
Linskey said it’s clear in the bodycam footage that this officer in Minnesota thought she was using her taser when she shot and killed a man following a traffic stop.
“You can tell by her reaction, she went to her training as far as giving the warning for the taser, going through the taser protocols and she was surprised and startled when that gun fired,” Linskey said.
But how does an officer make that mistake? Linskey said officers usually carry their taser on the opposite hip from their firearm. Plus, he said the weight and color of the taser are very different from a gun.
The front of the taser is bright yellow, but he said this officer likely didn’t notice those differences because of the amount of stress she was in.
“The challenge is, when you’re under stress, if you haven’t trained enough, you lose all your fine motor skills; you aren’t hearing things, you aren’t seeing things,” Linskey said. “It’s called auditory exclusion and tunnel vision, and the reason you have tunnel vision is because you are now in fear.”
Linskey said that fear was sparked once the driver resisted his arrest.
“You shouldn’t resist; however, resisting shouldn’t result in a death sentence, and it’s a tragedy for everyone involved,” Linskey said.
Linskey said the more training an officer has, the more muscle memory they’ll have to reach for the right weapon in a situation like that.