BOSTON (CBS) – On Friday, a state trooper shot and killed 45-year-old Santos Laboy after he allegedly refused to drop a knife. Laboy’s family admits he had a long history of trouble, but they want to know if killing him was the only solution.
Laboy was shot on a footbridge over Storrow Drive after a chase. He was armed with a knife. He had a long criminal record dating back to 1991 including a 2009 incident involving a samurai sword and Boston Police.
But his sister, Olga Santiago, says he also had a long and well known history of mental issues.
Related: Sister Questions Police Shooting
“The knife was in his hand, yes. I can understand if they go to him to shoot him, but shoot him somewhere else,” Santiago said. “Why kill him?”
It’s a question that’s been raised repeatedly as police use of force is hotly debated. Can police use other tactics – like Tasers – or could they shoot to wound instead?
“The average person thinks that things they see on television are easy to do,” WBZ-TV Security Analyst Ed Davis says. “Shooting somebody in the leg or the arm, that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Davis, the former commissioner of the Boston Police, says there is never a situation where an officer is trained to use their firearm to simply disable a suspect. He says in a tense situation – an officer’s accuracy can be decreased – so they’re trained to shoot for center mass – an often deadly shot.
Current Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans says firing the weapon is a last resort – and shooting for anything other than the center is more dangerous.
“We don’t do that because we worry about stray bullets hitting innocent bystanders,” Evans said.
Across the country, there were nearly 400 deadly police shootings last year. Police officers were charged with a crime just three times.
Massachusetts State Police say this shooting is under investigation so they can’t comment on the trooper’s use of deadly force against Santos Laboy.