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.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

Keep Reading Show less