How Many Shots Are Too Many (Legal Question)

How Many Shots Are Too Many (Legal Question)

This is a discussion on How Many Shots Are Too Many (Legal Question) within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have a legal question to pose. I have been debating a topic with people I work with in my unit while sitting around in ...

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Thread: How Many Shots Are Too Many (Legal Question)

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array skysoldier29's Avatar
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    How Many Shots Are Too Many (Legal Question)

    I have a legal question to pose. I have been debating a topic with people I work with in my unit while sitting around in Afghanistan. Question: How many shots is too many?
    In my military training we are taught to neutralize the threat (Which I translated to civilian terms as anything to win a fight) IE, why I have a light a laser attached to my G23 IOT make the BG quit (I hope) before I have to use deadly force.
    My training had taught me to fire two controlled but rapid shots to center mass, reevaluate and continue to engage if there is still a threat of loss of life or injury.
    I was told that in North Carolina where I will be carrying since I’m stationed at Fort Bragg could get me into legal trouble as multiple shots could be over kill. Not that I'm going to dumb 16 rounds of .40 cal into a BG.
    I’m just trying to get peoples input on this possible legal scenario.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array cuban11182's Avatar
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    You shoot till the threat is over, then you stop. Otherwise, it may be considered overkill. This is what I've been taught in the CG, when I received my training in NC for my license, and at Blackwater's Facility in Moyock.

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array kelcarry's Avatar
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    Cuban said it all. The most famous quote/story on such a subject involves an incident where a perp "executed" an LEO and the hunt was on. When finally cornered, the ensuing shootout resulted in I believe 65 bullet holes in the perp. When asked why so many, the officer in charge said "because that was all we had". Bottom line IMO is that if you are in imminent danger of death or bodily injury that requires discharge of your weapon---then discharge your weapon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kelcarry View Post
    Cuban said it all. The most famous quote/story on such a subject involves an incident where a perp "executed" an LEO and the hunt was on. When finally cornered, the ensuing shootout resulted in I believe 65 bullet holes in the perp. When asked why so many, the officer in charge said "because that was all we had". Bottom line IMO is that if you are in imminent danger of death or bodily injury that requires discharge of your weapon---then discharge your weapon.
    ^^^^heres the quote^^^^^^ below

    AND YES, I would concur, about D T Center Mass ,BG down fight over;
    BGstill up??;
    A few more rounds for sure.
    I'm going to take my chances, and eliminate the threat, by whatever means necessary, and hope the DA is sensible in their assesment of the situation.
    What I find rediculous is that people who have never been in a grave situation, and were not PRESENT for yours, can somehow pass judgement on what defines overkill.

    Because that's all the ammunition we had.'
    Polk Co. Fla. Sheriff Grady Judd
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    If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans
    Don't ever think that the reason I'm peaceful is because I don't know how to be violent

    M&Pc .357SIG, 2340Sigpro .357SIG

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array rottkeeper's Avatar
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    If there is forensic evidence that the BG was laying down or incapacitated when the fatal shot was fired you could be in deep do-do.

    During the investigation and autopsy they will determine the angle of the shots fired and the order of shots fired to figure out if charges are warranted.
    For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the son of man be. Mathew 24:27

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  7. #6
    Distinguished Member Array skysoldier29's Avatar
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    Oneshot, Thanks for your response. I just don't want to underestimate the power of stupid people IE lawyers and gun fearing idiots. I know a guy who lost his CCW for getting into a shooting in CA (gun haters). He was a Special Forces guy who shot the guy twice in the chest, the DA said because he was a highly trained to use firearms that he he should have shot him in the shoulder or something, even though the BG had a knife on the guys wife.

  8. #7
    Member Array twocan's Avatar
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    Thank you for your service.

    Sky Soldier:

    Since we do not shoot to kill, only to stop, you will need to frame your minimal remarks made after an incident in this light.

    In CA, MA, NJ, NY and MA, you would likely run into LEOs and ADAs who would react as your example, but in most other states your skills would not automatically make you a murder suspect.

    If you are unsure, it might be helpful to go on line and read the actual NC regulations.

    And again, thank you for your service; you and your squad make it possible for us to have these discussions.

