On Monday, Vaud police confirmed that a man had been fatally shot by a police officier on Sunday evening. In a police communiqué they said that two police teams had responded to a call regarding a disruptive tenant in a building in the town of Bex in Vaud, Switzerland. When the individual rushed towards them with a knife in his hand, a policeman fired his gun, wounding the man. Despite police and emergency services efforts to save the man, he died at the scene.
At around 22:10 on Sunday night, a resident in the building called the police to say that another tenant had forced open the door of an apartment below their’s. Two police units arrived at the scene and approached the individual, a 27 year old man from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The man came out armed with a kitchen knife, running in the direction of the police who were in the stairwell. After exclaiming “Stop police” a police officer fired his gun several times in the direction of the armed man. Wounded, the man was immediately helped by the officiers who called emergency services. After he lost consciousness the police started cardiac massage, however, he died at the scene shortly afterwards.
A legal investigation is now underway to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the death of the 27 year old father.
According to Tribune de Genève, there are only three situations where the police can legally use a firearm. Self defense, when a third party’s life is threatened, or when their objectives must be met, for example if they are trying to stop a serial killer who would otherwise escape. This case falls into the category of self defense.
A police officer speaking anonymously to Tribune de Genève, said officers are trained to shoot on reflex. Guns are used to incapacitate. At that distance and that speed there isn’t enough time to act consciously. Police wearing ties who pull out their guns, get up close, and nab their aggressors is something that only happens in films. We are taught to aim at the chest and shoot.
Some are asking why a taser gun could not have been used instead. “Ignoring this case, this discussion has already taken place during a conference held by Swiss cantonal police commanders, which resulted in some new guidelines”, said Vaud police spokesperson, Jean-Christophe Sauterel. Currently, this non-lethal weapon is only used by rapid response units like Vaud’s DARD.