Letter Re: Shoot or Don’t Shoot–Moral Implications of the Split-Second Decision to Take a Life

I’ve gotta chime in here. Jeff R.’s submission is great but I think he overlooked one very important point. He said:

“If you are involved in a shooting and it appears there may be an official inquiry, forget flashy, emotional phrases that uninformed people throw around, such as “shoot-to-kill,” “shoot-to-wound,” or “shoot-to” anything. Facts, not flash, will win the day. You didn’t shoot to do anything other than to stop the action and end the danger to yourself and your family. The old shoot-to-kill question is a trap that has been used on police officers in court; “if you shot to kill, why could you not shoot-to-wound?” Anybody familiar with defense shooting knows that close quarters shootings involve little more than shoving the gun at the target and firing. Likewise, nobody involved in a shooting has the luxury of time to ponder nonsense questions like the above.”

I would submit that not only should you “forget flashy, emotional phrases” – you should say nothing.. Anything other than “Officer, my life was in jeopardy, I would like to speak to an attorney now.” is a perilous mistake. Even if you are totally justified, completely innocent of wrongdoing., say nothing. Not even innocent-seeming justifications or alibis. Nothing. “I would like to speak to an attorney now”. Anything else and you are in serious peril.

I am not an attorney. Here you can see a law professor explain why.

As a side note: There is a video commonly shown to police academy students that depicts a real situation where a man armed with a knife attacked an armed police officer from across a room (10-to-15 feet). I have heard that merely viewing that video (and communicating the fact of said viewing) to a prosecutor can result in the dismissal of charges related to shooting a person who is threatening you with a knife. (While you’re armed with a gun). YMMV. Research carefully. – Matt R.