Dallas Police Set Precedent Using Armed Robot To Kill Shooter

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For the first time in U.S. history a robot was used in policing to kill a suspect.

A bomb disposal robot armed with explosives was used by police to kill shooter Micah Xavier Johnson, the suspect in last nights police shootings that left five officers dead in Dallas, Texas.


robot Popular Mechanics reports:

Dallas Police Chief David Brown explained the situation in a press conference after the fact, saying:

We cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours. Negotiations broke down. We had an exchange of fire with the subject. We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.

It’s unclear what the “device” was, but it is possible that it could have been a small charge intended for use in controlled detonations of larger bombs.

A MARCbot robot, similar to the one used by Dallas police being demonstrated at the Pentagon.

This appears to be the known first instance of United States police using a robot to attack and kill a suspect, though experts say similar tactics have been used in military situations. In both cases, the robot in question was designed for bomb defusal, but was repurposed for detonation.

Bomb defusal robots have previously been used for unorthodox but non-lethal purposes. As Vice reported in May of 2015:

In one case, the robot was used to reach in a suicidal man's bedroom window and pull a blanket off of him because the SWAT team was wondering whether he had a gun or not. (Turns out he didn't.)...The robots, originally designed for use as bomb-disposal tools, are also becoming increasingly weaponized. Northrop Grumman's Remotec ANDROS F6 robot, for example, can be outfitted with an X-ray to look for explosive material, or a "disruptor" to safely detonate bombs. But it can also be fitted with a pepper-spray dispenser, a tear-gas launcher, and even a shotgun.

But while the practice of repurposing bomb defusal robots may not be new, this certainly seems to be the most extreme domestic example so far and raises all kinds of questions about their use going forward.robot