Shoot, Don’t Shoot: Understanding when and why police officers shoot

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 9:55 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2022 at 11:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Split-second decisions that could mean life or death.

Only 27% of cops have fired their weapons in the line of duty, according to Pew Research.

It’s often the last resort, but sometimes in the face of danger, officers have to open fire.

During what could only be described as “real-life scenarios”, the FBI-Little Rock office put some of the Region 8 News team through a series of mock simulations to show the life of a police officer.

Each situation tested the team’s decision-making skills and ability to respond.

Chris Carter was up first. His first “traffic stop” involved two people in a car.

At one point, the passenger got out and Chris drew his weapon.

Clearly startled by his approach, Chris did not shoot the passenger, which was good news for him, as the passenger was only holding a cell phone.

An agent with the FBI Little Rock office said if Chris had shot the man, it would have been justified.

According to their policy, Chris would only need to convey that he felt his life or someone else’s was in danger.

However, what Chris didn’t see was that after the driver exited the car, he had a gun in his hand.

“You were paying more attention to him with the cell phone than you were me,” the driver said.

Fearing for his life, an agent said Chris could have been shot at any time.

Instead, he waited until the driver pulled his gun out first.

“You only survived it because we were being nice,” an agent remarked.

The FBI Little Rock agents who trained those with Region 8 News said waiting to shoot someone considered a threat is never a good idea, as you may not have time to react.

“If I want to before you can shoot me, I can raise a gun up and shoot you because you have to see what I am doing, process that, and then tell yourself to shoot,” an agent said.

It’s something that Meteorologist Aaron Castleberry experienced firsthand.

After “pulling” a car over, Aaron learned the driver had a concealed carry.

The driver was quick to make that clear when he exited the car before Aaron could even get to him.

The driver eventually pulled the gun from his waistband.

It was a situation that did not end well for either party.

The driver shot Aaron through his legs, which caused Aaron to return fire.

During their review, the FBI Little Rock office said the moment Aaron saw the gun, he could have fired his own gun.

“If it is a bad guy, he is probably not going to give you a bunch of clues that he is going to kill you,” the agent responded. “He may actually act nice.”

The stressful situations played out for more than an hour, and each one was a test of the team’s knowledge.

Those with Region 8 News said the biggest takeaway was that officers have to act quickly.

While the team only had a gun to respond with, those protecting our communities have other options, making things more difficult.

“The more tools you have, the more trickier it becomes. You got a lot more to think about. You have rules you have to think about,” an agent said. “Before you Tase them, you have to tell them you are going to tell them.”

“Are tasers 100%? Is pepper spray 100%? So there are all of these things, right,” another agent remarked.

When faced with a life or death situation, none of us will know how to react.

That’s why law enforcement wants you to see these scenarios play out, so we can understand what officers go through and not be so quick to judge.

Copyright 2022 KAIT. All rights reserved.