Dallas deployment of robot bomb to kill suspect is “without precedent”

Early Friday morning, after being attacked by gunmen who had already killed five police officers and injured several other officers along with two civilians in the wake of a protest, the Dallas Police Department deployed a bomb disposal robot.

However, the robot was not used to disarm a bomb. This time, it was used to deliver the bomb that killed one of the shooters—likely an unprecedented move in American policing.

For now, it remains unknown exactly what type of robot or what kind of explosive was used. Authorities have named the dead shooter as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army veteran from a nearby suburb.

Experts believe this is the first time a robot-delivered bomb was used to take out an active shooter by law enforcement in the United States. The death of Johnson raises new questions about the appropriate limits of drone technology outside of the theater of an overseas war.

The Pentagon has transferred bomb disposal robots to more than 200 law enforcement agencies under the 1033 Program, which transfers military surplus equipment to domestic police agencies, according to the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. The DPD itself acquired new bomb robots in May 2016, according to its website.


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