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Officer Shootings Ruled Justified

April 16, 2002

I was relieved after reading both "Cop Will Not Face Charges in Death" (April 11) and your story last fall, "Slaying by Officer Is Ruled Justified" (Oct. 23), for many reasons. One of the first things you learn when you are connected with firearms is that there is no such thing as an "unloaded" or "fake" gun. There is no way that a cop can tell the difference in that split second of decision.

More than anything else, every cop dreads that situation, and the short nanosecond he has to save--or lose--his own life with his own reaction; or how he would react if the situation ever came up, as it did with LAPD Officer Tarriel Hopper. So Hopper, a good cop, reacted the only way a cop can--he saved his own life.

The LAPD's review board and the district attorney's office both made the right decision. Hopper acted in the proper manner. And what happened at that fateful Halloween party was tragic.

I knew Hopper as an all-American at Carson High and as a player at USC. He played for me in the local Shrine game; he made an inspiring speech for me at a Pop Warner banquet to a roomful of 13-year-olds. Hopper is a good person and a good cop.

Merlin R. Rosenlof

Carson

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If I were to go out and shoot my neighbor in the leg, I would be arrested for attempted murder. Here you have a cop who says his life was in danger from a man who was at a costume party and whose back was turned away from the officer when he was shot four times. That's justifiable homicide?

This whole nation is slowly becoming a police state. Even Margaret Mitchell, a homeless old woman brandishing a screwdriver, is shot and killed. Another justifiable homicide.

When I was on the force in New York, the first thing you learned was self-defense using a baton. I knew officers in New York who had been on the force for 20 years and never drew their weapon--but you'd better not run from them. Their use of the baton was amazing.

Eddie Baken

Los Angeles

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