If you find yourself in a deadly force situation shoot center mass. Most Grok readers don’t need this. But for those who do not understand let’s go through this slowly.
Related: What Self Defense Looks Like In 2020
The idea of shooting dangerous suspects “to injure” is not realistic. It is not an accepted police tactic. Officers are trained to shoot “center mass” for a reason.
It is not easy to hit extremities when all parties are still and there is no stress. Hitting extremities while one party is moving it is extremely difficult. When two or more parties are moving hitting extremities is nearly impossible. Hitting extremities while the parties are moving and under stress is a hope and a prayer. In short it is a good way to wind up dead.
There was a police shooting of a man in Philadelphia on Monday. The man, Walter Wallace, was shot. The shot was the cause of his death. He was approaching officers with a knife. It was a deadly force situation in the assessment of the officers on scene.
His death has led to several nights of protests and rioting in the city. The media are inferring police should shoot “to injure” rather than “to kill”. They are saying and writing just prevent the incident from going further.
The media characterization of such a situation is ignorant in the extreme. It ignores the safety of the public. It ignores the safety of the officer. And it fails to recognize the reality of a deadly force encounter. Deadly force encounters are those where there is a probability someone may lose their life.
Police are not trained to “shoot to kill”. Such characterizations are ignorant utterances designed to incite further violence. What police are trained to do is to shoot at center mass until the threat stops. That may mean the attacker is killed. It can and does happen that way sometimes. More often it does not end in death. Shooting for center mass means shooting for the middle of the largest part of the attacker you can see.
When an officer discharges their weapon they know they are under investigation for murder. They must first determine they are in a deadly force situation. Such situations are considered murders until there is evidence to the contrary. Departments investigate to that standard. All shootings are extremely closely scrutinized. Departments must evaluate the situation, the parties, the actions and the results.
There is no way for officers to know if people they face are going through a mental-health crisis. They may be violent felons. Officers often just do not know. Much of their training is how to identify, de-escalate and deal with such situations. But, it is as much art as it is science. It involves human interaction.
Facing the unknown daily
Know this; police officers are put in a very difficult position daily. They face positions where their own lives and the lives of those around them may be at stake. That can happen any time, any day, with anybody.
When you’re at the scene and you have an individual armed with a knife coming toward you, it’s very real, right now. It is a whole different type of situation. Officers have to make very quick judgments. Yes, they are trained. But they are also human. So is the person approaching with a deadly weapon.
Joe Biden has repeatedly advocated for shooting dangerous suspects in the leg. This continues despite criticism from police training experts. Biden first advocated for the tactic at a campaign event in June. He doubled down on it at a town hall earlier this month. He doesn’t take expert advice very well. Either he considers himself more expert or he disrespects law enforcement professionals. He would do well to talk with his personal protection detail and see what they do and why.
The Biden tactic would put officers at risk in deadly situations. It also blurs the line between the use of deadly and less-lethal force. Currently, police who shoot a suspect must justify their actions under standards used for deadly force. The scenario advocated for by Biden could lead to police encounters where shooting a suspect does not have to be justified under deadly-force standards. Instead they might be reviewed under looser standards for nonlethal force.
Second guessing the person in harms way
Considering it a viable option to try to shoot to wound leaves a lot of gray area for what was someone’s intention when they used the gun. The issue is simplified to a great degree, in the United States for law enforcement and personal defense. The understanding now is, “You use a gun, it’s lethal force. Period. Consider that carefully.”
Many shootings end in tragedy. There are no simple answers to how such situations can be handled better. Some people say we should not respond with mental health workers. Okay fine, but what happens when the armed person is beyond reason due to drugs?
Do you think an unarmed mental health person should be there responding to a person with a knife? It’s very complicated. Is the probability for harm higher or is it lower? That mental health person and the public are probably at higher risk. The person with the knife is at lower risk. Does that work better for you?
People advocating for a “Lone Ranger” shoot ‘em in the arm approach have never been there. They have not had to have the conversation with the victims. Maybe there are experts in the area… maybe. There’s time to find the right professional… maybe. How fast does your physician come when you call? Hey, just asking.