Cop Shoots Teen Holding Wii Controller In His Own Home

from the lack-of-control dept

We’ve seen some fairly extreme examples of police involved in shootings that were, shall we kindly say, questionable. Whether it’s charging the target of police firearms with assault over injuries incurred by bystanders, officers being given the opportunity to see the evidence in question of shootings before making their statements, or officers simply looking to destroy said evidence, there appears to be an epidemic of trigger finger in our nations protectors, even as the danger involved in their jobs dips to historic lows. It’s difficult to know just what is responsible for these stories. Are we simply able to hold LEOs to task due to more ubiquitous video surveillance? Is there an officer education problem? Is a police force more militarized than ever naturally going to exhibit more aggressive behavior?

Whatever the cause, we had damned well better figure it out, because the stories keep rolling in. The latest is the tragic tale of a Georgia teenager who wanted to serve his country and instead ended up getting served with a fatal wound for the apparent crime of having a video game controller in his hand.

The family of a 17-year-old shot and killed by a Euharlee police officer has hired an attorney, and they say he had a remote control in his hand. They say it was not a gun.

Christopher Roupe, 17, was in the ROTC at Woodland High School and wanted to join the Marines. His friends said he looked after them.

The officer who shot him reportedly exited the home shortly after shooting Roupe, sobbing into her hands, a clear sign of remorse. Hell, it sounds weak, but mistakes happen, even tragic mistakes like this. Remorse is the proper response. The response offered in the officer’s report of the incident, however, is not.

A female police officer told GBI investigators that Roupe pointed a gun at her when he opened the door.

“We don’t know where that statement came from. The eyewitnesses on the scene clearly state that he had a Wii controller in his hand. He heard a knock at the door. He asked who it was, there was no response so he opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest,” [attorney Cole] Law said.

Open the door with a controller in your hand and get a bullet in the chest. Then, to have the report deviate so completely from the eyewitness accounts just adds salt to the family’s wounds. At some point people are going to have to realize that, despite what your favorite news program would have you believe, violent crime continues to diminish, while shootings by police have remained static. That simply doesn’t make any sense.

That a young man who wanted to serve was caught by another officer with a trigger finger should sound the alarm that it’s damned time something was done.

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Comments on “Cop Shoots Teen Holding Wii Controller In His Own Home”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Here's what I want to know:

Why, exactly, did the officer have her gun drawn in the first place?

A Wii controller doesn’t look even remotely like a gun, and even a cursory glance will allow anyone to tell the difference, so to shoot him over that, she either already had the gun drawn when she knocked(an action that would raise even more questions), or took a glance, assumed it was a gun, drew, and fired without actually looking at the ‘weapon’.

Also problematic, the officer was apparently there to serve a ‘probation violation warrant’ to the kid’s father, and yet didn’t identify herself, or even respond at all, when her knock on the door got a ‘Who is it?’

If the father was really such a huge threat that the officer was that quick to pull and fire, why was there only one sent? Either the father has a nasty reputation, yet somehow they figured one officer would be enough, or she was insanely quick to go lethal.

Finally, while it’s nice that she apparently was remorseful over her actions immediately afterwards, the fact that she then turned around and lied about it on the report to try and cover her ass pretty effectively wipes away any sympathy I might have had. Mistakes happen, I get that, but when the ‘mistake’ gets someone killed, the absolute least the person who screwed up can do is own up to it and admit their responsibility, not try and shift the blame to the victim.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Here's what I want to know:

As local police get more militarized we can expect more of this type of story. Part of the militarization process is training regiments that see the public as the enemy. Ironically this forces citizens to see the militarized police as the enemy. We are in a very deadly spiral.

The police will usually justify this type of shooting as “Officer Safety” concerns. Where is the concern for “Citizen Safety?”

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re: Here's what I want to know:

Have your considered just for a moment that all of this is as a result of the actions of the public?

Police are scared, they don’t like taking risks with their lives or risks in violating the law or someone’s inalienable right to be a total jerkoff and get angry with the police at every turn. What use to be two cops showing up at a door more often now is a whole team, because they don’t know what is on the other side of the door and don’t want to end up dead or in serious shit.

I also have to say that the story stinks of one sided treatment. First off, the kid wasn’t sitting in his home randomly gunned down, he answered the door and apparently had the remote in hand in a manner that it could be seen, as least a bit. Second, while I don’t count it against them, you might want to also consider that this shooting took place in a trailer park, and it wasn’t a random situation – the father was getting served a warrant.

You don’t have any of the background of the story here at all: What about the area, what about the father, what about the warrant… was the officer expecting a violent felon who was being busted for probation violations? Is the father a past violent felon? Is there a reason why the cops were at the door with weapons drawn? Did they perhaps knock repeatedly and announce themselves, but the kid didn’t hear them because the video game was too loud? Did he only answer after they had just about busted the door down?

