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Metro Shoots 23-Year-Old Man
Metro Shoots 23-Year-Old Man

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AIR DATE: July 20, 2011

Last Thursday, two Metro officers responded to a police disturbance found a 23-year-old with a knife.  When he didn't drop the knife, they shot and killed him.  Rafael Olivas had argued with his mother before he died.  There's some speculation it may have been "suicide by cop," but Olivas's family says he was not depressed or violent.  So what happened that morning?  Olivas's family shares their story, and tells why they're petitioning to reform the Metro police department.
 
GUESTS
Alma Chavez, mother of Rafael Olivas
Vivian Lord, professor of criminal justice and criminology, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Lauren Vianzon, friend of Rafael Olivas
Miriam Tabacon, sister fo Rafael Olivas

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COMMENTS:
This is not the movies. Even at relatively close range it is difficult to shoot a limb and when you do shoot you have to take into account everything behind the person being shot. Most handguns can penetrate through a person and into walls and anything or anybody behind those walls. Officers tried non lethal means (beanbags) but tazers would require the officer being too close for safety. The mother admitted that she did not see the shooting and said the time was "seconds" from the arrival of the police and the shooting but time gets skewed when emotions are heightened (ever wait for an ambulance to arrive-it seems to take forever). My heart goes out to the mother, friends and family but leaving the house with a knife was the beginning of all the problems and the police did not have anytning to do with that. The police are not counselors they are law enforcement. Indeed police are to serve and protect and they protected others and themselves when they took this young mans life. Maybe the new coroners inquest methods will shed some light on the circumstances so lets let that process take place before jumping to conclusions about the actions of the police involved.
John MoxonJul 24, 2011 00:41:57 AM
There is a reason why there are multiple ways of disarming someone. If that person came running at you, had a gun of their own, or took more than 10 minutes to convince them to drop the weapon, only then I believe a police offer who is trained to handle situations like this has no other choice then to open fire. But to open fire doesnt mean kill the person. It just not take more than 1 or 2 bullets to a limb to drop someone. Multiple rounds from multiple officers are completely and 100% unneccessary. Justice for ralfy and all of the victims in similar cases that have gone unnoticed.
Tracey SmithJul 22, 2011 09:45:57 AM
The most illuminating comment in the whole program was the response by a policeman to the question "Why didn't you shoot his hand or leg instead of killing him?" The reply, "We are only trained to kill" - I know this is just hearsay from the grieving mother, but all the evidence appears to back it up. There must be a better way of training the police.
Nat LernerJul 20, 2011 22:47:31 PM
Without an exception,in every single case I've read or heard of a cop shooting and killing a citizen,the post-shooting response of the immediate family portends to be of shock,surprise,grief and the same crap:"he was such a fine person;loved by all; so much talent." And then comes the inevitable lawsuit filed against the police. Well,from my perspective,most of those shot acted erractically, reprehensibly,criminally,or all of the above,and in today's dysfunctional world when a cop says "drop!" you had better drop,or you will drop dead, and I can't blame the cop. I blame the lousy behavior of the person shot.
Steve HornerJul 20, 2011 12:13:04 PM
Today's show set an all-time low. The young man is dead and that certainly is a tragedy. The single mother of four is griefstricken and that is understandable. But he ran outside with a knife, refused police commands and WAS NOT FAZED BY MULTIPLE BEAN-BAG SHOTS. Will an autopsy reveal illegal drugs in his system?
Mr. Silvio OmertaJul 20, 2011 12:50:59 PM
IF THIS HAPPENED TO SOMEONE YOU LOVE, THEN YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND. POLICE ARE SERVE TO PROTECT... AND NOT TO KILL. YOU SHOULD KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE SAYING ANYTHING. THIS SITUATION COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLE DIFFERENTLY. I BLAME HEARTLESS MURDERING COPS.
NoelleJul 20, 2011 13:34:52 PM
I agree with Noelle. Y'all really didn't know Ralfy so don't sit there being so quick to judge. You don't know the whole situation, so it's best to keep your negative comments to yourself.
JemJul 21, 2011 00:15:35 AM
Tell me how 5 police officers with guns are fearful of a man with a butcher. You are telling me the only way for the police to handle this situation is to kill him. She called for him to be put on mental evaluation. If a police officer is not skilled enough to help detain people without deadly force, then maybe they should not be on the force.
Katie ShippJul 20, 2011 09:30:02 AM
I find it hard to believe that someone who is not violent or depressed had to have the mother call the cops to come out. It is probably more accurate that this person had a history of violence in the home and the cops are again in trouble because of being placed in this situation. If the mother thought he was not a danger to anyone she should have let him get over his anger on his own. Now it is someone else's fault. I am sorry for the loss, but this sounds way too one sided.
jamesJul 20, 2011 09:21:58 AM
911 and Metro provide a service for 72 hour locked and mental evaluation for those suffering a mental lapse. That's why she called the police in the freaking first place. Now maybe all the details on Rafael are one sided but shooting and killing a man with a KNIFE when there is more than one officer present seems ridiculous. And honestly, where is your compassion for someone who thought she was calling for help only to see her son killed right before you. What if that was someone you loved?
Katie ShippJul 20, 2011 09:38:30 AM
KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE SPEAKING. ONLY GOD KNOWS THE TRUTH. HE IS A GOOD MAN. EVERYONE HAS THEIR GOOD AND BAD DAYS. THIS WAS JUST A BAD SITUATION. SHE ASKED FOR HELPED NOT FOR THEM TO KILL HIM. OBVIOUSLY, THOSE KILLERS COPS HAVE MENTAL ISSUES WITH ANGER AND THEY TOOK IT OUT ON AN INNOCENT PERSON. THE TRUTH WILL BE OUT SOON AND THEN YOU WILL SEE THAT THEY WERE WRONG. JUST WAIT FOR IT.
NoelleJul 20, 2011 13:39:58 PM
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