Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Police Shoot Man Over 40 Times

  1. Sep 27, 2012 #1
    Police shoot 46 times an agitated man with a knife standing 20 feet from them. Sounds rather excessive and like vendetta to me. What do you think?





    I have only seen similar cases in Brazil, is there something we are missing?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2012 #2

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    What makes you think it is a vendetta rather than an example of poor judgement and poor training? This event took place a few months ago on July 1st. The result has been one officer demoted and two disciplined. From what I just read of the story (can't watch the video at the moment, no sound on my computer) the man who they shot was a mentally ill homeless man with a knife. Leaving aside for a moment whether or not shooting him was necessary it's staggering how many bullets they fired and how little hit
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/mich-police-supervisor-demoted-2-officers-disciplined-after-homeless-mans-shooting-death/2012/09/21/bb33bc1c-0405-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Sep 27, 2012 #3

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Have you ever fired a handgun? That's their dirty little secret.
     
  5. Sep 27, 2012 #4

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No only airguns. I do appreciate that accuracy is not like it is in the movies and in many situations it's extremely difficult to hit the target*. However this situation seems not to be one and even so I would hope that police offices are A) trained to be very good shots to avoid endangering bystanders and B) trained not to shoot of the chances of missing are so high and there is no immediate danger.

    *This is what often annoys me about statements along the lines of "if someone in that movie theatre/lecture hall/walmart had had a gun they could have shot that crazed gunman!" In crowded places with lots of panic, confusion, fear and noise having adrenaline pumped members of the public firing weapons really doesn't seem like a good idea.
     
  6. Sep 27, 2012 #5


    It seems like a vendetta, not that it is one. From the video it doesn't seem like there was an immediate danger to any of the 6 officers who were holding loaded guns and the homeless man a knife.

    Just watching the video and what unfolds it's hard to say who is deranged and who is not(and if there is one who is not).

    BTW, I think jail time is more appropriate in such cases than additional training.
     
  7. Sep 27, 2012 #6

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We seem to be using the term differently. A vendetta to me is a prolonged state of hostility towards a party with frequent attacks and counter attacks.
    Interesting that this statement reads from mine something I did not say. I did not say that the appropriate response towards those officers was more training but that problems like this come about from poor judgement and poor training.
     
  8. Sep 27, 2012 #7
    It does seem somewhat like a revenge(vendetta), the murder seems totally uncalled for.

    My comment about the additional training was in response to your comment that one of the officers had been demoted and 2 others disciplined. Both the officers and the judge seem to entice such behavior if that is their best response to the murder. The least they could do was aim at the legs, but 46 shots in cold blood? How do these people sleep at night?
     
  9. Sep 27, 2012 #8
    I doubt it was a vendetta killing, but if you think cops value every life the same think again. They see the absolute worst that humanity has to offer day in and day out and it definitely gets to them. Among other problems they have a high suicide rate, high divorce rate, and high crime rate. Such things just go with the territory and is one reason for the old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
     
  10. Sep 27, 2012 #9

    f95toli

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Note that police officers are generally trained to fire multiple shoots, and this is for several reasons: firstly, because many bullets will miss, secondly because even an injured person can hurt you. especially if the person is on drugs which counteract the shock effect of being shot), e.g. crack-cocaine.

    46 does sound like a loot, but unless I am misstaken a "by the book" shooting by six officers should results in something like 20 shots being fired (at least 2-4 per officer).

    Also, normal police officers are rarely "highly trained" when it comes to handling firearms. Here in the UK there are specialist firearm-teams (since regular PCs are unarmed), but many of the incidents they are involved in are still very controversial, often because people have unrealistic expectaions due to having watched too many movies.
     
  11. Sep 27, 2012 #10
    A trained law enforcement officer fires an average of 3.5 rounds for every one that hits. Once they start firing, they continue to shoot until the gun is empty. That is what I was told when I took a firearms class taught by the police department. That is consistent with their training, at least according to this class.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  12. Sep 27, 2012 #11
    Why would you be trained to fire until the gun is empty? That makes no sense. If you fire twice and the suspect is on the ground not moving, why would you fire 10+ more shots?
     
  13. Sep 27, 2012 #12
    At the time when I was taking that class, I was also working with a group of Navy SEALs so I put that question to them. They said that was good training policy, and in many cases that is the best action to take. More highly trained soldiers know when to conserve ammo and when not, but most armies and police forces are trained that if they have to fire the weapon, then they need to put a lot of lead in the air. Most people are not able to stop shooting under the pressure of the situation anyway. If you ask them immediately afterwards how many rounds they fired they will say 3 or 4, but the gun is empty.