You see, you don’t know – and so there is the potential that there is very much more to the story than what is being presented by the family’s attorney, who will most certainly paint the kid as a little angel and absolute leave out everything about his father. It’s pretty amazing because through all the reporting, there isn’t any mention of his father’s name – so there is no easy way for us to figure out the other pieces of the puzzle.

My guess is that he didn’t think it was a cop, opened the door like he thought it was one of his friends and did something to startle the officer who already had her gun drawn against the risk of the convicted felon answering the door, and gave her only a very short period of time to take the fatal action.

That doesn’t make for a very good “bad cops!” story, but it reads much more believable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Here's what I want to know:

“Have your considered just for a moment that all of this is as a result of the actions of the public?”

Yeah, it’s the public! They’re all criminals! It’s the good guys (the cops) against the bad guys (the public). Why can’t people understand this? Well, it’s because most of them are the bad guys (the public)!

Pamela Garrett says:

Re: Re: Re: Here's what I want to know:

Exactly why they should have sent more than 1 officer to serve the warrant!

By the way, Policeman being shot are down by a good percentage while citizen deaths are rising!

I’ve always had respect for law enforcement, however, lately I’ve started to question my respect. There are just too many innocent people being hurt or killed by police officers that are sworn to “Protect and Serve”.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Here's what I want to know:

How about this then: Illinois gets rid of the law, and replaces it with one that strips police of their immunity, so if they shoot someone while on the job, they are investigated, tried, and jailed just like what anyone else would have to face, no more ‘internal investigation, slap on the wrist’ treatment.

Also, gotta love the hypocrisy of the “open season on police officers” idea. As opposed to the ‘open season on citizens, pets, and anything else within range’ they currently enjoy?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: It's not complicated

As a sort of ‘continuation’ of that idea, it might be worth looking into making police work less a lifelong career, and more a temporary one, or at least cycle officers between positions, from ‘dangerous but active’ work out driving and answering calls, to ‘safe but boring’ desk-work, where the greatest ‘threat’ they face is carpal tunnel.

So for example they’d do X number of years out in the ‘field’, say 5, and then they get reassigned to a desk job for the same number of years, then back out, and so on. This would allow them time to ‘cool off’, and help reduce the mindset where they’d start to see everyone else as a potential threat simply because it was safer that way, by replacing it with a nice, safe, yet boring job for a few years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's not complicated

Especially women are bound to act like this. Female cops that is. Sorry, just the truth. Their threshold for feeling threatened or scared is in GENERAL much lower and we had a study done in my canadian province showing just that.

Cops should not have guns. Batons and tazers maybe. That’s it.

Angel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's not complicated

Perhaps I am acquainted with it and chose to exercise it in my reply.

That being said, this website is not the United States, it’s privately owned and the concept of free speech does not apply here. The only comments allowed are those the techdirt staff deem appropriate. Should they choose to remove them then they have that right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's not complicated

That might seem a natural assumption that a lone policewoman would be the most likely to panic and go for her gun … until you stop to think about the fact that in many police shootings of an unarmed person, there were several other policemen at the scene, and often times joining in the shooting.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: It's not complicated

If they are that fearful to be going into unknown situations then their is an underlying psychological problem that needs to be sorted out..

All military around the world get through this fear (which doesn’t mean its not present just controlled) by training, training, and more TRAINING.

If by then there is still a fear problem, then the individual has a disposition that shows they should NOT be doing that kind of work nor be placed in that situations (this would result in a breach of Duty of Care by their superiors)

Also the BUDDY SYSTEM is used by military, LEO’s, community health and welfare officers, even Tax officials the world over. So for her to be on her own and state she was fearful of the ‘unknown’ means she is also at fault for not insisting on another officer at the time of attendance.

Also a bit of due diligence on ‘unknown’ situations goes a long long way to protect all sides. who’d a think it hey!

Mistakes are ONLY understandable if there was no reasonable way in which they were not foreseeable in each situation. This is a foreseeable and based on your response known fearful instance and therefore this mistake should NEVER be made since it should be trained out of them.

To state otherwise or to call it a ‘mistake’ is only adding more apathy to the innate problem.

JMT says:

Re: It's not complicated

No, continuing to work as an armed LEO when you’re scared all the time would NOT be understandable, it would be irresponsible and stupid. In fact, superior officers allowing someone to keep working under those conditions would also be irresponsible and stupid.

I think you’re wrong however. I don’t think they all live in fear of their lives, it seems more likely they’re poorly selected and poorly trained.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: It's not complicated

Yet driving a taxi is more likely to get you killed. But a cab driver wouldn’t be granted even a fraction as much leeway, should they ever shoot anyone on the job — whether or not their was a credible threat.

