Officer Corey Pitts deserves your salute

Written by on May 23, 2019

Theirs is one the most difficult jobs. But police officers must be held to the highest standards. Where officers fall short, they must be held to account.

Yet, as is most of the time in America, we should salute police officers when serve well under immense pressure. I’ve previously written on such officers, but today I want to draw your attention to a very different kind of cop — officer Corey Pitts of the San Diego Police Department. Because we’ve just received video evidence of what happened on August 8, 2018 when Pitts was confronted with a lethal threat.

And we’ve seen why Corey Pitts is a tribute to the blue uniform.

It began with a desperate 911 call that a man armed with a weapon was attacking another individual. Officer Corey Pitts was the first to arrive on scene. There, he was confronted by a shirtless man bearing a long metal chain. The man, later identified as Vaughn Denham, ran at Pitts, who retreated behind his police car. Denham aggressively struck the car’s hood with his chain and then advanced toward Pitts with the apparent intention of striking him. Pitts drew his taser and fired. The taser was ineffective. Facing a threat to his life, Pitts had used minimal force. But that force had failed. So Pitts faced a choice: whether to use his firearm or to try alternate means of resolving the situation.

We must note that at this point Pitts would have been legally justified in using his firearm. The taser had failed, an armed Denham was approaching aggressively, and Pitts was responding to a report that Denham had already struck another individual (who was later found to have been seriously injured).

But instead of firing his weapon, Pitts retreated while holding Denham at gunpoint. Under great pressure, Pitts repeatedly warned Denham that he would be shot if he continued advancing and did not drop the chain. Pitts continued to call for backup and accurately relayed his position. But Denham kept swinging his weapon. He closed the distance with Pitts. Eighty seconds after first deploying his taser, Pitts fired two rounds from his handgun. Denham was hit and fell to the ground. The published video of the incident ends here but the investigation report shows that Denham then attempted to regain his footing. Pitts and another just-arriving officer handcuffed Denham and provided medical attention. Sadly, their efforts were in vain: Denham died.

Nevertheless, this is a story of excellent everyday policing under the most trying of circumstances. Pitts was alone facing an armed attacker. He knew that if Denham was able to strike him, he might lose control of his firearm and be killed. But he didn’t panic. He sought to resolve the situation with minimal force, then sought to defuse the situation as he waited for backup. It was only when he had extinguished all alternatives that the two-year SDPD veteran fired.

This is very hard work. Pitts and those hundreds of thousands of other professionals like him deserve our gratitude. You can watch the video below.

[Also read: Trump: Cop killers should ‘immediately’ get the death penalty]

Source: Washington Examiner – Beltway Confidential


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