Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Shoot to kill" policy for NYPD is claimed and changes sought

The item from yesterday should have had some other things to be complete. The NYPD had critics for shootings, especially the Sean Bell shooting in 2006. LAPD's currently being criticized by many about shooting an armed-with-knife suspect by person's denying that shooting was an overreaction, that there was no knife, that a non-lethal response needed to be attempted first, and that there was no knife present at all.

Here's the story on the NY side, "Proposal to change shoot to kill policy for cops,"
Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Joe Torres, WABC, Ch. 7, New York,

The story on video is brief and direct.

What started criticism was was the shooting of Sean Bell by undercover officers after coming out of a bachelor party on November 26, 2006, when police believed there was gun drawn by someone in the car Bell was in, causing officers to fire 50 shots immediately.
The police were found not to have violated the law, but I think that was not true, that it was a CYA situation with mistake upon mistake happening to result in this fatal outcome.

The Wikipedia entry has many details and background, but is a version presented by assorted contributors who may themselves be in error, but it's still very helpful to see so many things happening to cause this to occur. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Bell_shooting_incident

Police are supposed to apprehend or stop suspects, not to be the executioner, so assuming a shoot to kill policy in the first place in contrary to what the legal system supports.

ABOUT DEADLY OR LETHAL FORCE, IN GENERAL, What is it? and What happens because of it?
If deadly force was justified, as where a suspect's own actions rise to that level, then the death of that subject by a responding police officer who is trying to stop the suspect from carrying out his action that is reasonably believed to be an immediate threat to the officer or another innocent person is justified.

Once that stopping the actions that posed the threat occurs, the continued use of deadly force not longer is justified since the threat employing deadly force has ended.

So the cops can't then kill the suspect. However, if the suspect then dies from wounds inflicted in the justified use of deadly force, that is within legal and moral limits since the suspect created that situation.

Again, as in the doctrine of retreat where self-defense is claimed, a fleeing person is not usually ripe for shooting (deadly force) since the necessity to stop the threatened harm has ceased by his withdrawal. There still may be a crime, but it’s not one that supports a lawful use of deadly force as a response at that point. (In certain situations, shooting a fleeing suspect can be proper, but that is in specific conditions.)

Also, where is it the law that a police officer MUST use non-lethal force to respond to a deadly force situation? If there is truly deadly force used by a suspect, why should the police risk their own lives or the life of innocent persons where the suspect can literally kill them?

Police are supposed to have an acceptable casualty level of “zero” in doing their jobs. You may find military actions where deaths are expected outcomes of various choices where the military operations occurs, but that's not police work.

Sometimes you have to recognize what's there is all you have to work with, and not pretend that any different outcome is possible. But neither can you indicate permission for police to kill anyone anytime they shoot.

Once the threat ends, you don't continue to guarantee death. The death as a consequence of "stopping" (shooting for center mass) instead of a "wounding" result (some wishful thinking on marksmanship) is a permissible outcome of the justified use of deadly force, and that it’s the suspect himself who decides and causes that condition to materialize by his own choice of actions that precipitate such responses.

Now, this is something of a discussion that I put together very quickly and there may be some vagueness that needs narrowing but I think you can see there's more here than what most people don't or refuse to consider or understand. And let's not forget that the outcomes can change with a change in what the facts happen to be. Not all situations are equal, but the principles to use remain consistent.

And when state Senator Gloria Romero proclaims, "We are not in the Wild West," you have a lot going on for police to handle to show she's wrong and she should see that.