City still investigating 137 shots fire that killed two
By JAMES W. WADE III
Deadly force, as defined by the United States Armed Forces, is the force which a person uses, causing or that a person knows, or should know, would create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm. In most jurisdictions, the use of deadly force is justified only under conditions of extreme necessity as a last resort, when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed.
Firearms, bladed weapons, explosives, and vehicles are among those weapons the use of which is considered deadly force. The use of non-weapons in an aggressive manner, such as a baseball bat or tire iron, may also be considered deadly force.
Use of deadly force is often granted to police forces when the person or persons in question are believed to be an immediate danger to people around them. For example, an armed man in a shopping mall shooting at civilians without regard for the safety of anyone around him, and refusing or being unwilling to negotiate, would warrant usage of deadly force as a means to prevent further danger to the community.
In the recent incident with 137 shots fired to stop it is still unclear why police had to fire that many times, without anyone shooting back. Was the deadly force really necessary? The Black community wants answers to why the police use this deadly force method.
The use of deadly force is also authorized when a person poses a significant threat to a law enforcement officer, usually when the officer is at risk of serious bodily injury or death. In the United States, this is governed by Tennessee v. Garner, which said that “deadly force... may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
This case established the Fleeing Felon rule exception to the use of deadly force. Under this exception, if a police officer establishes probable cause that an individual escaping poses a serious threat of death or significant harm to the officer or others, the officer can use deadly force. In Australia, it has recently been proposed that police officers should have this power when a person might in the future pose a threat to others (see Australian Anti-Terrorism Act 2005).
Most police agencies establish a use of force continuum and list deadly force as a force of last resort. With this model, agencies try to control excessive use of force.
In general, all armed bodies – be it the police or military or some offshoot thereof – have the ability to issue authorization for the usage of such force.
In the United States, a civilian may legally use deadly force when it is considered justifiable homicide, that is to say when the civilian feels that their own life, the lives of their family, or those around them are in legitimate and imminent danger. However, self-defense resulting in usage of deadly force by a civilian or civilians against an individual or individuals is often subject to examination by a court if it is unclear whether it was necessary at the point of the offense and whether any further action on the part of the law needs to be taken.
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Mayor Frank Jackson wants answers