Okay, raise your hand if you honestly believe that police officers go to work each and every day looking for someone to kill. How many of you think officers shoot people for fun? Do you think officers are trained to shoot to kill?
Are you on the fence about all of this deadly force stuff? Maybe you’re the person who thinks police officers should run and tackle the man who’s firing a semi-automatic at them. Or, perhaps you’d rather see officers duck and dodge bullets while trying to squirt pepper spray in the shooter’s eyes? Oh, wait. I forgot that many of you believe that pepper spray is too cruel to use on suspects (but it’s okay if the little darlings shoot at officers). Tasers are too violent. Beanbags could hurt someone (never mind that the “someone” is lobbing rocks, bottles, or bullets at the officers). Handcuffs … aww, they might leave a boo-boo on the wrists of the guy who just used an ax handle to beat his wife and kids just prior to biting quarter-sized chunk of flesh from the cheek of the officer who arrested him.
Whatever the reason and/or belief, scores of people simply don’t know or understand the laws and/or the policies regarding the use of force, specifically deadly force. So let’s attempt to put this in perspective. First of all, deadly force can be used in self defense or in the defense of others. Therefore, if a police officer perceives his/her life, or the life of another, is in immediate danger, the use of deadly force is allowable by law. The key word in all of this is “perceive,” (to become aware of through the senses, especially sight and hearing).
One officer may see a situation in an entirely different view than other officers at the scene. One may feel his life is in immediate danger while another doesn’t necessarily see the encounter in the same light. Remember, each person has a unique view of every single situation. Only YOU can see from your own eyes. So, the Monday morning quarterbacks who cry “MURDER” at the top of their lungs every time officers use deadly force, well, they absolutely have no leg to stand on, nor can they make even a half-baked guess at what happened and why it did. Why not? Because they weren’t there when the event happened, therefore they are unable to see what happened through the eyes of the people who were there. AND, they could not—no way possible—perceive the situation in the same light as the officer(s) who are forced to fire their weapons in the course of their duties.
Sure, other police officers can rely on their own experiences to form their opinions of others in similar situations, but even they cannot say how another officer perceived the event because they cannot see through the eyes of another, nor can they adequately sense the emotions and thoughts experienced by another officer.
You know, I challenge anyone to walk in a police officer’s footsteps for one month. And I dare them to reach for pepper spray or try to shoot the gun from the hand of the guy who’s sending bullets in their direction. I dare them to wait until the shooter is out of ammunition and then calmly walk over to arrest the guy who’s twice their size and hell bent on killing a cop.
As an officer for 30 days, I dare you to allow someone to use a deadly weapon against your partners and friends while you stand idly by watching the events unfold. I dare you to hear and see gunfire and then run toward it hoping and praying you can stop the shooter before he kills someone.
I dare you to have the strength to live a “normal” life after killing someone while defending your own life or the lives of others. I dare you.
Police work is not a game where someone can sit at home and control the action with a joystick and a few buttons and wheels. It’s about real people doing a real job that just happens to be extremely dangerous.
What are the rules governing a police officer’s use of deadly force? Where did the rule originate? Was is drafted by a group of trigger-happy cops? Well, it may surprise some of you to know that the law pertaining to the use of force was set in stone by the Supreme Court, and it is the rule of law that must be adhered to by ALL police officers in the U.S.
“The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” [Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)]
*One thing to remember, department use of force policies can vary from one department to another. However, agencies can only make their rules tougher than the laws allow, not more relaxed.
Here’s a quick quiz about the use of deadly force.
Deadly Force Quiz
1. Police officers are legally allowed to shoot a fleeing criminal suspect, when?
b) only when the suspect has killed someone within the past three hours
c) only if the suspect clearly has a weapon in his hand(s)
d) when the suspect has killed someone and the officer believes the suspect will continue to kill or further cause serious bodily injury to others
2. Police officers must be absolutely certain that a suspect is in possession of a dangerous weapon before they’re legally permitted to use deadly force. True or False
3. An officer has been ambushed by two drunken criminals who continue to beat and batter her with a five-foot piece of lumber (2×4). She is unable to escape and is nearing the point of unconsciousness. She’s bleeding profusely from numerous head wounds and one eye is swollen shut. Therefore, she should…
a) somehow find a way to summon back up
b) only employ the use of non-lethal weapons in her attempt to arrest the suspects (remember, the attackers are not in possession of a gun or knife)
c) shoot to wound
d) fire a warning shot to encourage her attackers to retreat
e) take immediate action and use deadly force to stop the attack
4. Officers must always attempt to use less-lethal weapons before resorting to deadly force. True or False?
5. A sharpened stick could be considered as a lethal weapon. True or False?
6. A combative suspect armed with a broken beer bottle suddenly charges an officer. The police officer may use which of the following as a means/weapon of defense?
a) pepper spray
d) bar stool
e) all of the above
7. Which of the following could be used as a lethal weapon?
b) X-box video game console
c) high-heeled shoe
d) pickle jar
e) a and c
f ) a and d
g) All of the above (each of the items listed have been used as a murder weapon).
8. An automobile could be considered as a deadly weapon? True or False
9. A driver attempts to flee after committing a crime. During his attempt to escape police custody the driver strikes a uniformed police officer with his getaway car. The officer dies at the scene.
a) the driver can be charged with murder
b) the car is a murder weapon
c) all police are pigs and the cop got what he deserved
d) it was an accident, therefore no crime was committed during the escape
e) a and b
f) a, b, and d
10. There are clear and defined laws that all police officers must follow when using deadly force. An officer’s perception and opinions must never be considered before pulling the trigger. True or False
Is it possible for an unarmed teenager to beat an adult male to death using only his bare hands?
Before you answer, I’ll save you the trouble of contemplating all the “what-if’s.” Remember, this is only one instance. There are many, many others.
At the age of 17, Juan Antonio “Johnny” Gonzalez punched Officer Jonathan Molina in the face a couple of times and then grabbed his legs and took Molina to the sidewalk. Gonzales continued the brutal assault on the ground where he punched the officer in the head two or three additional times. The force of the beating was enough to cause a fractured skull, facial fractures, and serious brain injury. Officer Molina died as result of the injuries.
Officer Molina, a large man of over six-foot in height and well over 200 lbs., was a military combat veteran who’d served the police department for four years before his murder. Needless to say, the officer was well-trained in defensive skills and tactics.
Officer Jonathan Molina, 29
Officer Molina’s attacker, Juan Antonio “Johnny” Gonzalez, was 17-years-old at the time he beat Officer Molina to death.
KIVA News reported that Gonzales posted this message to his Facebook page soon after the beating of Molina.
“I hope u (Medrano) didn’t get caught I killed the guy, he went into compulsions and died. Haha JK Weii I seen that shit on the news. Dude turn on the news dude there’s all this crap going on.”
Gonzales as he appeared at the time of Officer Molina’s murder. (Busted ElPaso Facebook photo).
Gonzales during his trail for the murder of Officer Molina.
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Answers To Quiz
*By the way, police officers are NOT taught/trained to kill anyone. They’re taught to stop a threat. Nothing more. Nothing less.
** Please do not “read between the lines.” This is an informational post for those who writing includes police officers and their procedures. This is not an opinion of the events in Ferguson, nor is this blog a forum for race issues, President Obama, politics, cop-haters, etc. Any comments along those lines will be deleted. **