Dallas police improvised to kill shooter with robot, chief says

DALLAS Dallas police improvised when they decided to use a robot typically deployed to inspect potential bombs to instead deliver one to kill a gunman who had slain five officers at a march against police violence, the city's police chief said on Monday.Police used a Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) Mark5A-1 robot equipped with explosives to kill black former U.S. Army Reserve soldier Micah Johnson, 25, after concluding during an hours-long standoff there was no safe way of taking him into custody, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said."They improvised this whole idea in about 15, 20 minutes," Brown told a news conference."I asked the question of how much (explosives) we were using, and I said ... 'Don't bring the building down.' But that was the extent of my guidance."The incident is believed to have been the first time U.S. police have killed a suspect this way, and some civil liberties advocates said it created a troubling precedent. But Brown said that when faced with a man who had already killed five officers, wounded nine other officers and told negotiators he wanted to kill even more, "This wasn't an ethical dilemma for me."Explosives found at Johnson's home suggested he had been plotting a larger assault, according to authorities who were still trying to understand a message he wrote in his own blood - the initials "R.B." - on a wall before being killed by the bomb-equipped robot.The attack on Thursday night came at the end of a demonstration decrying police shootings last week of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and near St. Paul, Minnesota. Those were the latest in a series of high-profile killings of black men by police in cities including New York, Ferguson, Missouri, Chicago and Baltimore that have triggered protests. Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore on Monday recused himself from the investigation into last Tuesday's fatal shooting outside a convenience store of Alton Sterling, 37, by police officers responding to a call about a man with a gun. Moore said he has known the parents of one of the officers for many years and has worked with the officers on programs and projects. Hundreds of people were arrested over the weekend as new protests against the use of deadly force by police flared in U.S. cities. Scores of people were arrested in Baton Rouge on Sunday after authorities said violence during street demonstrations would not be tolerated.GUNMAN 'DISAPPOINTED' WITH MILITARYJohnson had served with the U.S. Army Reserve from 2009 to 2015 and was deployed to Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014. He had been disappointed in his experience in the military, his mother told TheBlaze.com in an interview shown online on Monday. "The military was not what Micah thought it would be," Delphine Johnson told The Blaze. "He was very disappointed. Very disappointed." She did not give details.The Dallas police chief, who is black, urged people upset about the conduct of police to consider joining his police force. "Become a part of that solution. Serve your communities," he said. "Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we'll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you're protesting about," he added. Brown said police will be reviewing more than 170 hours of video from police body cameras relating to Thursday's shootings as well as surveillance videos from surrounding businesses. Texas is known for its gun culture, and its laws allow gun owners to carry firearms in public. Some gun rights activists bring firearms to rallies as a political statement to express what they see as broad gun rights under state law and the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to bear arms. Some did this at Thursday's march in Dallas.Seeing multiple people carrying rifles at the demonstration led police initially to believe they were under attack by multiple shooters."It is increasingly challenging when people have AR-15's (a type of rifle) slung over, and shootings occur in a crowd. And they begin running, and we don’t know if they are a shooter or not," Brown said. "We don’t know who the 'good guy' versus who the 'bad guy' is if everybody starts shooting."Rick Briscoe, legislative director of gun rights group Open Carry Texas, said Brown was "simply mistaken" in viewing armed civilians as a problem."It is really simple to tell a good guy from a bad guy," Briscoe said. "If the police officer comes on the situation and he says 'Police, put the gun down,' the good guy does. The bad guy probably continues doing what he was doing, or turns on the police officer."In St. Paul, 50 people remained in jail on Monday after they were arrested on Saturday night when they blocked a highway during protests. City Attorney Samuel Clark said his office would decide by late on Monday whether to bring charges against any of them. (Additonal reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas and Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Writing by Daniel Wallis and Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry and Will Dunham)