    Capt. Art

  9. #8
    VIP Member Array NC Bullseye's Avatar
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    I'm a NC CHP instructor and teach that you shoot until the threat stops. There's no magic number of rounds. A double tap may not be over doing it at all. If the threat stops with one round or one set of double taps then any more would be excessive. Now if you have to stop and run to Wal Mart for more ammo and then come back to pick up where you left off that may be on the verge of excess but if the threat keeps advancing and or threatening then shoot until the threat ceases to be a threat.

    Do NOT shoot once and holster. Always evaluate the situation before lowering your guard. Good guys have died because they practice one shot and holster in training.

    One thing even more important is to avoid tunnel vision and not look for partners of the bad guy. You wouldn't want to not have enough ammo to share.

  10. #9
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Interesting perspective rottkeeper...

    I've always figured just shoot until the threat is no longer present, so I believe I would be out of trouble easily enough, but I never thought about the forensics if you were to get caught in the heat of a gunfight and kept shooting. Had completely forgotten they can find out what angle every shot was taken from.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  11. #10
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    Well, this is kind of where good marksmanship skills can help out a little.

    I've always been taught to shoot until the the threat is over.

    Using that professional instruction, I'm pretty confident I can articulate that in court if a prosecutor wants to make issue out of how many rounds are received by the attacker. However, at the same time, I do not want to give the appearance that I kept shooting him after he was down and out, unless I can show he still had a weapon in his hands and still making purposeful movements to carry on the fight.

    Also, if I am not already behind cover when the attacker goes to the ground, I'm going to be heading behind cover as soon as he drops.

    There is also some case precedent made in which LEO's engage with what would appear to the untrained to be an excessive amount of bullets yet are cleared in their shooting cases.
    Semper Fi

    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

  12. #11
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    Since the angle of the 'actually stopper' can be determined by the CSI team, then the object of threat stopping would likely be...empty your mag prior to the the dirtbag home invader hitting the tile...threat over, thud!

    Actually, I don't believe there can be a certain 'number of shots' allowed or not allowed to stop a threat, just whatever it takes.
    Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

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  13. #12
    Senior Member Array jualdeaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bark'n View Post
    There is also some case precedent made in which LEO's engage with what would appear to the untrained to be an excessive amount of bullets yet are cleared in their shooting cases.
    yeah but we all know that in certain areas there is a prevailing belief that LEOs are in a class on their own. We civies are held to a different standard.
    Bend the knees, smooth is fast, watch the front sight.

  14. #13
    Member Array DIXIETWISTER's Avatar
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    Dont empty that third mag. also if threat is down 2 to the head will probably take some explaining..
    You may not like guns. You may choose not to own one. That is your right.
    You might not believe in God. That is your choice.
    However, if someone breaks into your home at 3AM the first two things you are going to do are:
    1) Call someone with a gun.
    2)Pray they get there in time." - A wise man

  15. #14
    Member Array Pinger's Avatar
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    How about this twist? I have a friend who has a 22-caliber semi-automatic rifle. He can put a dozen bullets in a target in no time. That could be what you need, as far as I know, to neutralize the BG with a 22-caliber weapon. Would the BG's relatives or some bleeding-heart lawyer argue that that's overkill? I bet they would, and maybe win a settlement in court. Given that scenario, how much would be considered necessary per caliber and load? How much would be overkill, according to the bleeding-heart lawyers? We could split hairs on this one for a long time.
    The first rule of self-defense is to avoid the situation. The second rule is Train and Prepare.

  16. #15
    New Member Array Argus21's Avatar
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    "Excessive" shots and falling assailants

    Recent research seems to indicate that shooters under the stress of a life and death encounter are unable to immediately stop shooting once they recognize that the threat is incapacitated.

    From Force Science Research Center:

    "Excessive" shots and falling assailants: A fresh look at OIS subtleties

    A new look at why officers often fire controversial "extra" shots after a threat has ended has been published by an independent shooting reconstructionist and certified Force Science analyst.

    Researcher Alexander Jason reports that even under benign experimental conditions brain programming compels roughly 7 out of 10 officers to keep discharging rounds after being signaled to stop shooting. "In a real gunfight, under extraordinary stress and threat of death, an even much higher percentage would likely deliver extra shots," Jason asserts.

    On average, additional findings show, officers may "reasonably" fire 6 rounds or more into suspects who initially are standing and then begin falling and who, in fact, may already be mortally wounded. And that's 6 rounds per officer involved in the confrontation.

