Watch the video, including the scenarios. And then be honest with yourself: are you able to make the right decisions, not shoot an innocent, and not get shot yourself ?
Like many people, the idea that police will shoot unarmed civilians infuriates me. Let me set the record straight - it shouldn't happen, but it will continue to do so. Civilians will continue to be non-compliant in tense situations, which cops are trained to conclude is the act of a hostile person, and therefore act in a manner to preserve their own lives. No camera will protect you from your own stupidity, thinking it's a good idea to reach behind your back to quickly pull out your cell phone to record the situation when the cop tells you to show him your hands.
I personally was almost shot in Phoenix Arizona in 2003. I had gotten turned around and ended up making an illegal U-turn. Next thing I see in my rear view mirror are the lights of a cruiser. It was about 9:30 pm and I was fumbling around in the glove compartment for my registration and ID (to present to the officer) and next thing I know, my driver side window is being rapped against. I look over and up, and I'm staring down the barrel of his service pistol.
What I did next likely saved my life. I (very) slowly removed my empty hands from the glove box - placed them in clear view of the officer, placed them on the dash, and waited for him to calm down. I then slid my hands across the dashboard, completely in sight, and rolled the window down. Sometimes civilians have to do our part to de-escalate the situation.
The officer, realizing I wasn't a threat holstered his pistol, and breathed a sigh of relief. After conversing with him, I learned that a Phoenix police officer had been shot and killed in a traffic stop just the previous night. The shooter hadn't been found. I expressed my sympathy for the officer's plight, apologized for appearing threatening, and then in his clear view reached over and handed him my registration and insurance. He ran my plates, gave me back my info, told me that in AZ if the intersection isn't marked with a U-turn sign, then it's not legal to do one, and let me get on my way. No citation. And more importantly, no bullet wound.
But what if I had pulled my hand out with my registration wallet in it? Could he have discerned that in the dark, with my tinted windows it wasn't a gun? I wasn't willing to take that chance. Legally, I could've taken whatever out of the glovebox that I wanted, I could've been rooting all over the cabin of that car looking for whatever. But just because it's legal, doesn't make it smart. Smart kept me alive that night. I'm sure of it.
Fast forward 2 years. I'm in Iraq, manning Entry Control Points, conducting law enforcement type work. This time the weapon is explosives, usually command detonated. Every vehicle that drives by is your potential killer. That vehicle is riding low, is it laden with Semtex, or is it just a crappy toyota with bad suspension? The kill radius of a VBIED is sometimes as much as 300 yards. Do you disable the vehicle just in case (which would involve several .50 cal BMG rounds going through the front of it, killing the driver and maybe killing people behind that vehicle) ? There's wires hanging loose under the dash, is that a detonate circuit, or a piss poor electrical wiring job on a stereo? You have less than 1/2 a second to make that decision. That reality, coupled with the reality that if you are close enough to see inside the truck, you're well within the kill radius, is enough to drive people mad. And it has. Cynicism is a result of self-preservation.
Many people are talking about body cameras as a deterrent for unarmed shootings. It won't work against the vast majority of shooting of unarmed people. Why? Simple. The officers believe that they're making the right decision. They have less than 1/2 of a second to process the scene, determine what is in your hand, your demeanor, and then either squeeze the trigger or not. 1/2 second too early, they're a murderer. 1/2 second too late, they're a corpse.
This is the reality that law enforcement officials face. Many civilians who've never been shot at have no idea what the concepts of 'compression' and 'buffering' mean. This video gives a few valuable pieces of insight into what makes an officer shoot or not shoot.
It's long, about 49 minutes, but the information in it is invaluable, and possibly, could save your life some day. The detective on hand gives reasons why the shoot was considered clean or not clean, why it was legal to shoot, why you shouldn't shoot, and also tells what cops are trained to look for when determining a shoot/no shoot situation. It also shows you the time frame that cops (or civilians) have to make in determining whether to squeeze the trigger or not.
Fast forward to minute 8:00 or so for the civilian scenarios, and fast forward to minute 39 or so I think for the LE scenarios.
Watch the video, see if YOU make the right determination, and if YOU don't accidentally shoot an innocent or get shot as a result of hesitating. I'll admit, I would've killed the kid reaching into the backpack at minute 37 of the video I think. It took a lot of willpower on the part of the detective not to pull that trigger. Watch that part and think about how quickly that cop had to determine it was a cell phone and not a compact pistol.
The key points that a cop uses in determining a shoot are as follows:
- Presence of a weapon. Pretty self-explanatory, but cops don't face just bullets as weapons. Not everyone knows this, but bullet proof vests don't protect against stabbing. And bullet proof vests don't work like they do in hollywood. The vest prevents penetration, not the force. You get hit by a bullet, you're going down, likely with a broken rib, possibly a punctured lung, and you're not going to be up for much more of a fight after that.
- Non-compliance. Sure, it's not your requirement to comply with an officers commands, but you're putting yourself at risk by not doing so. Showing your hands and turning to face them, moving slowly and deliberately could be construed as 'vitally expedient'.
- Jerky, fast movements. Cops (and military members) are trained to gain and maintain the tactical advantage in a situation. If a person is making quick jerky movements (like I was rummaging through my glovebox) that could make the cop feel that you are trying to regain that tactical advantage, or minimalize theirs.
And another point: those are the SAME deciding points that a shooting review board uses. The fact that you ended up not being armed doesn't automatically equal a bad shoot. If you were non-compliant, moving around all over the place, reaching in your pockets or behind you, and the cop shoots you - he's going to be cleared of the shooting.
Once civilians understand how officers are trained, they might better realize how to keep themselves from getting shot by being mistaken for a threat.