Something is clearly out of whack — probably either misdirected training, or paranoid law enforcement culture, or likely both.

jim says:

Remember, this a lawyer

Something doesn’t ring true about this story. The source TechDirt is quoting is the victim’s family’s lawyer. The presented information is almost certainly spun to suite his case.

I don’t doubt that the kid’s shooting was a mistake / accident and a huge problem, but it seems obvious to me there mare more details here then “kid opens door holding wii remote and gets shot by police officer.” The officer is probably still in the wrong, but I’d like to hear the rest of the details before climbing on my soap box.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Re: Remember, this a lawyer

WSBTV is a local ABC affiliate in Atlanta and Euharlee is small town in the northwest metro area. The various reports indicate the kid was holding something in his hand. Most reports state it was Wii controller and a couple state it was a BB gun. He never fired a shot. At best the officer panicked and shot someone holding a BB gun. But there are no reports the kid provoked or threatened the officer, just that he opened the door and was almost immediately shot.

A several of the local PDs (using the term very loosely) are known to be trigger happy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Remember, this a lawyer

Note, the officer knocked on the door and waited for a response. This is not the action of police officers who suspects that the occupants of the house may be dangerous. Police burst into house and shoot person holding a controller is a mistake. Police shoot person opening the door holding something after knocking is a panicking officer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Remember, this a lawyer

Lawyers have way less reason to lie when they’re already in a situation with evidence heavily on their side. The only defense this policewoman has is that they were just following orders… err procedures which were apparently written by someone so paranoid that General Ripper would tell them to chill out.

DocRambo (profile) says:

Re: Remember, this a lawyer

From family accounts, 17 yo was getting ready to watch movie with Wii controller in hand as he answered door. He was shot immediately. Cop terrorized little sister as she tried to help him, and she let kid bleed out on floor without trying to put pressure on wound or anything. Not a mistake. Not accidental. Gun was drawn and pointed as kid answered door. Warrant was for a misdemeanor. Out of control, poorly trained inept female POS LEO. If she had any honor, seppuku would be the best option.

zip says:

“violent crime continues to diminish, while shootings by police have remained static.”

Although I’ve not seen any statistics on this, I’d have a hard time believing that police shootings of pet dogs is anything but way up. I’ve seen reports that indicate police shootings in rural areas and small towns is an upwardly-trending statistic.

However, it seems that the FBI, despite tracking, assembling, and publishing a massive number of crime and police related statistics of every sort imaginable, for some strange reason does not compile ‘death-by-police’ statistics — or at least doesn’t release them publicly.

Jack says:

Re: Re:

There is a reason for this – they don’t want to release those statistics because they would cause a huge backlash from the general public. If violent crime statistics were graphed over police involved shootings and police killings on a per-capita basis, it should be shocking to even the most hardcore bootlickers.

Since there is no federal repository for this information there is no definitive data, but from the data people like collect, it appears this exactly the case.

And there probably never will be with the power the police unions and lobbys wield.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I think there’s more to this story than was reported in the article. But, Tim leaves out one important thing:

“crime and violence in the country is on a decline while crime and violence inflicted on Americans by police officer is on the rise”

I take exception to police violence being static. If anything, it’s on the rise and rapidly growing out of control. I’m loathe to say this but if police officers keep randomly shooting Americans, because they have a quota on how many lawsuits they can get filed against their own police departments, then there’s something seriously screwed up.

pcdec says:

As far as women feeling threatened sooner/more often than males I would agree.

And as far as the “male cops are worse” comments…
“in the United States, women today make up only 13 percent of the force”

Yea you guys failed to realize the obvious…way more male cops. Not to mention the males are more gung-ho and hold higher rank so they call the shots more often.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am sure we don’t have all the info. There has to be some reason the cop was on edge to have her gun drawn at the door.

Most cop beats have buddy teams. I guess these trying economic times means cops get their training on the job instead of police academy. However something is wrong with this story and it’s facts leading up to the event. It’s just not all there to make any sort of call on opinion.

This write up appears to have an author that is very sensitive to the fact that increasingly it’s the citizens that are getting killed and wounded and we are in no sort of civil war to set this type of back ground behavior.

Yet the cops and our government appear to be setting up for just this type of civil war scenario. That DHS needs enough ammo to fight the Afghanistan war for 20 years and calls it cheaper in bulk doesn’t float as a reason. Nor does it float for the IRS department for buying huge amounts of ammo and last but not least, why is the US Postal Service buying sniper ammo? I mean it is not like the USPS has a daily job of setting out snipers to deliver the mail. All of this along with all the spying is setting up an us against them mentality that appears to be playing out in the streets and homes of this nation before there is any warfare.

