Recently San Francisco Police responded to a report of a man in a wheelchair, threatening people with a knife and vandalizing cars on the street. When officers arrived, the man threatened them with a knife; none of the officers had a Taser. The officers did deploy a bean bag shotgun but an officer was stabbed and officers ended up having to shoot the suspect in the wheelchair.
Some things simply look bad in the news not matter how justified they are at the time. Police shoot man in a wheelchair just never looks like a good headline. The officers had a plan to use less-lethal weapons and they tried to work their plan. That’s good. I am not sure they did the same plan I would have done. A subject in a wheelchair is not very mobile and so one strategy to employ is to further immobilize him by dumping him from the wheelchair. That does require that you get close.
My thought would be to pepper spray the subject so that he is not only limited in mobility, but also blinded. Then distract him from the front while other officers move in from the rear and dump him out of the wheelchair, either to the front or tip it over on its side. Even if he retained the knife at that point on the ground and blinded he would be far less of a threat. The officers with a riot shield could move in and pin him to the ground. When faced with unconventional situation, sometimes you need an unconventional response; that’s what the SGT Says.