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Thread: Shoot or no shoot?

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    Default Shoot or no shoot?

    I was asked to make up a thread to talk about lethal force encounters and what it takes for the police to make their decision so I am going to take a stab at it. I don't have a whole lot of time before I go to work and it is very complex to talk about so I'll do my best with the short time I have to type.

    It is not a simple equation of A+B=C. There is not formula that dictates the amount of force used. It is based on perception and knowledge of the situation, people involved, the officers physical skill level, the conditions of the environment, number of people, etc. It is very difficult to train for and present, especially without being able to put people into realistic scenarios so that they can experience and work through problems to see how and why you would react.

    Fist thing to consider is that lethal force is anything that can reasonably cause death or grievous bodily harm. It's not just the cop's firearm, but it could be their baton, car, even their pen or bare hands during a fight. The firearm has the longest range and one of the easiest to bring onto a target so it is the one usually used, but it isn't the only lethal use of force tool out there.

    Really it comes down to the individual officer's perceptions and if they truthfully believe that their life or someone else's is in immediate danger. A small police woman may feel more in danger in a physical struggle with a large man than a 6'10" 300lb cop. There have been justified shootings from cops being in struggles with people. Remember there is always at least 1 firearm at every call a cop responds to, their own. If the cop gets knocked out, he is unable to defend himself. Say a cop gets knocked to the ground during a struggle, which gives the bad guy a chance to get away. If instead the bad guy continues his attack the cop has real reason to believe that their life is in danger and the person is looking to cause harm. They had an opportunity to escape and instead they continue their attack. There is real fear in that situation that if the person continues their attack and is successful the cop could be hurt or even killed by their own weapons.

    Also think about this situation. You are a cop and responding to a disturbance outside a bar. You arrive on scene and find a fight. You are 30 feet away and a guy is on his hands and knees bleeding from his mouth and nose. A guy is 5 feet away and is lining up a soccer style kick to his head. What would you do?

    Another scenario that really hits home the protection of life and serious decision making you guys can think over and even post on what you would do and why.

    You are working on a Saturday afternoon somewhere in the SW. It has been a quiet day and a few more hours and you are done. A call comes over the radio. A neighbor has dialed 911 because they have been hearing shouting next door for the last half hour and then there was what they believed to be gun shots and things are quiet now. A few neighbors have phoned in that they have heard what they believed to be gun shots or fireworks. No one is familiar with gun shot sounds.

    As you respond to the scene dispatch comes up with a history on the house. The parents are chronic alcoholics that fight a lot. We go to the house on average a few times a month and usually arrest the father for hitting the wife. She refuses to leave him. There is also a 16 year old daughter that lives in the house who has taken on the role of raising the 2 younger siblings, a brother and sister ages 6 and 8.

    You arrive on scene and are told by the Sergent to take up a position of cover where you can see the front of the house. You get into position and other units help contain the resistance. At this time dispatch attempts to make phone contact with the house. No one answers the phone for the next 20 minutes.

    Suddenly the front door opens and the 16 year old daughter walks out. You are 30 feet away in your position of cover and you see what you believe to be a handgun in her right hand. She is holding it loosely and down by her side. She isn't swinging it or pointing it anywhere. She takes about 10 steps outside and looks around. You challenge her and tell her you are the police and that she has to drop her weapon. She looks in your direction, never moving the gun and has a blank stare. She slowly turns around and starts walking back to the door.

    What do you do?
    "It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong....I'm not a big man" Chevy Chase, Fletch Lives.

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    As I'm not a cop I don't know what I'd do in most of those situations. If I were a cop, I'd hope that the training I was provided, my experiences, and my intuiton would help me make the right decision. I guess if you truly believe their is mortal danger to yourself or to others around you / general public, you make the decision to act.

    As for the whole carwash incident, I'm not sure how else an officer is supposed to stop a car trying to ram past? I guess there are a lot of "what if's". What if the car isn't stopped, and while trying to escape t-bones another car killing the driver? Did it look like the car was about to get past the blockade? Does the officer who fired have a history of weapon discharges?

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    Originally posted by phaneufed
    As I'm not a cop I don't know what I'd do in most of those situations. If I were a cop, I'd hope that the training I was provided, my experiences, and my intuiton would help me make the right decision. I guess if you truly believe their is mortal danger to yourself or to others around you / general public, you make the decision to act.

    I think that that is what DayGlow is getting at here; there are so many tactical geniuses and armchair heros on this board who seem to have all the answers when it comes to Police actions. Just read the carwash shooting thread to see them in action. DayGlow is both giving them a chance to demonstrate their superior knowlege and understanding and as well give other board members to work through a tactical puzzle.
    Originally posted by 01RedDX


    Eye for an eye should apply to both, like if you raped a cat, you would get raped by a bigger cat. Counselling doesn't work on animal rapists you clown.

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    Your last situation is pretty hard, you can't shoot a confused girl in the back who's holding a tv remote control in her hand. Let her go back in and call swat, your part is done - go to timmies.

