With every officer-involved shooting seemingly going viral these days, it’s no surprise that some cops are becoming gun shy (forgive the pun) when it comes time to use appropriate force to apprehend and/or subdue a suspect.
Case in point, the female officer in Chicago who opted not to draw her gun and shoot a violent, drugged up assailant who viciously beat her to a pulp. Why didn’t she fire on the suspect?
Well, Chicago Supt. Eddie Johnson told ABC 7 News, “She thought she was going to die. She knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to, because she didn’t want her family or the department to have to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news.”
That’s right, she was so concerned with the potential for media backlash for doing what was not only reasonable from a legal standpoint but also necessary for her own survival that she failed to act and almost got herself killed. Remember how defensive gun uses work. Whether you are a police officer or a civilian, in most states, one can use deadly force if one reasonably fears death or great bodily harm.
Based on the available facts of this case, that female officer would have been totally justified if she had pulled her gun and shot the attacker. However, at that critical moment when her life was on the line, she second-guessed her knowledge of the law, her training, and her instincts. She’s very lucky to be alive.
In an interview with Fox&Friends, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke addressed the incident, indicating that this wasn’t an isolated event.
“It’s my biggest fear coming out of Ferguson, I said those sorts of things in December of 2014, that sooner or later the American police officer would become less assertive and they would start to second guess themselves,” Sheriff Clarke said last Friday.
“And I’m all across this nation talking to cops now, including here in New York City, I’m recognizable to by most cops – and I tell them – I say, ‘trust your judgment. You have to trust your judgment, I know this is going to be ugly for you during this period of time but the law is on your side,’” Clarke added.
The same advice holds true for Joe civilian. Trust your judgment and your training!
For starters, if you can leave the immediate area and avoid conflict altogether, do it! Unless you’re an LEO, you have the option of walking away from trouble, you’re not compelled by your duty and profession to run towards it. So, at the first sign of trouble, leave, skedaddle. You can phone authorities from a safe place and report what you witnessed.
Second, if you can’t leave, try to de-escalate the situation. Sometimes a calm tone and an apologetic demeanor (even if you haven’t done anything wrong) can be very effective in terms of settling down a potential threat. Ignoring a potential threat may work as well. Now, that’s not going to work for everyone. Violent criminals, violent drug addicts, violent mental defectives are probably not going to care what you have to say nor are they going to allow you to ignore them.
So, lastly, if you do have to draw your weapon, trust your judgment and your training. Stay in the moment, do not worry about media backlash or the optics of the situation or potential legal fees or anything else for that matter. Just concentrate on the threat and do what you have to do to get out of there in one piece.
Remember, the law is on your side too. Not only that, common sense is on your side for it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by six.