The St. Ann Police Department recently purchased a state-of-the-art simulator to better prepare officers to make decisions on whether to use deadly force on the streets. The department wanted the public to experience the simulator, so they invited well-known activist Pastor Derrick Robinson to test it out.
After the death of Michael Brown and the subsequent grand jury decision, Robinson was often seen leading protests.
In a training room at the St. Ann Police Department, however, Robinson traded chants for police commands as he was given a taste of what it is like for police officers on the street.
St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jiminez trained Robinson how to use his vest, training gun and taser. During his first scenario, Robinson was forced to shoot at a man who rushed at him with a knife.
"I tried to approach the situation very calm and he immediately got defensive and pulled his knife out," Robinson said. "I had to respond, either respond or be killed."
In that scenario, Robinson shooting the suspect was determined to be justified, but other scenarios were not so clear. Other scenarios led Robinson to shoot unarmed suspects, even firing the training weapon, instead of the taser, on a man running at him with what Robinson believed to be a knife--which turned out to be the suspect's fist and not a weapon.
Ultimately, Robinson only used his taser in one out of nine scenarios, but shot unarmed suspects in at least three cases.
"It was an amazing experience, I would even say a life-changing experience," said Robinson.
Following the simulator training, Robinson said his main take-away from the exercise was conversation and compliance, which he believes can improve the often tense interactions between the community and police officers.
Robinson said when he protests, it is not against all police officers and just against the "bad ones" he thinks need to resign.
Chief Aaron Jiminez extended an invitation for anyone and everyone to try out the simulator.