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Don't point fingers, learn from teen boy's death

Re: Fatal police shooting of teen was an outrage, letters, Nov. 15.

I am outraged too. The shooting of Brian Hickman was truly tragic and totally unnecessary, but blaming the police is not the answer.

You want accountability? Let's start with personal responsibility. This young man chose to wield the knife and chose to attack a police officer. He knew what he was doing; he was "going out like a soldier."

If we are going to question the actions of the police, we should also question the factors which required their intervention in the first place. Why are our teenagers allowed to spend their weekday afternoons drinking anyway? Who is responsible for keeping our kids out of trouble?

In the end it really doesn't matter who's at fault. Blame won't bring Brian back. All we can do now is to prevent this from happening again. It is my sincere hope that everyone _ police, parents, kids and the community _ learns a lesson from this painful experience. Let's join together to make some changes so that there is no "next time."

Randy Kautz Safety Harbor

Officer was not at fault

Re: Fatal police shooting of teen was an outrage, letters, Nov. 15.

I find it amazing that someone with no experience in law enforcement or who has even been in the same situation as this Clearwater officer are so quick to condemn the officer.

The officer had only seconds to decide what level of force to use or he could just let this teenager stab him several times. Last I checked a knife is just as deadly as any firearm so the officer was perfectly justified in his actions. At no time would he have had time to unload his firearm to load the "magical"' plastic bullets, which at that range would still be deadly.

The teen had stated he was going to die that night; it was entirely up to him. Nobody forced him to charge the officer with the knife and ignore the calls to stop. It's absurd to find fault with the officer when a juvenile delinquent leaves him no choice but to use deadly force.

Craig Smith, Clearwater

Lawless behavior has consequences

I get so tired of hearing, "He was such a good boy" every time a young person breaks the laws of the land.

In an interview regarding the recent shooting death of 16-year-old Brian Hickman, a fellow student stated, "He was such a good boy . . . he got in trouble a lot, but he didn't deserve to die like that," and a teacher wrote a letter to the editor and explained how hard he worked to turn his life around.

Have we been given to reprobate minds? Can someone explain to me how good a boy Brian Hickman could have been if, while on probation for breaking other laws, he was in a drunken rage wielding an 8-inch knife at a police officer and refused to obey the officer's simple command to disarm?

If Brian Hickman was a good boy and a true turnaround teenager, it certainly was not evident on the night of his untimely and unnecessary death. He knew what direction his life was going in and stated he would be "going out like a soldier."

Let this behavior and its consequences serve as a lesson to other young people. As for the police officer, did he not have a right to defend himself so he could return home to his wife and children rather than become this good boy's victim?

Len Vivolo, Clearwater

Teen, officer both made choices

Re: Fatal police shooting of teen was an outrage, letters, Nov. 15.

I am outraged and appalled by the lack of common sense of some of your subscribers regarding the shooting of Brian Hickman.

First and foremost, I would like to say to the family of Brian I am terribly sorry for your loss. The part that sickens me the most is the general public's lack of understanding about police work.

No. 1, police do no shoot at arms or legs, they shoot for maximum effect. In this case the threat was a teenage boy who was intoxicated and wielding a knife. Letter writer Lynn Caruso, who wrote in disgust of the police officer's decision, wants police to possibly get a counselor to speak with the boy in this situation. A boy who is drunk and wielding a knife.

Oh yes, she conveniently left out the other charges Brian accrued during his youthful years of burglary, robbery, battery and resisting arrest with violence. The reality of this is that if police allowed a counselor to speak with him and Brian took the counselor's life, who's to blame? The police, of course.

Being a police officer is not an easy job. Has anyone stopped to comment on what must be going through Clearwater Officer Marcus Lane's head right now? Here's a guy who was called to help and in the end he has to make a decision to take a life. Does anyone think of how difficult that must be on this man?

No, we talk about federal investigations and how hard we can slam this man who was doing his job. Every day we wake up we have choices to make. Brian Hickman chose to drink to intoxication, Brian chose to wield a knife at a police officer, and Officer Lane chose to go home to his family after his shift.

Chris White, Palm Harbor

Put the blame where it belongs

Re: Fatal police shooting of teen was an outrage, letters, Nov. 15.

Here we go again. Responding to the liberal world, where no one is responsible for anything, I need to comment on the rash of people blaming the Clearwater police for the death of young Brian Hickman.

It's very easy to criticize from the grandstands. I wonder how well these critics of the police would fare with an out-of-control, adult-size male coming at them with a knife with intent to do harm? I was especially amused at the woman who wrote in and stated that the officer should have shot his attacker in the arm or leg. The officer did not cause the problem, Mr. Hickman did. Put the blame where it belongs.

By the way, where were all the parents of these "children" when this was going on? All these little darling children are perfect, aren't they? Right up until the moment they attempt murder on an armed police officer.

Has everyone forgotten about personal responsibility for one's actions? Did no one ever teach this young man that it is unwise to attack a police officer with a deadly weapon, especially when the officer's handgun is drawn and pointed at you and when he is ordering you to stop?

Quit blaming the police for the lack of parenting and parental supervision. I certainly feel bad for the parents of this young man. Where were they when all this was happening? Where did these kids get the alcohol anyway? Remember, it is also against the law to provide alcohol to minors.

Paul Hendess, Safety Harbor

Shooting a tragedy for all

Re: Fatal police shooting of teen was an outrage, letters, Nov. 15.

After reading the five letters in today's paper protesting the action of the officer who shot and killed the teenager with a knife, I felt compelled to write in defense of the officer. I believe the principle "innocent until proven guilty" applies to police officers as well as civilians. As a father and grandfather, I sympathize with the family and friends of the teenager just as I would for the family and friends of the officer if he had been stabbed to death.

I don't know if additional training would have resolved the situation differently or not; I tend to believe if the teen would have done as requested the outcome would have been different.

I also don't know if excessive force was used or not, but I do know that in the real world officers can't disarm people the way they do on TV.

My sympathies to all involved in this tragic situation.

Tom Teare, Clearwater

Officer's actions protected the public

Unless you have been in the shoes of a police officer, how do you know how you would react? What happened in Clearwater was a tragedy for all involved. This teenager came at the officer with a knife. How was the officer supposed to restrain him and call for a counselor?

The boy, according to his own friends, was intoxicated. His other friend surrendered to police, so what happened with Brian? Why was he so belligerent? The officer had no idea what would happen if this boy who had already been involved in one fight earlier had gotten outside brandishing a knife. Brian knew he was out on conditional release from boot camp yet he chose to get drunk, get into a fight and resist a police officer.

Thank goodness no one else in that complex was hurt or killed because the police did the job they were trained to do: protect the public from danger.

K.Durst, Largo