Should LE be allowed to shoot fleeing suspects?

This is a discussion on Should LE be allowed to shoot fleeing suspects? within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have to ask this even though it is controversial. Here is why I think they should be allowed to: 1. How many times have ...

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Thread: Should LE be allowed to shoot fleeing suspects?

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    Member Array american23's Avatar
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    Question Should LE be allowed to shoot fleeing suspects?

    I have to ask this even though it is controversial. Here is why I think they should be allowed to:

    1. How many times have you seen a dashcam video where a suspect flees a few feet, then stops, pulls out a pistol, turns around and starts taking shots at the police officers in pursuit?

    2. Isn't a suspect who's fleeing a threat to not just police officers, but society in general?

    3. Let's say a suspect flees into someone's house and it becomes a hostage standoff...isn't that something that can turn out really badly, very quickly?


    What are your guy's/gal's thoughts on this issue?

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    Member Array niks's Avatar
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    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Too many variables in every situation.
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    Distinguished Member Array BadgerJ's Avatar
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    It's actually 'shoot at' a fleeing suspect. IMO, no. Uncertain backstop, low probability of hitting him. Seek cover, call in backup. (I assume you mean on foot.)
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    Member Array american23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadgerJ View Post
    It's actually 'shoot at' a fleeing suspect. IMO, no. Uncertain backstop, low probability of hitting him. Seek cover, call in backup. (I assume you mean on foot.)
    Yeah, on foot...though I guess it would also apply to a suspect fleeing in a car while the officer is on foot as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by american23 View Post
    I have to ask this even though it is controversial. Here is why I think they should be allowed to:

    1. How many times have you seen a dashcam video where a suspect flees a few feet, then stops, pulls out a pistol, turns around and starts taking shots at the police officers in pursuit?

    2. Isn't a suspect who's fleeing a threat to not just police officers, but society in general?

    3. Let's say a suspect flees into someone's house and it becomes a hostage standoff...isn't that something that can turn out really badly, very quickly?


    What are your guy's/gal's thoughts on this issue?


    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?? shooting a running person in the back? not just no, HELL NO!! unless its an armed situation and the police have SEEN A WEAPON. i.e. a bank robbery.

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    VIP Member Array Ghost1958's Avatar
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    Depends on what the suspect did that got LE after him in the first place. Some things definitely yes. Some things depending on if hes just running and displaying no threat no.

    Ive been on both sides of the tin. I personally dont believe a citizen should be any more restricted than an LEO as to when they can draw and/or fire. Or vice versa. A threat to one is as much a threat to the other. YMMV
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    There are times it's legally justified and times that it's not.
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    As noted above, if a suspect is a clear danger to those around him then whatever means necessary should be used to protect innocents. However, police are not judge and jury. The moment we allow them to shoot just anyone fleeing, we end up a much larger imposition on personal freedoms and the potential for severe to catastrophic abuse.

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    Member Array american23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickyD View Post
    As noted above, if a suspect is a clear danger to those around him then whatever means necessary should be used to protect innocents. However, police are not judge and jury. The moment we allow them to shoot just anyone fleeing, we end up a much larger imposition on personal freedoms and the potential for severe to catastrophic abuse.
    Yeah, but isn't a suspect a danger to everybody if he's running away? Furthermore, how will a police officer know if someone is dangerous if they only pull them over for say...a speeding ticket?

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    Quote Originally Posted by american23 View Post
    Yeah, but isn't a suspect a danger to everybody if he's running away? Furthermore, how will a police officer know if someone is dangerous if they only pull them over for say...a speeding ticket?
    No, not even close. People run from police all of the time and for various reasons. I don't think it is right, but I also do not believe that every one of them is a danger to society. Think about how many kids run because they don't want mommy and daddy to find out they were buying booze or drugs. To allow police to shoot at anyone who runs is a recipe for disaster and abuse.

    No one should have the right to decide if another person lives or dies without a trial UNLESS the suspect is a true danger.

    As for the speeding ticket, you are innocent until proven guilty in this country. How can anyone justify shooting a person who flees the scene of a speeding ticket? Unless the suspect is shooting his/her way out of scene I can see no rational for shooting them.

    I am not willing to live in a police state where an appointed official can take my life on the flimsy supposition that I "tried to run".
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    Depends on many different variables, but generally, no, I don't. I keep thinking of the shooting in NYC with two uniforms responding to the Empire State building shooting two years ago:

    "From about eight feet away, the officers confronted Mr. Johnson and when he pulled out his gun, they opened fire, shooting a total of 16 rounds. Mr. Johnson was killed and nine bystanders were wounded, perhaps all by police bullets."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/ny...anted=all&_r=0

    If they represent the shooting skills of even a small percentage of LEO, I'm not sure I want to give all of them carte blanche to shoot away, fleeing felon or not.
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    Depends.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by american23 View Post
    Should LE be allowed to shoot fleeing suspects?
    IMO, all citizens should be lawfully authorized to do so, if they've witnessed a violent crime in progress and there's little to no way to keep the felon(s) from escaping but to stop them there.

    Of course, none of this applies to misdemeanors or even garden-variety felonies, I'd think. It's for the heinous stuff ... armed robberies, murder, rape, kidnapping. You witness one of those things, then see the perpetrator high-tailing it, I'd say it's hard to argue it's in people's best interests to have such a person continuing to roam the streets without justice coming to call. And if that takes stopping the person now, to face the music in a court, I have little problem with that.
    Last edited by ccw9mm; June 4th, 2014 at 05:53 PM. Reason: spelling, grammar
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    Senior Member Array patri0t's Avatar
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    This is the USSC "Garner v Tennessee" case law.
    The supreme court decided a subject's mere action of 'fleeing' did NOT justify another civilian's right to use deadly force against the fleeing subject.

    I use the word "Civilian" as many folks do not realize LEOs are "civilians", too. Also, the law applies to any armed person.

    The 'Exigent Circumstances' exception Does apply if the runner is an immediate and imminent danger to the lives of innocents if allowed to continue fleeing.
    However, that is very thin ice (person flees toward a crowd with a pipe-bomb in each hand). Shooting someone in the back is usually a career-ender &/or prison time... so much depends on credible witnesses.
    Any civilian may make a felony arrest, so the "fleeing-felon law applies to everyone".

    Another exception is a sentenced, convicted felon (5th amend due process)... if one attempts to escape a 'secure' prison, a guard may shoot them in the back and off the fence (known as assumed exigent circumstance). Garner was actually shot in the back while climbing a fence... not a 'threat' due to his grip on the fence being a factor.
    If you see a Judge or other 'elected official' killed and the perp fleeing, you are 'probably' okay to shoot the fleeing perp in the back.

    Prior to the "Garner Case", the saying, "Never run from a fat cop" was good advice.
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