    BTW I believe officer was justified in recent shooting. Unless you carry a electrical demobilizer like in F&F 2! Officer just protected himself and others on street IMO.
    Last edited by B20EF; 03-20-2009 at 07:10 AM.

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    Originally posted by B20EF
    Your last situation is pretty hard, you can't shoot a confused girl in the back who's holding a tv remote control in her hand. Let her go back in and call swat, your part is done - go to timmies.
    No you can't. But you also can't be sure that she isn't going to go back into the house and blow everyone away while she's in there.

    So it sets up a good diliemma that shows how much training and thought have to go into a situation like that.

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    I have no idea how any member of the general public could criticize the actions of any peace officer is a potential deadly force scenario. Unless you are standing there in the moment, STFU!

    I wouldn't want to do the job of the CPS (or any other police force for that matter) for all the tea in China. If you challenge a LEO with deadly force then you deserve what you get.
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    Originally posted by Masked Bandit
    I have no idea how any member of the general public could criticize the actions of any peace officer is a potential deadly force scenario. Unless you are standing there in the moment, STFU!

    I wouldn't want to do the job of the CPS (or any other police force for that matter) for all the tea in China. If you challenge a LEO with deadly force then you deserve what you get.
    I second that.

    It is easy for some lazy slob to criticise the police while they are sitting on the couch eating chips. When in reality, if a crinminal confronted them, they would probably crap their pants out of fear.

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    My uncle is a K9 unit for the RCMP and he only drew his gun once. I personally think it's bullshit. He is a big guy so he needs to do what he can with his hands before resorting to guns.

    He is constantly on "paid leave" because some asshole that his dog chewed up says that he used excessive force. Only in Canada does this shit go on.

    Im not suggesting that BART has the best way of handling things, but if I get pulled over in the deep south I expect that the officer is going to come with his rod out, or atleast with his hand on it in its holster. I have seen it time and time again, when he gets to my car and HE is comfortable he will relax a little. I don't know for CPS but for RCMP they have to fill out a lot of paperwork everytime they draw their weapon.

    Which IMO is pretty shitty. Police should always be able to do what they need to to feel comfortable and incontrol of the situation.

    As far as domestics go all I know is they are always the most difficult and none are the same, biggest problem (according to my uncle) is that although it's obvious who did what, nobody is willing to talk about anything or press charges. Total waste of CPS resourses.
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    Good read DayGlow, hopefully it will get some people to stop and think before shooting their mouth off about things they know nothing about.

    Thanks
    In reference to Rob Anders:
    Originally posted by ZenOps
    Hes not really that bad...

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    thats the thing hey...
    put the common person in these situations...with a gun
    guranteed they use it to protect themselves,
    and for those criminals who assualt police officers,
    what do you expect to happen??
    a police officer attempts to pull you over because your driving a stolen vehicle, you then try to drive your car through a door to get out...obviously they are going to have to do something to stop you
    These opinions are entirely my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

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    this scenario doesn't strike me as that difficult. draw your weapon, yell commands at her as one cop walks towards her, restrain her. she ain't gonna pull off a hip shot, especially facing the wrong direction, and dazed and confused. definitely do not shoot. unless she draws and points it at you, there isn't much to be worried about.

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    Originally posted by googe
    this scenario doesn't strike me as that difficult. draw your weapon, yell commands at her as one cop walks towards her, restrain her. she ain't gonna pull off a hip shot, especially facing the wrong direction, and dazed and confused. definitely do not shoot. unless she draws and points it at you, there isn't much to be worried about.
    Talk about over simplified. That is the type of thinking that gets both cops and civilians killed. Anytime we face someone who already has a gun in their hand, or maybe they don't even have a gun in their hand, we are in reactionary mode. This is because we can't read their minds, or predict with 100% accuracy what their next move will be. They will always have some advantage over us, which is why we need to handle these situations very methodically, and time our time (unless circumstances rapidly change) She can turn around and raise that gun in a fraction of a second, whether it's a hip shot or not. There is a LOT to be worried about when someone is carrying around a gun - you don't just give commands and restrain them, it doesn't work that way.

    What if you do rush her and try to restrain her at the door, and there is someone else in the house waiting to get a shot off? Maybe the whole thing is an ambush? Even if you do attempt to restrain her and she is fighting with you, how easy do you think that will be when she is committed to fighting you off? Maybe she tries to raise that gun while you attempt to restrain her - does you cover have a clear shot, or could they potentially hit you and maybe someone else?

    You may think this isn't too difficult, and that there isn't much to be worried about but you are dead wrong. These situations are the most dangerous we can face, and they turn into long drawn out affairs where we call people out to us after disarming - unless it's a situation where we need to take immediate action, and then that is a whole different set of decisions.

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    I would reluctantly let her walk back into the house.
    ---

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    Shoot first, let God sort them out later.

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    Originally posted by googe
    this scenario doesn't strike me as that difficult.
    And that's why you don't get to carry a sidearm.
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    Good read, DayGlow- it gives some real insight on the snap decisions that police officers have to make every day.

