Stephen Whitaker was correct in questioning the manner in which a Montpelier police officer shot and killed Mark Johnson, a disturbed, older man who was holding a pellet gun when he was shot twice with a high-caliber rifle.

Montpelier is a small community and the police were aware of Johnson and knew, or should have known, he did not present a serious threat.

A cursory investigation found the shooting was justified but, as we all know, it is unusual for police officers to be held accountable in these cases. And, we also know a badge is not a license to kill and not everyone has the proper temperament to be a police officer, whose stated job is to "protect and serve."

There had to be a better way to end the confrontation with Johnson other than killing him.

Strat Douthat


(3) comments

strat douthat

And, neither were you, Mr. P. Also, it was daylight (early morning) when the fatal shooting took place. And, yes, tis easy to second-guess and say there should have been a better way and more humane outcome, because there should have been.

Bob P

Sorry, but when someone has a firearm pointed at you, whether you are a Police officer or not, options are very limited. I guess the officers could have waited to see if they themselves would have been shot, or maybe just let the possibility of the guy take random shots into nearby houses. Again, once a firearm is pointed at an officer, and repeated attempts to get to person to drop it, options are limited.

Bob P

The statement that just because Mr. Johnson was know to them, they should have known he was not a threat really amazes me. Sadly, Police had no way of knowing that the firearm that Mr. Johnson was indeed fake, and when repeated attempts to get him to drop it, and then pointing it at the officers they were left with little choice. The police are here to protect and serve, but they have just as right as the rest of us to go home after their shift ends. Seems its pretty easy to armchair quarterback, but then again you were not on that bridge at night with a very real firearm pointed at you.

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