Legal Experts Raise Alarm over Shocking Use of “Killer Robot” in Dallas

bomb-robotBy Nadia Prupis

As news emerges that police officers in Dallas, Texas used an armed robot to kill the suspected shooter in Thursday night’s ambush, experts are warning that it represents a sea change in police militarization that only heightens risks to human and constitutional rights.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said Friday morning during a press conference that police “saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate” where the suspect had taken refuge in a parking garage as police tried to negotiate with him, adding that he was “deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”

The suspect, identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, was killed around 2:30am Friday morning after an hours-long standoff with police. The shootings killed five officers and left more than a dozen people injured. Johnson reportedly confirmed that he had acted alone and was not affiliated with any group.

Many noted that this appears to be the first time that domestic police have used a lethal robot to kill a suspect.

According to Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and editor and contributor to Drones and Targeted Killings: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, it’s a sign that U.S. law enforcement is continuing to go in “the wrong direction.”

“The fact that the police have a weapon like this, and other weapons like drones and tanks, is an example of the militarization of the police and law enforcement—and goes in the wrong direction,” Cohn told Common Dreams. “We should see the police using humane techniques, interacting on a more humane level with the community, and although certainly the police officers did not deserve to die, this is an indication of something much deeper in the society, and that’s the racism that permeates the police departments across the country. It’s a real tragedy.”

Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and assistant professor of law at the University of South Carolina, told The Atlantic on Friday, “This is sort of a new horizon for police technology. Robots have been around for a while, but using them to deliver lethal force raises some new issues.”

As security expert and University of Pennsylvania professor Matt Blaze noted on Twitter on Friday, numerous safety concerns about the robot’s protocols—for example, how easily it might be hacked—remain unaddressed.

“How was the control link to the Dallas bomb robot secured? Stakes go *way* up when something like this is repurposed as a weapon,” he wrote.

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As Popular Science tech editor David Gershgorn also explained:

Repurposing a robot that was created to prevent death by explosion clearly contrasts with the way these machines are normally used. Bomb disposal robots are routinely used to minimize the potential of harm to officers and civilians when disarming or clearing potential explosives from an area. They are often equipped with their own explosive charges and other tools, not to kill, but detonate other potential bombs in the area.

Questions also arose regarding the necessity of the suspect’s killing after he reportedly told police during negotiations that there were “bombs all over” downtown Dallas.

As Cohn noted, officers could have determined where those devices were located, “if in fact there are bombs,” had they left the suspect alive. Moreover, she said, killing him violated his constitutional right to due process.

“Police cannot use deadly force unless there’s an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to them or other people. If the suspect was holed up in a parking garage and there was nobody in immediate danger from him, the police could have waited him out. They should have arrested him and brought him to trial,” Cohn said. “Due process is not just enshrined in our constitution, it’s also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. has ratified, making it part of U.S. law.”

Likewise, Stoughton told The Atlantic, “Policing has a different mission [than the military]: protecting the populace. That core mission, as difficult as it is to explains sometimes, includes protecting some people who do some bad things. It includes not using lethal force when it’s possible to not.”

Many noted the connection between potentially the first use of an armed robot in domestic policing and the deployment of such tools in active war zones. Defense technology expert Peter W. Singer wrote on Twitter, “this is 1st use of robot in this way in policing. Marcbot has been ad hoc used this way by troops in Iraq.”

Cohn said, “The same way that the Obama administration uses unmanned drones in other countries to kill people instead of arresting them and bringing them to trial, we see a similar situation here….As the technology develops, we’re going to see the increasing use of military weapons in the hands of the police, which is going to inflame and exacerbate a very volatile situation.”

“We can see that many of the weapons that are being used by the military are in the hands of the police,” she added. “This is a very volatile situation, very dangerous situation, and is only going to make the tensions worse and kill people and violate constitutional rights.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Nadia Prupis writes for CommonDreams.org, where this article first appeared.

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Also Read: China to Unleash Killer Robot Army to Fight Terrorism


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29 Comments on "Legal Experts Raise Alarm over Shocking Use of “Killer Robot” in Dallas"

  1. The whole thing was a fake!!!!

  2. Last evening when this was all going down there were reports of “multiple shooters”. And then suddenly today it’s back to the lone gunman theory…again. And then the idiot-in-chief starts jaw-jacking about too many guns in America and his usual anti-gun diatribe proving once again that Obama (and his administration) is the best gun salesman in the history of the republic. God bless America…

    • Craig Schmalz | July 9, 2016 at 6:14 am | Reply

      Also the number of people killed and or injured has literally changed hundreds of times. Sometimes in the same article it is different numbers. How do they not know how many are dead? How can it go from 5 dead to 4 dead? Did one of them get better? And we are supposed to believe that a guy that says there are bombs all over town would be killed instead of captured and interrogated to find out where the supposed bombs are?

    • clarioncaller | July 9, 2016 at 10:21 am | Reply

      I wonder if this guy, Micah Johnson, was at the same training facility in Virginia as Omar Mateen and the LA LGBT parade terrorist, Howell?

  3. Charles_Higley | July 8, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Reply

    When the suspect claimed to have planted bombs all over the place, moving on his/her position is inherently hazardous for the police. So, it makes total sense to send a bomb in to take out the suspect. The bomb would detonate any IED in the area, is immune to bullets, and makes the area safe for the authorities. What’s the problem with that?

