Terry I appreciate your comment.

Obviously officers need to use reasonable judgement when to use a baton or fire or not fire a warning shot or a wounding shot or fire multiple rounds into center mass.

We had a 13-year-old boy killed by police in a park because he failed to drop a plastic rifle. The officer easily could have put a round in the dirt when the boy didn’t drop the toy gun. But, because he had been trained to NEVER fire a warning shot he killed the boy with multiple rounds.

Moreover, it is more likely that the kill shots he fired could have passed through the boy and into a 3rd party than it is that one warning shot into the dirt would have injured a 3rd party.

Killing him was actually more dangerous to 3rd parties than a warning shot.

There are many occasions where the suspect is within ten feet of the officer. The officer is shouting, “Drop the ____ (gun, knife, hatchet)” and they just stand there, frozen. With that time and short distance the officer might well be able to aim for a shoulder or leg. Instead he/she fires five or six rounds center mass, killing the person because is trained to only fire multiple rounds in center mass.

Yes, a bullet to the leg might clip an artery but a tourniquet usually will save that person’s life. A bullet to the heart is always fatal.

In San Jose several years ago two male deputies entered an Asian woman’s apartment. She had not committed a crime. They found her in her kitchen. She was holding some sort of a kitchen tool described as an Asian vegetable peeler (not a knife) that was 10-inches long. She was under five-feet tall and under 105 pounds.

They shouted for her to drop the “weapon” but she didn’t understand them because she didn’t speak English. Instead of using their batons, or firing a warning shot or putting one bullet into her, they opened up and shot her dead in her own kitchen because that is how they were trained — shoot to kill and only shoot to kill.

There are dozens if not hundreds of examples of officers firing multiple rounds into center mass in situations where they had the reasonable ability to fire one warning shot or one round into a shoulder or a leg but they were only trained to shoot to kill so that’s what they did.

No discretion. No alternate training. One size fits all. Shoot to kill and nothing else.

I stand by my point that police need to be trained to use good judgment to decide where to end on a series of escalations:

Can I reasonably safely use my baton in this situation?

Can I reasonably safely get this person to comply by firing a warning shot?

Can I reasonably safely end this with a shot to a noncritical area?

Do I NEED to fire multiple rounds into this suspect’s center mass?

Can police always use a baton or fire a warning shot or wounding shot. Of course not.

Should police be trained to NEVER use a baton, fire a warning shot or fire a wounding shot.

Of course not.

— David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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