    "Understanding why this occurs can be critical in shooting investigations and in criminal proceedings and civil lawsuits that allege excessive force by officers for firing 'too many' shots," says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute. "As Jason explains, so-called 'extra' shots are generally beyond an officer's control. They're more likely to be an involuntary reaction under stress than a conscious decision with malicious motivation."

    About 7 years ago, Lewinski performed widely cited experiments in Tempe, AZ, that documented the tendency of officers to "over-shoot," that is to discharge 1 or more additional rounds after perceiving a stop stimulus during rapid-fire discharges. (Click here to read about the study.)

    Jason's work, conducted in California, essentially confirms some of the Tempe factors and adds important new elements. His full report appears in the current issue of Investigative Sciences Journal, a peer-reviewed professional quarterly, and can be downloaded free of charge in pdf format at Investigative Sciences Journal. Click on the paper, "Shooting Dynamics: Elements of Time & Movement in Shooting Incidents."


    A crime scene analyst specializing in shooting analysis and reconstruction, Jason heads the Anite Group in Pinole, CA, and has been involved in a number of high-profile cases, including New York City's Sean Bell incident in which a prospective bridegroom was killed shortly before his wedding in a fusillade of 50 rounds fired by undercover and plainclothes officers.

    Jason, formerly with the San Francisco PD, told Force Science News that he has sporadically conducted research tests related to officers and shooting dynamics across a number of years, but decided to compile and publish a summary of results only after graduating last year from a certification course in Force Science Analysis. He included his latest experiment, performed just a few months ago, on how long it takes a human body to fall from a standing position. This is a subject that the Force Science Research Center is also investigating.

    Time to Stop

    The core of Jason's paper is his research on how long it takes an officer in rapid-fire mode to stop shooting once he perceives that he should do so.

    The test subjects were 32 officers (30 of them male), ranging in age from 23 to 56, with the median age 33. They averaged nearly 11 years' service, but ranged in experience from less than a year to more than 2 decades.

    Using the semiautomatic pistols and leather gear they normally wear on duty, they one at a time faced a "hostile man" target at a distance of 5 ft. Hands at their side, they were told to draw and "start shooting at the buzzer. Shoot as fast as you can," and stop shooting when 2 100-watt spotlights pointed at them flash on. An electronic shot-timer provided the start signal and the "stop" lights came on at random intervals, after a minimum of 4 intended shots.

    "Most of the officers were unable to immediately stop shooting at the stop signal," Jason reports. Indeed, 69% fired at least 1 "extra" shot, with 17% firing 2 extra and 8% firing 3. Fewer than 1/3 were able to stop fast enough to prevent discharging surplus rounds.

    Although the shooters "reacted as quickly as they could," Jason writes, most continued to pull the trigger past the stop signal "because the brain-to-trigger finger impulse was still 'in motion.' " In other words, they could not perceive the light signal, transmit that perception to the brain, have the brain interpret it, and send back a "stop" command before the trigger finger was already proceeding with subsequent shots based on the mental program that had been put in action by the start buzzer.

    Benchmark findings by other researchers, cited by Jason, suggest that as a rule of thumb the brain may need about 3/10 of a second to evaluate an incoming stimulus, and then at least 16/100 of a second minimum to "inhibit (cancel) an anticipated action (like firing the next shot)."

    Such reaction times, of course, vary among individuals. And if an officer does not instantly see a stop signal because his visual attention is narrowed and intensely concentrated on his sights and/or the target, the delay in responding can be much longer, Jason explains.

    Extra Shots on the Street

    Jason writes: "It is important to compare and note the different effects on performance between the conditions facing a shooter in [the] safe and relatively stress-free [experiment] with an urgent, life-threatening and highly stress-inducing situation [of] a real-life shooting incident.

    "The shooters in the test only had one, clearly defined stimulus to stop firing.... A shooter in a genuine shooting incident will [experience] both a higher level of physiological arousal (stress) and additional choices (Should I take cover? Is the target person no longer a threat? Should I look around for other threats? Are there others who may be exposed to my gunfire?, etc.).

    "Human performance research has determined that as the number of choice alternatives increases, reaction time (including perception, decision, and action) will increase. The elevated arousal and multiple-alternatives effect will likely cause the shooter to fire additional 'extra' shots--more than [were] measured in this test study."

