By Frank McGurty
(Reuters) - The chief of the Dallas Police Department vigorously defended the use of a bomb mounted on a robot to kill a gunman who shot to death five officers during a march to protest police violence against African-Americans.
In taking personal responsibility for approving the plan in the aftermath of Thursday's attack, Chief David Brown said he was convinced that the gunman would have sought to harm other police officers if he had hesitated to give the go-ahead.
"I approved it and would do it again if presented with same circumstances," Brown told CNN on Sunday, referring to the strategy of deploying a bomb-equipped robot into a room where the suspect was holed up after his shooting rampage.
After two hours of fruitless negotiations with the gunman, Brown asked senior officers to "use their imaginations" to devise a strategy to disable the shooter, later identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a former U.S. Army Reserve soldier who authorities said embraced black nationalism.
"He seemed very much in control and very determined to hurt other officers," said the chief, who revealed that Johnson taunted negotiators and asked them how many officers he had hit with gunfire. "Without our actions, he would have, he would have hurt more officers."
Brown said he stood by his decision but understood why questions have been raised about the use of deadly force against the gunman, rather than opting for a non-lethal method to disable him.
"I appreciate critics but they are not on the ground. And their lives are not at risk," the chief said.
(Reporting by Frank McGurty in New York; editing by Andrew Roche)