Why Cops Fire So Many Shots

A friend of mine asked me the following honest questions: “Why does it take 9 to 18 shots into a person to ‘put them down’?  And sometimes in the back when showing no resistance?”

This was the answer I gave him.  Cops are taught to shoot until the threat has ended.  If a suspect still is holding a gun, he or she is still a threat.  In the old days, all of the cops, and most of the suspects had revolvers, the vast majority of which held only six bullets.  Nowadays, most cops and suspects have semiautomatic pistols which usually hold anywhere from 8 to 16 rounds or more, so more rounds will be fired until the threat is neutralized.  Also, most people labor under the false impression, shown in movies and TV shows, that when a person is shot once, he will fly backwards and go down, severely wounded or dead.

This is not at all like reality.  A person who is mortally shot, (unless the bullet severs the spine or scrambles the brain), can still run, fire a gun, or stab you with a knife for up to 20 seconds before the blood stops running through the brain and he drops dead.  As another retired cop buddy told me, “when the shooting starts, you have no idea if your partner is shooting, or what everyone else is doing. You have nanoseconds to react and it is your muscle memory taking over.”

As far as shooting a suspect in the back, circumstances would dictate whether or not it was a righteous shooting.  Take the Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting as an example.  The officers had already tried to use non-lethal tasers on him to no effect. The suspect, Jacob Blake, had already resisted arrest and fought the officers.  The suspect had a warrant and a restraining order not to be at that location.  He had a record of violating firearms possession laws.  He had, or at least the officers believed he had, a knife as he had been told to drop the knife. He was ordered not to get into the SUV and yet he opened the door and reached in anyway.  When he reached into the vehicle door, any reasonable and prudent person, let alone an experienced law enforcement officer, would assume he had a weapon and the officer would shoot to prevent him from retrieving it.

There is a video from the body cam of an officer who was executed by a suspect in a similar situation.  He had ordered the suspect not to reach into his opened jeep driver’s door.  The suspect turned his back on the officer and reached in anyway The officer did not fire his weapon.  The suspect brought out a rifle and a gun battle ensued with the suspect ultimately shooting the officer multiple times and then executing him while the officer is begging for his life.  It was all caught on the officer’s body cam.  If the officer had shot the suspect in the back, when he reached into the jeep, he would be alive today.

My friend’s questions were honest queries, because there are two sides to every story and the public is only being told one. The public is, therefore, forced to come to conclusions founded on biased media accounts, and presumptions acquired from Hollywood movies and television cop shows. The tragedy today, is that too many cops are forced into the age old quandary of having to decide whether to be tried by twelve citizens or having their coffin carried by six. The unfortunate reality is, that with the slanted media enforced ignorance of the public, too many officers’ hesitation in life or death situations, causes their injury or death.


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2 thoughts on “Why Cops Fire So Many Shots”

  1. Buz Williams piece about why police shoot and the number of shots they take is the best explanation I have seen. It should accompany every report of every police involved shooting, especially those that end in a death.

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