As I was driving down Ramsey Street (Fayetteville, NC), yesterday my mind flashed back to an incident that happened several years ago where I could have legally shot an armed subject (hammer) but didn’t. That thought made me flashback to a previous incident where I could have legally shot another armed subject (ax) but didn’t.
In retrospect, in each situation, I gave the subject more time than I probably should have and put myself in a precarious situation. With the grace of God, both these situations ended without injury to me or to the armed subjects.
I write this to say that in 25 years as a police officer, I shot one person. In that situation, I was acting as an undercover drug detective and was attempting to purchase an ounce of cocaine. Instead of going through with the deal, the subject pointed a gun at my head and told me to give him the $1,000.00 I had to purchase the cocaine. Ultimately, the subject was captured in Chicago and sentenced to 7 years for Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon (RWDW). Just before his release on the RWDW charge, he was tried for a murder that occurred in Ft. Bragg, NC. He was found guilty and sentenced to life without the chance for release.
I justifiably shot one person and could have justifiably shot 2 other subjects. In all 3 cases, the subjects were black males. I know thousands of officers throughout the nation have experienced a situation where they could have justifiably shot a subject, but for whatever reason chose not to.
Instead of just tracking the number of subjects that are shot by police, what if we started to track the number of subjects that were not shot, but could have been, legally? I guarantee that the number of subjects that could have been shot but were not is much larger than the number of subjects who were shot. Finally, what if we started to track the number of cases where officers could have legally used force, but opted not to?
Can you envision a world where “the media” broadcasts an incident where the officer chose not to shoot?