But we don't think rationally in hundredths of a second. The goal of tactics must be to buy time and the chance for communication, O'Keefe said. "Technology could help in this area, if it can be developed in an affordable way." He advocated the use of portable thermal imaging scanners, which can see body heat through barriers, to let cops glimpse what's behind doors before they open them.
It's tempting to daydream of how that night might have been different had Neri and Hallik been equipped with such a camera, watching the heat outline of Stansbury's lanky frame heading up to the winter night, ablaze with life. They wait and watch to see what kind of young man emerges from the stairwell, the element of fearful surprise all but extinguished. One can imagine wordsthere would be time for words.
"Hey, kid! Go back downstairs," they might have said. "Don't you know the roof can be dangerous?" It was dangerous, for Stansbury. He died, and now it's up to the courts, not scientists, to determine whether Neri should be held responsible.