An Important Factor in Use of Forces Cases

For those of you either military, police or civilian, who have trained with us it is important to note that the decision to apply deadly force also entails those events preceding such application. In other words, what events transpired prior to the event itself, which led to that precise moment when deadly force was physically applied. This is not an insignificant matter. If it was found in the subsequent investigation that certain actions on the shooter’s behalf led to an unnecessary/unjustified shooting then you will be ‘held to answer.’

I have heard first hand, many erroneous snippets of advice provided by those distinctly unqualified to render such advice. This can be a dangerous path to tread. The actions you take prior to an event can radically alter the court’s perception of the lawfulness of your subsequent actions. This entails those facts in evidence of which you, very specifically you, were aware of prior to applying deadly force. Facts known to you ‘post shooting’ cannot be relied upon to justify your actions.

While many shootings transpire in extremely compressed time formats, some do not. What can be brought into question are the alternative measures which an individual did not elect to utilize. This can be a dicey proposition on many levels. In many of the cases on which I have worked alternative measures were not reasonably available. In other cases, alternative measures were effectuated yet met with negative results. This is precisely why each case is adjudicated on its own merits.

While it is interesting to discuss all things firearms related on the internet, what is often lost in the mix is the application of deadly force itself. This is why we instruct in the specific manner in which we do. Absent flash, glitz or unworkable techniques it is the decision making and problem solving capabilities of the individual that is most critical in nature.

Many subjects related to deadly force are important (weapons, techniques, equipment, etc.), but the more overriding question is specifically why such deadly force was applied. Your instructors at ITTS have been involved in documented shootings and have had to answer for their actions. What students experience during our classes is the seriousness and legal obligation incumbent on all of us when defending either ourselves or others. Through the varied drills you experience and problem-solving scenarios requiring advanced skill sets, you are learning to ‘think’ through the problem. An individual who thinks through a problem possesses a greatly enhanced capability of solving and defending their actions in the field as opposed to those who blindly ‘fire’ through situations.

How one reacts and problem-solves through a situation is perhaps the more mitigating factor that is often overlooked. Having worked on shooting cases for over 26 years I have witnessed an increasingly greater challenge within the courts to justify one’s actions. It is an important factor and one which should be taken into serious consideration. Learning from those who have actually ‘been there’ is an invaluable factor in the learning process.

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