A potential first in Dallas: Remote-controlled robot detonates bomb to kill sniper

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DALLAS, Texas — The law enforcement tactics used against the sniper in Dallas may have been a first. Micah Johnson was killed by a remote-controlled robot that detonated a bomb where he was holed up.

Remote-controlled robots have been used by the United States military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to defuse explosive devices, and in recent years, some local police departments have invested in the technology to investigate suspicious packages and cargo.

But in Dallas — a potential first in the United States — the delivery of an explosive device by a robot that was then used to kill the police shooting suspect holed up in a garage.

Negotiations to end the standoff had gone on for hours.

“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was. Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said.

Police haven’t released details of their tactics — including which type of robot was used, information about the bomb and how it was detonated — or whether the robot was even present at the time of the explosion.

Officials with Endeavor Robotics say it has sold robots to several police departments in the Dallas area, but weren’t sure whether their device was used on Thursday night in Dallas.

“Our whole purpose is to keep people at a safe distance from hazardous conditions we have seen that in Iraq and Afghanistan with the IED threat,” Tim Trainer, VP of Endeavor Robotics said.

Robots are expensive — with some costing more than $100,000 — but police say the technology is well worth the cost.

“Before a bomb technician had to climb into a suit to go down and take care of business, where now we can use the robotic system. It’s made the job so much better,” an official said.

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