    That sent me out to research the psychology and tactical theory behind that, and found that training has always been this way since the days of the flintlock. Most people have such a deep subconscious aversion to killing anyone that it makes accurate aiming impossible in situations that require immediate action. Even people who do very well in training simulations will often miss when it is for real. When it is all done you might have a thousand shots fired by many people, nobody aiming accurately, ten hits and nobody knows for sure who made the kill shot. It is extremely rare to find someone who can be a sniper that makes one shot and one kill, even the ones who can put all the rounds in the bulls eye of a paper target at a thousand yards cannot take accurate aim and kill a person.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  14. Sep 27, 2012 #13

    f95toli

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It doesn't take many seconds to completely empty a gun, the gun will in general be empty LONG before the suspect is on the ground.
    Also, again, remember that most of the bullets will probably miss.
     
  15. Sep 27, 2012 #14

    Integral

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    While I appreciate doing things by the books, do they not bother teaching the police to think?

    Locally we had a incident over Labor Day weekend. The bad guy broke into the local pawn shop at 4:30am and set off the alarm, the cops arrived shortly and heard a shot. Open book, turn off mind. At 7:30am I was walking my dog in a (not to) nearby park and heard a megaphone, which suddenly became clear. "PUT YOUR HANDS UP! You are not listening! Put your hands up" This phrase was repeated several times that I heard.

    What was happening? That single shot was the bad guy attempting suicide by blowing his face off with a shotgun loaded with bird shot. By 5:00am the guy was blind and totally helpless. They fired multiple canisters of tear gas, totally destroying most of the inventory of the store before finally sending in a robot to determine the bad guy was not going to harm them.

    I am surprised the bad guy didn't succeed in dying while the cops stood around out side yelling at him to come out. Not clear to me why this could not have been resolved in a few minutes but then I evidently do not read the same books as the cops.

    This BTW was my step sons place of employment.
     
  16. Sep 27, 2012 #15
    I've seen a police instructor empty 18 rounds in less than two seconds. That was with a timer and not a guess.
     
  17. Sep 27, 2012 #16

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    One thing that's not mentioned also is the standard issue guns used by the NY police are fitted with 12 lbf triggers, which is a very high trigger pull if you're not familiar. Supposedly this helps prevent accidental firing (dubious IMO) but more importantly has a seriously detrimental effect on shot placement. Many policemen have to resort to poor firing form including having to use both index fingers to pull the trigger.

    For reference, a "standard" trigger pull on a Glock for example is about 5.5 lbf, and sig-sauers with heavy trigger pulls are about 7 lbf. Target pistols are reduced to around the 3 lbf range (because a lighter trigger means its easier to stay on target when you pull). I don't know how you're supposed to stay on target with a 12 lbf trigger!
     
  18. Sep 27, 2012 #17
    A local deputy told me that they all make personal adjustments to their own gun, and they have a choice to carry what was issued or to provide their own. I guess things are different down here in the south.
     
  19. Sep 27, 2012 #18

    Hurkyl

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It was not a sporting event. It was not a gentlemanly duel. There was no relevant notion of "sportsmanship" involved.

    It was a fight to kill one person before he could kill another.

    There is no practical difference between killing him with 40 bullets and killing him with 400 bullets: either way, the guy ends up dead. If you're going to kill someone to protect yourself and others, it's stupid to use half-hearted measures: all that accomplishes is to make it all the more likely that two people will wind up dead that day.
     
  20. Sep 27, 2012 #19

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  21. Sep 27, 2012 #20

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Your use of inappropriate words like "murder" and "vendetta" is not helpful here. The word "vendetta", I don't think you actually know what it means, while "murder" is you asserting as a fact that the killing was done purposely illegally, which is, at best, far from proven. Statements like these have a tendency to short-circuit reasonable discussion and should be avoided.
    Police officers are not allowed to shoot at the legs. The reason is simple: Shooting someone may kill them, so police must assume it will and shoot only with the intent to kill and only in a situation that warrants it. Use of guns has to be treated in such a black and white way, because what you suggest would both increase the use of guns and increase the risk of injury for the police.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Police Shoot Man Over 40 Times
Loading...