The Decision to Enter

Most people understand the Walters’ shooting was justified. But, one person recently asked me why we had to go in the house in the first place.  Couldn’t we have just gassed him out like we did Elawadly?
Certainly, if we had known Walters was going to grab a gun and shoot us, we would have used other tactics, but based on the information we had at the time, the officer’s tactics were sound.
Unlike Walters, Elawadly was a known murderer on the run.  He knew we were after him for killing a man and we knew he knew it.  We had him cornered knowing he had little to lose.  We deployed the SWAT Team and he was safely taken into custody after we shot tear gas through several windows of the house.
On the other hand, Walters took off during a traffic stop saying “see ya” after the Idaho State Police officer told him he had a warrant for a minor offense. 
Walters fled to his home, parked his white pick-up truck on the lawn and quickly bailed out of the cab running into the house and shut the door with police hot on his trail.  Officers, seeing Walters through the door, talked to him trying to coax him out as he held it shut.  Eventually, we forced our way in.
The officers had no idea he would react the way he did.  They didn’t even have their weapons drawn until after Walters shot Officer Reynolds.
As a side note, the investigation shows that ISP had a caution transmitted with the warrant classified as “Violent Tendencies” and one of their officers voiced this.  Our officers didn’t hear the statement. However, even if they had, it would not have changed their approach.
Cautions attached to warrants are routine and include two word statements such as “Armed/Dangerous”, “Escape Risk”, “Sexually Violent Predator”, and “Suicidal” to name a few.  In this case, the caution read “Violent Tendencies” relating to a 1988 case when Walters was charged for minor assault after threatening to hit someone with a garden tool - later reduced to Disturbing the Peace.
I did a quick poll with some of our officers and even though they log these cautions in the back of their minds, they don’t assume they are safe because the warnings are absent. But neither do they assume a person is a risk to a law enforcement officer because they were charged with a threat 23 years ago.
We have a well-trained SWAT Team and are very willing to deploy it when the situation calls for it.  The shift commander who gave the green light on the entry, Lieutenant Royce Clements, also happens to be the SWAT Commander and is well trained to make that call.
In this case, like so many cases officers routinely deal with throughout the year, we have someone trying to get away from the police.  They aren’t being aggressive or violent.  They are just trying to get away.  The situation with Walters started out as a routine case of eluding, but he unexpectedly turned on police and shot Officer Malin Reynolds in the chest.
Based on the facts known at the time, the decision to enter the house was appropriate.