In a video that went viral over the weekend, New Richmond officer Jesse Kidder’s body camera recorded an incident that involved 27-year-old Michael Wilcox, the suspect in a murder investigation. Officer Kidder had been informed that Wilcox might be armed. In the events that unfolded, Wilcox, who realized he was being followed, got out of his car and charged the officer, who is a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq, according to Sky News. As you can see in the video above, Kidder continues to step back while Wilcox charges at him, repeating the phrase “shoot me!” Officer Kidder can be heard replying, “Stop! Stop right there! I don’t want to shoot you man. I don’t want to shoot you.”
Wilcox ends up getting on the ground and admitting that he’s on drugs, allowing for the arrest. However, this raises two important issues for officers. First, there’s been some commentary over the past year about whether or not combat veterans might make trigger-happy cops, which would lead to more civilian deaths. This video would prove that to be a fairly ridiculous argument and reinforce the perspective that veterans make for exceptional law enforcement officers if not simply for the extra training, but the actual experience of having been in intense situations, and made split-second decisions that have life or death consequences.
The second issue is that of this officer’s own protection. Everything worked out and officer Kidder is being rightfully praised as a hero, but there’s another question being asked. Was the risk Kidder took worth it? Kidder had Wilcox in his sights, but both he and Wilcox were moving. If Wilcox was armed (he wanted the officer to think so judging by the video) and drew his gun, would Kidder have been able to eliminate the threat before Wilcox could fire a few rounds in his direction? It’s an important question for law enforcement, and one Kidder was well aware of yet he still took the chance. Kidder, the Marine combat veteran, risked his life to save a man he had no reason to save, and in doing so, enlightened an increasingly skeptical public about the dire circumstances officers face, and served as a point of pride for those that wear the badge everyday. This will definitely not be used as a how-to video for training purposes, but, in this instance, perhaps it was the best thing for officers everywhere to show the public the risks police take when they don’t shoot.