    I don't know any details about the carwash shooting, just what I've seen in the news, but from what I know, I personally think the shoot was justified. Again, its really easy for me to say that, but you got a guy with previous criminal history driving a stolen vehicle, attempting to gun it towards you...there's no option but to shoot.

    As for the two scenarios you put forward...I've heard that a safe distance a cop should keep between himself and someone with a knife is at least 20 feet. For the first scenario, you're 30 feet away, no visible weapons, but there's no chance of you tackling this guy before he lands the kick to the victim's head. And tackling him is a bad idea anyway, since you don't know if he has a weapon, or even who the real bad guy is. I'm stumped on this one, but when I read it, my first instinct said to pull out the sidearm and yell 'Police, get down now!'. As I'm typing this, I wonder if the taser is a better option, but if the object is to stop this guy from kicking the other guy, I say pull out the sidearm and get him down, and then put the gun away once the situation is calmer.

    Second one is more for the Tac team to deal with, but the scenario implies that Tac isn't on the scene yet. You obviously can't shoot her in the back, and that gun may be a cordless phone for all you know. I'd stay behind cover, but move a step out, hand resting near the holster if I need the gun. Identify myself as a police officer, and say she needs to drop the gun. As you said, she walks back towards the house...you have no idea whats going on inside, so I wouldn't move from my spot, but repeat the command and tell her to drop the weapon. If there are a few more officers with me, its better to prevent her from re-entering the house. But with the front door open, and her being only a few steps from it, its not wise to follow her. If she stops, keep talking and try to get her to drop the gun. If she enters the house, back off and wait for Tac.

    How badly did I fail?

    Originally posted by googe
    this scenario doesn't strike me as that difficult. draw your weapon, yell commands at her as one cop walks towards her, restrain her. she ain't gonna pull off a hip shot, especially facing the wrong direction, and dazed and confused. definitely do not shoot. unless she draws and points it at you, there isn't much to be worried about.
    You and your fellow cops are 30 feet away, while she only came out of the house by 10 steps. She's already walking back...how do you expect to rush her before she turns around and shoots, or someone else in the house blows your head off with a shotgun? You have no clue whats going to happen...rushing in there would only get you killed.
    Last edited by Stealth22; 03-20-2009 at 10:29 AM.

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    Originally posted by Stealth22
    I say pull out the sidearm and get him down, and then put the gun away once the situation is calmer.
    I don't know what I'd do in either situation, but I guarantee that if you shoot someone outside a bar, the situation will definitely NOT get calmer. Instead of having one fight to deal with, suddenly you have the entire crowd turning into a riot mentality, and who knows how many friends of the kicker are going to turn on you.

    I think what people fail to think about is that it's not just one scenario where maybe you stop the kicker, or tackle the girl, and everything works out. You might have to do the same thing the next night. And the next night. And the next night. Maybe you tackle the girl 9 times, but the 10th time someone shoots you from the doorway. You don't want to go home to your family 9/10 times, you want to go back 10/10. You can't make the wrong decision EVER, because it might be the last decision you make.

    Good post Dayglow; it's a shame that people like 5hift will always be there to criticize every decision from safe distance, regardless of the outcome.
    Last edited by Doozer; 03-20-2009 at 10:34 AM.

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    EDIT: Someone beat me to what I was going to say

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    Originally posted by phil98z24



    What if you do rush her and try to restrain her at the door, and there is someone else in the house waiting to get a shot off? Maybe the whole thing is an ambush?
    see, now that is just dumb. if this is an example of what level of common sense the average cop has, then I can see why the presented scenario would be difficult.

    Originally posted by BerserkerCatSplat


    And that's why you don't get to carry a sidearm.
    observant readers will notice that my solution did not involve shooting the firearm.

    edit to add: I am in no way saying that cops are not faced with difficult decisions, but shit like this, and the polish guy in the airport with a stapler, are not examples of them. thats just plain failure.

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    Originally posted by Doozer
    I don't know what I'd do in either situation, but I guarantee that if you shoot someone outside a bar, the situation will definitely NOT get calmer. Instead of having one fight to deal with, suddenly you have the entire crowd turning into a riot mentality, and who knows how many friends of the kicker are going to turn on you.
    I didn't say shoot him, I said draw on him. Being 30 feet away and seeing this guy about to kick someone else in the head who is already bleeding, I don't see any other way to stop him.

    Thats why I said, draw the weapon, yell 'police, get down', make sure they're BOTH on the ground with their hands behind their heads (since you don't know who the real 'bad guy' is, if there is one), put the gun away, and handcuff them for questioning.

    Originally posted by googe
    see, now that is just dumb. if this is an example of what level of common sense the average cop has, then I can see why the presented scenario would be difficult.
    How do you know that the mom and the daughter don't BOTH have guns, and the mom suddenly appears at the door and opens fire when she sees you trying to handcuff her daughter?
    Last edited by Stealth22; 03-20-2009 at 10:37 AM.

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