When Christopher Roupe answered the door last Friday, he probably didn’t think death would be waiting on the other side. But that’s exactly what the 17-year-old ROTC student found after the police officer outside mistook his Wii controller for a gun, a lawyer for his family says.
Roupe was killed Friday night after an officer arrived at his mobile home in Georgia to deliver a probation violation warrant for the teen’s father. As the officer tells it, Roupe was holding a gun when he answered the door. But Cole Law, who is representing Roupe’s family, disagrees.
“We don’t know where [the claim that he had a gun] came from,” Law told WSBTV in Atlanta. “The eyewitnesses on the scene clearly state that he had a Wii controller in his hand. He heard a knock at the door. He asked who it was, there was no response so he opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest.”
A neighbor corroborated the story, telling WSBTV, “When we got up there, they said there was a Wii remote in his hand and she shot him.” Another person nearby said that the officer was sobbing shortly after firing her gun. The officer has been put on paid administrative leave.
Police shootings are commonplace in the United States. Many end in death, thanks in part to a shoot-to-kill policy that requires officers who choose to fire to do so with lethal intentions, and more largely due to a shifting culture that militarizes officers. But questions remain about whether police should be using less lethal approaches — like firing bean bags and using tear gas — more often. There is very little data on how officers are trained to use weapons, and when or whether less lethal means are a serious part of the training.