Killed without Hesitation

Innocent man mistaken for thief shot down by police officer. In the short story “Identities” by W.D. Valgardson an unshaven man, nervous while in an unfamiliar part of town notices a girl along with Three men. The girl is better looking than she should be compared to her companions captures his eye. Distracted by realizing he has not texted his wife his whereabouts he doesn’t notice the police car following him from the shadows. He hides his wallet in his pocket and slips a ten-dollar bill into his pocket in fear he may get questioned and robbed. When approached by the police officer with a pistol in hand the unshaven man feels a sense of relief. Ordered to halt due to the unshaven man matching a description of a thief in the neighbourhood, certain he is safe he reaches into his pocket to get his identity when the officer shoots the man. In 2006 when this short story was published Montreal was the violent and crime capital in Canada. Was this death justified? The police officer approached without ordering the man matching the description of a potentially dangerous man to put his hands in the air instead the police officer “orders him to halt” (Valgardson 5) before he reached into his pocket to grab his ID. Not only did he not order with clear instruction the officer, “who is inexperienced… nervous because of the neighbourhood” (Valgardson 5) he is clearly unexperienced for the location he is assigned to. The officer and his vehicle “concealed in the shadows… nose out and follow him” (Valgardson 5) should have had enough time to properly identify whether the unshaven man was an innocent man or a thief. Although the man seemed to have fit the description of the thief in the neighbourhood, his death caused by the officer was not justified for acting against the man. He was inexperienced and nervous which limits clinical thinking in times of need.