In a video that has emerged of an incident that took place in Ohio last week, a rookie cop shows that the use of lethal force can be the last resort for police in a threatening situation.
Jesse Kidder, an officer in New Richmond, Ohio, has been hailed for his restraint after bodycam footage emerged showing the 27-year-old holding his fire, even as a double homicide suspect lunged toward him and threatens to shoot the officer.
With just one year of policing experience under his belt, Kidder, a Marine and Iraq war veteran, could technically be classified as a rookie — the same tag used by police departments and media to describe several inexperienced officers involved in the shooting deaths of unarmed black men, including a 26-year-old Cleveland officer who last year fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice as the boy carried a toy gun at a playground.
But on Thursday, Kidder refused to use deadly force to take down suspect Michael Wilcox, who he had pursued across state lines to Kentucky, where he was suspected of killing his best friend. Wilcox has also been charged with the murder of his 25-year-old girlfriend.
In the video, taken on an officer mounted camera that Kidder says a relative had given him in the wake of the August police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Kidder is seen backing away from Wilcox with his service weapon drawn. Wilcox continues to advance toward him, saying, "shoot me!" repeatedly, and then at one point "shoot me, or I'll shoot you!" Kidder said he was watching Wilcox's hands to see if he was reaching for a gun.
Kidder continues to back away, saying "I don't want to shoot you," and "I'm not gonna do it." At one point, the officer trips and falls backward after Wilcox lunges at him.
"He got towards my face right as I lost balance," Kidder told Cincinnati's WLWT-TV. "I'm thinking, at this point, that if he goes into attack me, that I'll have to use deadly force to defend myself."
But the officer never had to fire his weapon, as backup arrived shortly after Kidder fell. Wilcox then surrendered to the officers.
"Law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split-second decisions that mean life or death," Kidder said. "I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force."
The department has praised the officer's self-control in the face of a life-threatening situation. Earlier, dispatchers had reportedly told Kidder that the suspect may "threaten suicide by cop."
"For him to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity," New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey said. "This video footage, it eliminated all doubt that this officer would have been justified if in fact it came to a shooting."
Wilcox was taken to Brown County Jail and was being held on $2 million bond, according to the Associated Press.