Police Are Lowering the Bar for Use of Deadly Force

by attorneyscottcampbell

Police Are Lowering the Bar for Use of Deadly Force. If you have read previous posts you will know that I was a police officer for over 25 years before becoming an attorney.  I worked in South Florida and moved to Phoenix to attend law school and eventually opened my practice here.  One thing that struck me was the widespread use of deadly force by police here.  From news reports, it seemed like police killed almost a person a week in the greater Phoenix area.  I just checked and see that the count is 37 through the first week of October 2016.

police-are-lowering-the-bar-for-use-of-deadly-force

Police Are Lowering the Bar for Use of Deadly Force

When I was in the police academy, it was hammered into our brains that we could use deadly force only when we feared for our life or the life of another.  While it was technically legal to shoot a fleeing felon, we were told it would probably get us fired and not to do it.  That was it.  Fear for life.

In my practice and in the news I often hear police say that deadly force was used because someone did something like reach into a car or not obey police commands and the officer “feared for his safety.”  That sounds reasonable on its face, but fearing for your safety is far from fearing for your life.

In my years, I feared for my “safety” or feared that I would get injured many times.  I never used deadly force.  Cops and emergency rooms become well acquainted, or at least they did.  It seems our now para-militaristic police would rather shoot someone than take a risk of getting a cut or broken bone.

Police Are Lowering the Bar for Use of Deadly Force

I see videos on the news and YouTube of police shootings that look questionable at the least.  I see police shooting people who are unarmed because they “may be reaching for a gun.”  They could also be reaching for a cell phone, their wallet, or a candy bar. Therefore, “may be reaching for a gun” just isn’t enough to be in fear for your life.  I also see police shooting people who have a gun but are just standing there with the gun pointed at the ground.  A closer call?  Yes?  A tense situation?  Very.  But we were taught that until that gun moved toward someone, don’t shoot.  Now it seems the police culture is “he has a gun, shoot him.”

The law in Arizona allows police to use deadly force “only when the peace officer reasonably believes that it is necessary to defend himself or a third person from what the peace officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.”  I assume other States have identical or very similar laws.

It is a shame that the cries for ‘support of police’ and lamenting that police have ‘such a tough job’ to do is allowing police to shoot people simply because they fear for their “safety” rather than their lives.

Police Are Lowering the Bar for Use of Deadly Force

Advertisements