Another one. Another person lays dead on the ground, victim of police brutality and murder. The person being shot is an unarmed homeless man. “It is currently unknown why officers engaged with the victim or his current condition. Details are few, but we are presenting it for your judgment and will update when they are available. |UPDATE| KTLA5 reports: Officers were dispatched to the area of East Sixth Street and South San Pedro Street (map) about 11:36 a.m. after a report of an altercation between two people, said Officer Jack Richter, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. After the officers arrived a struggle ensued, during which police tazed a man, the LAPD said. The man was then shot by police, the department said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.” The victim, was already on the ground, being tazed when shots were fired by police. See below for more:

Police Slaughter by the LA Police Department is unacceptable. For example below are some “guidelines” that police should follow when on the scene. Very few police officers these days would choose to follow this, instead they take unarmed human life.

 

Guidelines for the use of lethal force

The first shot a police officer must deliver occurs under extreme stress and requires split-second decision-making. A suspect, considered a grave threat to the officer and others, is present and the cop’s job is to stop him. Our primary concern is that the use of force—especially when lethal—is conducted in a manner that protects life, is reasonable for the circumstances and is legally justifiable. Sometimes this “formula” is clear-cut. In other situations, it can be an extremely hard challenge to apply.

Because this is such an important topic in our world, this article will focus on some suggested guidelines for the use of lethal force. The genesis for these guidelines came from my friend Ron McCarthy (LAPD SWAT, ret.). I have developed them with my own thoughts and additions. I am solely responsible if we disagree on them. Hopefully they may provide you with some additional material to pass on to your officers to maintain or raise their awareness for such a critical moment—and the challenges that will follow.

The Rules

A good place to start is the basic rules of firearms safety. Sometimes these get applied or acknowledged strictly within a firearms training context. But the truth of the matter is that they are equally—if not more so—relevant to law enforcement’s use of weapons while on duty. To simplify, there are two prime rules:

1. Master Grip—Finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until the conscious decision is made to use lethal force. The “conscious decision” part should be stressed. Whether it’s a split-second progression to such an alternative or a measured response to a suspect’s actions, an officer’s brain should be involved in the determination to press the trigger.

2. Laser Rule—Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you don’t intend to (or may have to) use lethal force against.

Why are these rules so important? Because they can be costly if ignored. Example: A SWAT team made entry searching for an armed suspect. As the first officer crossed the threshold into the suspect’s bedroom, the latter fatally shot him. The second officer then had to deal with the two immediate priorities of helping his partner and responding to the suspect’s deadly actions. But this cop’s difficulties were significantly compounded by the fact that he was then shot in the back by a third SWAT member. His tactical vest saved him from serious injury.

You probably have your own examples. They should be used to make sure officers understand the price we pay for such failures.

The Guidelines

Having set the groundwork with the above discussion, the next step is a progression of guidelines that I truly believe have value for you and your officers in the context of lethal force. Evaluate how they fit into your philosophy regarding use of force—but at least consider them.

If you use lethal force, it must be against the intended suspect.

This would on its face seem to be quite easy, but experienced cops know that’s not always the case. There are significant examples where the wrong person—cop or innocent civilian—has unfortunately been shot instead. Prevention rests with training, which must be maintained at a certain level. One critical aspect is accuracy—we’re responsible for every press of the trigger. That first shot, as well as subsequent ones, should hit what we intend to hit.

Right now, you’re thinking that, that is a real challenge when a suspect is about to do the same or has already started shooting. I agree. I would only add the fact that we own every round we fire or it will own us.

The other part of this equation is that the moments prior to and during the use of lethal force require strong decision-making skills. That brings us back to that “conscious decision” thing mentioned earlier. Important here is an understanding of not just the technicalities of how we shoot (smooth trigger press, front sight, etc.) but also why this action is taking place. Rapid situational awareness and high-speed logical cognitive effort are required. To help develop these skills, officers should be regularly trained using force-on-force scenarios or other similar decision-making options. They should also be trained to frequently focus on mental rehearsal for shoot and not-shoot situations.

The suspect must be a lethal threat or reasonably perceived as one.

This is a natural extension of the previous guideline. To a degree, it does have a certain “no-brainer” quality to it—we wouldn’t be using lethal force if the suspect wasn’t a danger to someone, right?

Use-of-force for police officers is codified in many state penal codes. An example is the California Penal Code section 835a.: “Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.” –MORE

 

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