    • Francis Marion | July 9, 2016 at 7:16 am | Reply

      The fact that the suspect told police that there were bombs planted all over downtown should be common sense to take him alive if possible, plus why couldn’t they use non leathal means to subdue him?

      • YourTV Unplugged | July 11, 2016 at 10:13 am | Reply

        Yeah exactly, and if they’re saying they didn’t believe him and they somehow ‘knew’ he was just making that up, then why did the trust him when he ‘confirmed that he had acted alone and was not affiliated with any group’?!! HUH? Makes no sense, he could have been bullshitting to protect his buddies who were also a part of the crime… So distrust him about the multiple bombs, but believe him when he said he’s acting alone? Got it, that’s the narrative they’re trying to pull! Yeah lets just make him a lone gun man again… as always. Because two or more people never commit a crime, it’s always just one person. Give me a break!

    • Watch the NFL, drink cheap beer and gorge on Cheetos. It’s hard to believe anyone could be as out of touch as you are.

  4. You ain’t seen nothin yet. Just wait till the RNC and DNC conventions. They have water cannons, eardrum splitting sound devices ,cages and thousands of police & military ready for this. Wondering also about all the UN vehicles seen on the highway. If they bring in foreigners it will be easier to get them to fire on Americans. Potential for declaring marshal law here.Stay alert.

  5. Psychic Warrior | July 9, 2016 at 5:56 am | Reply

    Proof that guns kill people, The people kill people logic of gun rights defenders is negated when talking robots and drones; even more so when AI is applied to techniques where stray projectiles can add to more safety issues, where “smart” technology turns stupid and when machines will be allowed to literally call the shots we will have relinquished our rights for all time. This is another example of the alien/military/industrial/complex operating unchecked in your neighborhood.

  6. The original news reports said there were multiple snipers in high places targeting the police officers, somehow the multiple shooters got down to just one?!! 3 arrested 1 shot and killed. And just as the Orlando shooter was trained in the use of weapons, so is the Dallas shooter. I’m smelling a false flag psyops mind control op’s here. Maybe to gain sympathy for the police who seemed to be having a lot of bad press lately with their trigger happy moments. More ammo (pun intended) for the USG to pass legislation on more tighter gun control?

    • rhondareichel | July 9, 2016 at 11:47 am | Reply

      yep…Kerry promised the U.N. by signing the small arms treaty
      VOTE CAREFULLY

    • rhondareichel | July 9, 2016 at 11:49 am | Reply

      AR15 again….this is getting old

    • Have you noticed Stewart Rhodes, the sellout founder of Oathkeepers, is now calling on his membership to send flowers to their local law enforcement in a show of support. Rhodes and his companion, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, must have sold out everything, including the family jewels, in their attempt to avoid being jailed along with the Bundys or being killed like LaVoy Finicum.

  7. berrybestfarm | July 9, 2016 at 8:20 am | Reply

    Well that settles it then and hallelujah. We can now get rid of all those useless judges, juries and prosecutors. We get them all wrapped up in one in the police forces now. Killing the innocent until proven guilty is gonna save us Billions. Replace the officers with robots and we’re looking at potential savings in the Trillions folks. We need to get behind this. See, force really does solve every problem.

  8. It fits the false flag scenario to a T.
    More than one shooter, then only one shooter who was (of course) killed.

  9. I think the answer is simple. Just give the “legal expert” a helmet, vest and gun and send them in to talk to the perp. before sending in a robot. There are too many lawyers anyway!

  10. How can one person triangulate?

  11. they give the impression that the shooter was “vaporized”….a blast like that would have severely damaged the building…was the robot “vaporized” also?

  12. The guy was “Carpenter” in the US Army and not trained in Infantry or Urban Warfare, he didn’t do any fighting in Afghanistan he built stuff that’s it! The Video I saw was a Very Well Trained individual on Ground Level Shooting Cops at basically Point Blank Range for an AR-15! Yet for some reason their calling this a “Sniper” Attack when he was doing business at Ground Level. So that means there was a 2nd Shooter who was ‘the Sniper’ and the guy they pinned this all on, who was at ground level, was making sure of Kills by DOUBLE TAPPING the Cops after they went down! Then of course, the guy is Blown Up by a Robot leaving NO TRACE of him is just very convenient if you ask me, right? And again, as always, they want to Ban Gun Ownership and promote a false Racial narrative creating distrust between Law Officers and the people their suppose to serve! Hence the reason for Multiple Marches in Large Cities across the country! If Rioting gets out of control like Ferguson or Baltimore but in say 25 to 30 Cities across America, that my friends will give Obama the Excuse he needs to Declare Martial Law and suspending the Elections!

  13. wisdom of the knowing | July 9, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Reply

    Suspect suddenly becomes Guilty by way of death…. MMMm… kinda strange.

    Then suspect is the guilty one but being dead can not defend himself. Oh How convenient.
    Dead suspect suddenly not too important because they can blame him and the real shooters and perpetrators

  14. How many police departments carry bombs with them? Lol
    How many suspects hang around while a bomb is put down in front them? Lol
    The bomb is the smoking gun.

  15. This isn’t about legal experts or what is legal. Everything the Gestapo wants has been legalized by Congress, the courts or through Executive Order. Mankind is in fight for its very survival against the forces of evil.

  16. Doug Stevens | July 11, 2016 at 2:10 am | Reply

    If they could send a bomb to kill him they could just as easily have flushed him out with a pepper spray canister.

    This seems more like obliteration of evidence in another terrorist FBI false flag attack.

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