Wheelchair gunman surrenders to police robot

Screen Shot 2010-01-13 At 11.07.27 Am This is a detail from a larger photograph showing an alleged hostage-taker in rural Virginia who surrendered to a police robot. The Standard has the full photo and the rest of the story.

Best bit: "Police had negotiated with [Warren] Taylor by phone, but he made no demands other than a request for a pizza. He is reported to have told police he had a military background." The article doesn't say whether or not he got the pizza.

Wheelchair gunman surrenders to police robot


  1. On second thought, it’s kinda disheartening we skipped the entire monkey-cop generation of crime fighting and went straight to robots.

  2. Interesting that this is covered in a British paper, since it’s a pretty small-time story that you wouldn’t normally expect to see outside a local paper.

    I guess the robotic law enforcement angle is especially meaningful in the UK – that whole “safer living through authoritarian technology” narrative?

  3. This story is from a couple of weeks back. There was a bunch of coverage at the time. I can tell you this from what I recall reading:
    He did get the pizza and shared it with his hostages.

    From the sounds of things, it also seemed like one of the hostages sort of established a rapport with him and helped talk him down as well.

    1. See?! I was right! Giving him the pizza was the right thing to do!

      I was thinking of the hungry hostages. Nine hours, what do you expect?

      So take THAT you stingy people! :-)

    2. at the risk of sounding flippant about what i’m sure was a serious/tense situation, i gotta say, getting hooked up with pizza would really help the stockholm syndrome along for me

      1. I suspect that the hostages were saying they were hungry, and that that may be part of how one hostage built rapport. Once the pizza was there and they shared it, the gunman’s surrender was just a matter of patience. Fortunately it appears that someone outside the PO noticed that fact.

        Seriously, when I made my first post in this thread, I thought the joke was that OF COURSE you give pizza to the hostage-taker! That’s easy, and builds trust and goodwill, which is what you need in a hostage negotiation. I didn’t think that would be in any way controversial except among the drooling macho-fantasy types, who think you should gas the whole building rather than waste police time trying to save a few hostages.

        Fortunately they don’t show up here too often any more.

  4. From the photo, I assumed the robot was armed and wondered how one of those clumsy things could threaten anyone – even someone in a wheelchair. Turns out it’s just checking him for explosives.. makes more sense.

  5. Did the robot deliver the pizza first?

    Do they ever put a flash grenade in the pizza box? Mmmmm… flash grenade pizza.

  6. My dream police robot is part vending machine, part entertainment center, negotiating snacks/drinks/dvds in exchange for hostages. Maybe throw in a foot massage and drop him a few Oxycontin.

  7. Actually, during the (first?) Persian Gulf war there was video of Iraqi soldiers trying to surrender to drone aircraft.

  8. It was a fairly small town. People knew the guy, and he wasn’t that bad a guy. They knew what had happened to him. They were sorry for him and they didn’t want him to get hurt; and they were reasonably sure he didn’t really want to hurt anybody.

    Not so much establishing empathy as reminding each other of the empathy that already existed.

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