Police in Dallas responded to fatal sniper fire Thursday night with what may be an unprecedented tactic. After negotiations with the suspect broke down, police decided to send in a robot armed with an explosive device which they detonated, killing Micah Xavier Johnson, 25.

“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,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at a news conference Friday morning. “Other options would have exposed our officers to great danger. The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”

While some experts say this is the first time a bomb disposal robot has been used to kill an armed suspect in the U.S., robots have been used to kill targets in Iraq, according to defense expert Peter Singer, author of “The Changing Character of War.”

“If they thought an insurgent was hiding in an alley, they would send a MARCbot down first, and if they found someone waiting in ambush, take him out with the Claymore.”

Domestically, police departments across the country have been using the technology thanks to the military’s 1033 Program, which distributes surplus military equipment to police departments. SWAT teams have used robots modified with an X-ray to detect and safely detonate explosives.

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