Officer-involved shootings: What’s a justifiable use of force?

Updated: Jun. 18, 2020 at 11:11 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On any given day, around 800 thousand police officers are working the streets of this country.

“Of those 800,000, police shoot and kill on average about 1,000 people a year,” said Byram Police Chief Luke Thompson, who is the current president of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police. “Three-hundred-and-seventy-five million contacts with police officers, and 1,000 of those are deadly.”

The question often arises: How do investigators and prosecutors determine whether a police shooting is justified?

Michael Cory and Francis Springer have both represented and brought cases against police officers in use of force cases. They say there’s one intangible factor that outweighs a lot of others.

“What did that officer perceive at the time, was his reaction objectively unreasonable at that split second that that officer had to make the decision to use deadly force or not,” said Cory.

It's becoming more important that investigations be extremely thorough in today's climate.

“Because this is a public official that is carrying a gun and has the authority of the law to take your life if necessary, so there’s got to be an intense investigation,” Springer said. “I believe every officer expects that.”

Both attorneys and police say the majority of police officers get through their entire career without shooting anyone. Thompson says most lawmen never even come close, just like a lot of lawmakers.

“A lot of our elected officials that are trying to come up with these different guidelines have never been in a situation where they’ve had to fight a bad guy for their life,” he said.

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