Favoring the Criminal at the Expense of the Innocent

As reported, Paul Stolarz was a 45 year old homeless man who lived in Chicago.  He had a history of arrests for minor crimes, and had previously spent a couple days in jail.  On Thursday afternoon, he brandished a knife in the Chicago loop.  Cops were called, and they ordered him to stop and drop the knife.  Stolarz refused, and the cops pepper sprayed him.  Not stopped by the pepper spay, Stolarz ran and then grabbed an 80 year old man as a hostage.  Police again commanded Stolarz to drop the knife, but he continued to refuse.  A cop then opened fire, fatally wounding Stolarz and also striking another cop.  The bullet that struck the cop was stopped by his body armor, preventing serious injury.  Incredibly, bystander Brenda McCloug, who is the store manager of Mrs. Fields, stated to the following to the media: “My personal feeling is [Stolarz]  didn’t have to die,” said McCloug, who disagreed with the police firing on the armed attacker.  She went on to say that “Somebody could have tackled him, and he would have fallen down.” 

There are two major flaws with Brenda McCloug’s statements:

1. Stolarz has already brandished a knife, taken an 80 year old person hostage, ignored multiple commands to drop the knife, and continued to do so after being pepper sprayed.  He is also doing this at State and Randolph in the Chicago loop, during the middle of the day.  For those not familiar with Chicago, that is one of the busiest places in the city. Stolarz posed an imminent and deadly threat to not only the people he had already attacked, but also the thousands of people in the vicinity.  Shooting Stolarz was the best and fastest way to put an end to that threat, before he could harm any of those innocent people.  It is neither morally nor legally right to allow such a deadly threat to so many innocent people to persist, in order to try and preserve the life of a violent criminal who has been given multiple chances to surrender.

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2. Trying to tackle a man armed with a knife would be incredibly dangerous for the police officers.  Edged weapons are every bit as deadly as firearms, and those who try to tackle knife wielding criminals often learn this lesson the hard way.  Graphic proof of this danger can be seen here.  It is simply not reasonable to expect cops to risk their lives by trying to tackle an armed criminal who has already repeatedly resisted their efforts to subdue him using less lethal means.

I truly cannot fathom how Brenda McCloug, or any person, could favor the violent criminal over their victims and the police who are trying to intervene – especially when the police have already tried to subdue the criminal without resorting to deadly force.  While I would rather that no one die in this sort of situation, it far better that the risk of death be borne by the violent criminal than their innocent victims.  I also get the distinct feeling that Ms. McCloug might have taken a different stance had that armed criminal been attacking her or one of her loved ones.