When did we become Russia or China?

David says:

Re: Re:

I am sure we don’t have all the info. There has to be some reason the cop was on edge to have her gun drawn at the door.

Well, the information is “probation violation”. That means she likely was supposed to bring him in, and he might be a troublemaker.

So she might want to surprise him, and might not want to identify herself in order to keep him from opening the door. And make sure he does not close the door on her again.

That’s perfectly consistent with a drawn weapon and being on edge. It’s not consistent with safety off.

Anonymous Coward says:

where is money spent

in other countries police travel in pairs, in America, to keep costs down police operate in isolation.

in a land where there are more handguns than people, you have to wonder what sort of workplace pressure that policewoman was under to show how tough she was to confront some individual at home, at night, over some minor issue, alone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Remember: cops are cowards

They’re frightened, whining, lying cowards. So of course they shoot, they taser, they pepper-spray, they beat: they’re scared out of their tiny minds.

With that in mind, none of these stories are surprising. Cowards panic. Cowards over-react. Cowards “protect” themselves even when there’s no real threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s the fault of the morons who keep training these guys. They are the ones that basically tell them to SHOOT FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER – anything to protect their own safety!

It used to be that cops had to be DAMN SURE that someone had gun before taking out theirs and starting shooting. Now at the slightest hand move they shoot fatally. Clearly it’s a problem of training and the culture formed in police departments over the past years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Way too little info about the kid.
I always use the opportunities to shittalk about the cops because they are idiots, and that max-iq barrier they have on recruitment is just sad, but in this case the cop was either very incompetent or she had a reason to believe that the kid would kill her.
Anyway just sayin the media always forgets to mention little details, so dont be too quick to judge.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is murder. Charges need to be filed, and this officer locked up for 20 to life. Even if he happened to be holding a BB gun, which he would have dropped had the officer identified herself, there is no reason to shoot him. If he’s holding a BB gun, the maximum allowable response should be “Drop the weapon!” and maybe draw your own but DO NOT FIRE.

rycho (profile) says:

Back to the drawing board

Looks like Nintendo will have to update their Wii – Health and Safety Precautions instructions sheet.

WARNING – Opening Your Front Door
Give yourself plenty of room. You will probably be shot by Police while answering the front door while using the Wii Remote, so be careful that all areas that you might move into are clear of other family members. Make sure that furniture, objects and people are out of the kill zone so you don?t accidentally bump into them while falling to your death. Also, as indicated in the Wii Operations Manual, it is recommended to stay at least three (3) feet from Police holding firearms. To avoid sudden death, make sure you remove the Wii controller safety strap from your wrist and place the controller down before answering the front door.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The officer who shot him reportedly exited the home shortly after shooting Roupe, sobbing into her hands, a clear sign of remorse. Hell, it sounds weak, but mistakes happen, even tragic mistakes like this. Remorse is the proper response.”

The hell it is the proper response. The proper response is to immediately call for a medical team and provide assistance not run out crying in saying your sorry.

Anonymous Coward says:

until there is a reigning in of powers for police officers and make them punishable for the crimes they commit, rather than as it is now, have a load of lies posted and witness statements written that condone the actions, there will be no change. the covering up and willful harassment of witnesses to an incident needs to be dealt with in the most extreme wat possible. if nothing is done, things will get worse! has a person got to get shot as soon as the door is opened, even before what he is holding has been identified? oops! too late! already happened!

KissMyWookiee (profile) says:

If he was black...

If he had been black it would be getting a hell of a lot more press. The race-baiters called Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be on every news channel there is. Even the racist gun-runner Eric (With)Holder might be threatening to look into pressing federal charges. The Destroyer In Chief would likely be shedding more crocodile tears in the rose garden, telling stories of how white people hate blacks that play video games.

Instead, the innocent victim happened to be white, so nothing can be gained politically from the shit-stirrers and the media couldn’t care less.

At what point will something be done about police militarization? I heard one the other day refer to other cops as “the troops”.

Will people take notice when a kindergarten is raided with flashbangs and tear-gas? (“I caught a whiff of a foul smell down wind… my dog gave the appropriate sign I ordered it to… we thought it was a meth-lab and that the GI Joe dolls were heavily armed militia members”)

The fact is, when your own colleagues are the ones who investigate the fatal abuses of power, then you can be certain they’ll cover your back. You’ll even get to retire early on a comfy disability pension – you know, because of all the stress you endured after killing an unarmed innocent person.

When will those with their hands on the purse strings finally say “enough is enough”?

If Ruby Ridge or Waco is anything to go by then they never will reign in “the troops”.

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