Why the Drone-Like Execution of Dallas Shooter by Police Should Alarm Us

Micah Xavier Johnson, the mass shooter killed by a Dallas Police robot, in a photo from his Facebook page. The deployment of a robot bomb in Dallas on July 7 was the first time American police officers have used a robot to kill someone. (photo: Micah X. Johnson/Facebook/Reuters)

n July 7, Dallas police officers used a bomb robot to kill the suspected perpetrator of a shooting that left five Dallas-area police officers dead and seven others wounded. Two citizens were also wounded in the shooting.

While police have used robots to deliver chemical agents and pizza, it looks as if the deployment of the robot bomb on Thursday night was the first time American police officers have used a robot to kill someone.

Police reportedly used the robot after hours of negotiation with the suspect broke down.According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.” He went on to say, “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger.”

The death of the alleged shooter in Dallas should prompt us to think carefully about how new technologies will be used by police to deliver lethal force. Robots like the one used by Dallas police are used by police departments across the country as part of bomb squads. But it’s worth keeping in mind that these robots will continue to improve, making it easier for police to use them in situations like the standoff in Dallas.

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