Our Robocop future isn't quite here yet, but it seems like there are more and more instances of robots getting the job done for police in tense situations.
The latest comes courtesy of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's use of a robot to disarm a man in a remote part of the Antelope Valley this month. The department announced this week that the robot approached from behind and took the suspect's rifle as he was lying down on his belly to face a battery of SWAT team members assembling to take him down.
The gun was at the man's feet, sheriff's officials said. "He looked up and realized his gun was gone and he was exposed," according to a sheriff's statement. "The suspect surrendered to the team without incident."
The suspect, 52-year-old Ray B. Bunge of Lancaster, has been charged with suspicion of attempted murder, making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and felony vandalism, authorities said.
The robotic standoff started late on Sept. 8, but sheriff's officials publicized the robot's role this week. It all started after deputies looking for Bunge ended up in a foot chase with him, the department stated. He led cops into a "dark open field" and he holed up in a "small dugout dirt berm with shrubs and fencing wire around him," according to the sheriff's statement.
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As a helicopter-based crew used a public address system to try unsuccessfully to get the suspect to surrender, a SWAT team faced the man, cops said. The standoff lasted six hours, but the sneaky robot saved the day.
"The robot quietly approached the suspect’s position," according to the department. "Through the robot’s camera the suspect could be viewed lying on his stomach looking toward the SWAT vehicles. His gun was observed next to his feet and the robot quickly picked up the weapon without him noticing. The weapon was immediately delivered to SWAT personnel."
The department said this was one of "very few known" incidents nationally where a robot was used to disarm an alleged gunman.
Dallas police used a similar robot to deliver a pound of fatal C-4 explosives to Micah Johnson, the 25-year-old who fatally shot five of the department's officers on July 7.