Dallas police chief defends use of robot to kill shooter

The chief of the Dallas Police Department has vigorously defended the use of a bomb mounted on a robot to kill a gunman who shot and killed five police officers last week in the Texas city.

The shootings occurred during a march to protest police violence against African-Americans.

In taking personal responsibility for approving the plan in the aftermath of Thursday's attack, Chief David Brown said he was convinced that the gunman would have sought to harm other police officers if he had hesitated to give the go-ahead.

"I approved it and would do it again if presented with same circumstances," Brown told CNN on Sunday, referring to the strategy of deploying a bomb-equipped robot into a room where the suspect was holed up after his shooting rampage.

After two hours of fruitless negotiations with the gunman, Brown asked senior officers to "use their imaginations" to devise a strategy to disable the shooter, later identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a former US Army Reserve soldier who authorities said embraced black nationalism.

"He seemed very much in control and very determined to hurt other officers," said Brown, who revealed that Johnson taunted negotiators and asked them how many officers he had hit with gunfire. "Without our actions, he would have hurt more officers."

Brown said he stood by his decision but understood why questions have been raised about the use of deadly force against the gunman, rather than opting for a non-lethal method to disable him.

"I appreciate critics, but they are not on the ground. And their lives are not at risk," he said.

Since last week’s attacks, nearly half of America's 30 biggest cities have issued directives to pair up police officers on calls to boost safety.

Indianapolis said it would consider the use of robots to deliberately deliver lethal force, an unprecedented tactic prior to last Thursday’s events.

The military-grade robot used to deliver and detonate explosives where the shooter was holed up was revealed to be the Remotec Andros F5 model, a device usually used by the military.

The increasing versatility of robots is allowing them to be used for a larger number of tasks then ever before.

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) study last week showed that robots and automation could endanger the jobs of more than half of workers in five South-east Asian countries over the next two decades. 

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