    Lewinski found in the Tempe study that the more motivated a shooter was to shoot, the longer it took before he was able to stop shooting. "And an officer firing to save his life is about as 'motivated' as a human being can be," Lewinski says. "Once the human dynamics of ceasing shooting under stress are understood, the less sinister the connotation of 'extra' shots generally will seem."

    Time to Fall

    In his most recent study, Jason measured the amount of time required for a person to fall to the ground from a standing position and explored the implications of shots fired by officers at the falling figure, whether those shots are deliberate or involuntary because of reaction time.

    During a confrontation with a standing armed offender, "the most commonly understood and accepted indication that the [suspect] is no longer a threat is when that person either releases the gun from his hand(s) and/or drops to the ground" from being shot, Jason states.

    He asked 5 volunteers (4 males, 1 female) to stand "erect with hands out in front, as if holding a gun" and, upon verbal command, to drop to a padded mat "as quickly as possible." This, he concedes, was an imperfect attempt to mimic a rapid collapse ("dropping like a sack of potatoes") such as would occur from "a significant disruption of the central nervous system or sudden loss of consciousness." Genuine collapses from such causes, of course, cannot be tested in an experimental environment.

    Thirty-five drops were recorded with a digital video camera and later analyzed on a computer. Timing began "at the first detectable motion initiating the movement of the body" toward the ground and ended when the upper torso was on the mat and "horizontal to the ground."

    On average, the subjects took 1.1 seconds to fall down. During this amount of time, Lewinski's research has shown that "4 shots could be fired by an 'average' police officer," Jason writes. "A crumple fall [going to the knees first, then down] will take more time and could result in several more shots fired during the movement. Additional shots could also be fired until the shooter perceives that the person is no longer a threat and is able to interrupt his shooting sequence."

    In all, Jason writes, "the total number of [rapid-sequence] shots fired at a person standing then going to the ground could reasonably be a minimum of 6 shots: 1 or more before the [suspect] begins to fall; 4 shots during the fall; 1 or more as the body contacts the floor" during the time required for the brain to recognize and process that the threat has ceased.

    "In situations with more than one shooter firing, the total number of reasonable shots could be 6 x Number of Shooters; i.e., if 3 officers were firing simultaneously, then 18 shots (6 x 3) would be expected....etc."

    Depending on a suspect's positioning through the fall, at least some of these shots may end up entering through his back, Jason points out, deepening the illusion that the shooting was an unjustified "execution." In his paper, he includes graphics showing how "posterior entries" can innocently occur under these circumstances.

    Further Considerations

    Apart from the reaction-time phenomenon, a falling assailant may invite continued gunfire because a collapse or crumple can be an ambiguous movement. Falling from incapacitating wounds cannot always be "distinguished from a deliberate tactical maneuver of someone who has decided to go to ground to avoid being shot or to assume a less exposed position while returning or preparing to return gunfire," Jason writes. "Even a mortally wounded person can fall to the ground and fire one or more shots before becoming incapacitated and/or unconscious."

    Moreover, because of the nature of bullet wounds an officer may not know whether his rounds are hitting his assailant--another motivation to keep shooting. Jason explains:

    "There is no significant momentum or 'push' from a bullet strike. This means that there would be no significant...motion effect of a bullet striking a standing or falling person.... Also...unlike the shootings seen in dramatic films and TV shows, it is most often not possible to visually determine if a shot has actually struck a target person. Bullet entry holes do not project large amounts of blood and the defect in the skin--always smaller than the bullet diameter--may not be visible at all if the shot was fired through clothing, particularly loose or layered clothing."

    In short, Jason concludes, police shootings can be complex occurrences. For persons untrained in forensics and the science of human behavior to jump to conclusions in judging an officer's actions can lead to grave misinterpretations and injustices.

    "Jason is to be congratulated on his work," Lewinski says. "More research is starting to be focused on street-level law enforcement issues, and with every effort our understanding of the dynamic interplay between officers and their assailants becomes that much clearer."
    Sorry for the long post. This appeared on a local board I'm a member of and there was no link. It seems to tie in well with the current discussion.

    And thank for your service skysoldier29
    Cogito, ergo armatum sum. I think, therefore I am armed.

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