For the First Time, Police in America Used a Robot to Kill a Suspect

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This is a strange side note to last night’s shootings—Dallas police, facing a standoff with accused shooter Micah Johnson, utilized a robot to plant a bomb that killed the suspect.

The confrontation took place at a parking garage on the El Centro community college campus in downtown Dallas, where police tracked Johnson after the original shootings. The standoff lasted until the early morning, with Johnson refusing to surrender and exchanging gunfire with the police. Per Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown:

“Negotiations broke down. We had an exchange of gunfire with the suspect. We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Brown said. “Other options would have exposed our officers to great danger. The suspect deceased as a result of detonating the bomb. The reporting that the suspect killed himself is not accurate. We confirmed that he’s been deceased because of the detonation of the bomb.”

This is the first time a robot has been used to intentionally kill a suspect on American soil. In 2013, one suspect died after being trapped in a burning cabin after a robot was used to throw smoke bombs in the building, but that was an attempt to smoke him out of the building, not to kill him. U.S. troops in Iraq have used robots in a similar capacity. In America, robots are more commonly used to disable explosives.

Before dying, Micah Johnson told police that he was upset about the deaths of black citizens at the hands of white cops, and that his goal was to kill white people, and white police officers especially. He said he was unaffiliated with any group, and that he acted alone.