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'Distance and Cover'



Tommy McClain would still be alive today if the EPD had not decided to harass him on the morning of Sept. 17, 2014 (NCJ Daily, Nov. 24). Tommy had no police record and nobody had called to complain about him. He was standing peacefully on his porch before [then-] Sgt. Stephens drew his gun commanding Tommy to walk toward him.

The problem I have with the jury's decision is this: If they agree that officer Linfoot's negligence — his violation of tactic and command protocols — caused the chaotic and dangerous situation that resulted in him killing McClain, then any force he used should, ipso facto, be considered excessive and unnecessary.

In this I agree with the plaintiff's expert witness Mr. Clark. If Linfoot and Stephens had followed their POST (Police Officer Standards and Training, mandatory for all California Police Officers) and remained in cover (positioning themselves behind their cars or a close by telephone pole) they would have had more time to talk with McClain and from a greater distance, and with less anxiety and fear of personal injury or death.

Clark testified that "distance and cover equals time." Remaining in cover would have given the officers time to ask McClain about the gun they thought he had in his waistband. McClain would have had the time to tell them it was a replica pellet gun and that it wasn't loaded. The situation could have been deescalated, resulting in a peaceful resolution and McClain would not have been killed. Also, as per POST, if only one officer had done the talking with McClain, then ambiguous, contradictory and confusing commands would have been less likely to have contributed to the fatal outcome.

Even this partial justice only came about through the work of community members organized to keep an eye on the police, www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net.

Robin M. Donald, Fortuna

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