Former police officer explains why he didn't shoot a woman who ran at him with a knife

The question of when cops are justified in using deadly force is a tricky one.

Some circumstances are clear cut—if a gunman is actively firing on a crowd of people, for example, we'd all agree that a police officer shooting them would be the right thing to do. But other circumstances are much fuzzier and elicit tough questions. Should an officer shoot if just their own life is in danger? Most would agree they have a right to self-defense. But how is that determination made? What if an officer *thinks* someone has a weapon, but isn't sure? What if a person appears threatening, but clearly is having a mental breakdown? That's where things get gray real quick.

Most of us have never been in one of those situations and never will be. So one way those of us who don't wear a badge can explore those gray areas is by listening to the stories of those who have.

J.J. Hensley is a former police officer as well as a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service. If anyone knows the constant vigilance and readiness law enforcement requires, it's him. And he shared a personal story on Twitter that exemplifies how not-so-clear-cut armed encounters can be, even with people who have weapons and are not complying with officer orders.

Hensley wrote:


"A woman ran at me with a knife once. I was responding to a domestic and she flew out the front door, huge knife in hand, & came right at me. I drew my weapon, yelled 'police,' told her to drop the knife. She didn't. At some point, I'd drawn my weapon.

I don't know why I didn't shoot. I could have shot her. If I would have, I would been cleared. In fact, I may have been given a citation for bravery or some nonsense for what would have been a reflexive reaction to my training. But, I didn't shoot at the first opportunity."

"The woman veered off & ran around me, straight to her car. She jumped in behind the wheel, still holding the knife. The next thing I knew I was at the side window. I didn't shoot. I extended my baton, broke the window, and told her to drop the knife and get out. I didn't shoot.

She screamed and started the car. I didn't shoot. The car moved. I didn't shoot. A short pursuit ensued and she was taken into custody. When I asked her why she ran at me with the knife, she had no idea what I was talking about."

"In her extreme distress, she had run out of the house, tears flooding her eyes, intending to harm herself and never saw me on the walkway in front of the house. I could have shot her. That was in the middle of the night in 1998 or 1999 and I still think about that incident.

So, why? Why didn't I shoot her? She was certainly a threat to my life. She was potentially close enough to stab or slash me before I could stop her. I think this is why - In my heart, I didn't WANT to shoot anyone. I didn't go into law enforcement looking to shoot anyone."

"In addition to the 'us vs them' mentality that is drilled into those who enter the profession, I think something else is happening today. I don't think it's the training (my current profession). I think it's the hiring and the culture.

Until major police reform that includes national training and pay standards is addressed, we are going to continue to see a real problem in this nation. Law enforcement needs to be a true profession. Simply batting off criticism with 'Back the Badge' memes isn't the answer."

"Call it want you want: 'Reform,' 'Defund,' 'Restructure'... it doesn't matter. A major ideological shift has to occur or the 'us vs them' mantra in policing will become a reality and the 'us' isn't going to be a pretty picture."

Hensley also shared an article he wrote about police reform after the killing of George Floyd. He talks about the difference between the need for a change in training and a change of culture. He shares the speech the nation needed to hear from its president. And he concludes with, "I have spent nearly my entire adult life in and around law enforcement, and officers and agents are vocal in their complaints about their agencies and departments, yet no other profession, to include the rank and file, fights change as much as law enforcement." That time has to come to an end.You can read it here.

Thanks you, Mr. Hensley, for sharing your expertise to help those of us who know change needs to happen—but don't have the experience to know what that change should look like—understand the issues more clearly.

via USO

Army Capt. Justin Meredith used the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to read to his son and family while deployed in the Middle East.

True

One of the biggest challenges deployed service members face is the feeling of being separated from their families, especially when they have children. It's also very stressful for children to be away from parents who are deployed for long periods of time.

For the past four years, the USO has brought deployed service members and their families closer through a wonderful program that allows them to read together. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program gives deployed service members the ability to choose a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child.

Keep Reading Show less

Cayce LaCorte explains why virginity doesn't exist.

The concept of virginity is a very loaded issue in American culture. If a woman loses hers when she's too young she can be slut-shamed. If a man remains a virgin for too long, he can be bullied for not being manly enough.

There is also a whole slew of religious mind games associated with virginity that can give people some serious psychological problems associated with sex.

Losing one's virginity has also been blown up way beyond proportion. It's often believed that it's a magical experience—it's usually not. Or that after having sex for the first time people can really start to enjoy living life—not the case.

What if we just dropped all of the stigmas surrounding virginity and instead, replaced them with healthy attitudes toward sex and relationships?

Writer Cayce LaCorte is going viral on TikTok for the simple way she's taught her five daughters to think about virginity. They don't have to. LaCorte shared her parenting ideas on TikTok in response to mom-influencer Nevada Shareef's question: "Name something about the way you raised your kids that people think is weird but you think is healthy."

Keep Reading Show less

@bluffbakes on Tiktok

Chloe Sexton—baker, business owner, mother—knows all too well about "daddy privilege," that is, when men receive exorbitant amounts of praise for doing normal parental duties. You know, the ones that moms do without so much as a thank you.

In a lighthearted (while nonetheless biting) TikTok video, Chloe shares a "fun little story about 'daddy privilege'" that has now gone viral—no doubt due in part because working moms can relate to this on a deep, personal and infuriating level.

Chloe's TED Talks-worthy rant begins with:

"My husband has a job. I have a business, my husband has a job. Could not make that any clearer, right? Well, my bakery requires that we buy certain wholesale ingredients at this place called Restaurant Depot every week. You've seen me do videos of it before where I'm, like, wearing him or was massively pregnant buying 400 pounds of flour and 100 pounds of butter, and that's a weekly thing. The list goes on and on, like — it's a lot."
Keep Reading Show less

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

Keep Reading Show less