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Was the use of a ‘robot bomb’ to end the standoff with the Dallas shooter ethical?




Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (R) looks on during a press conference at Dallas City Hall as Dallas Police Chief David Brown speaks on the fatal shootings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (R) looks on during a press conference at Dallas City Hall as Dallas Police Chief David Brown speaks on the fatal shootings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.
Stewart F. House/Getty Images

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In interviews over the weekend, Dallas Police Chief David Brown defended his department’s use of a bomb mounted on a robot to kill suspected Dallas shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, arguing that he would approve the use of the tactic again if given the chance.

Johnson is suspected of killing five police officers and wounding seven others at a march against police violence against African Americans last Thursday in Dallas.  The incident is believed to be the first time law enforcement in the US have used a robot to kill a suspect.

But was use of deadly force via a ‘robot bomb’ ethically sound in this circumstance? Why couldn’t police have used some kind of non-lethal gas or other agent to knock out the suspect rather than kill him? Does this new tactic of using robots as a lethal weapon blur the lines between policing and warfare?

Guests:

Lt. Col (U.S. Army, ret.) Jeffrey Addicott, professor of law and director of the Center for Terrorism Law at the St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, TX

Gloria Browne-Marshall, Associate professor of constitutional law,  John Jay College of Criminal Justice