The introduced bill has already been pulled but the details where interesting, one wonders what will be next.....Doc
Recently, national media reported that a New York state senator had introduced legislation that would force police officers using deadly force to try to shoot violent suspects in the arms or legs to stop them.
His proposed law would have required that officers stop firing at an attacker as soon as a threat is neutralized, or face felony charges of second-degree manslaughter.
In an explanatory memorandum accompanying his shoot-to-wound bill, Sen. David Paterson, a Democrat and anti-capital punishment advocate from Harlem, states: "There is no justification for terminating another's life when a less extreme measure may accomplish the same objective."
Shortly after word of the proposed legislation hit law enforcement circles and the full ramifications of the proposal were understood, John Grebert, executive director of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police, met with the Senator, who decided to pull the bill. That decision came 5 years after the bill was first introduced.
This situation had some wondering if mandatory shooting to wound is going to be the next "cause" taken up by civil rights activists in other states as well?
Paterson, the state senate's minority leader, said he proposed the legislation in response to the acquittal of 4 NYPD officers charged criminally in the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo. Diallo was gunned down in a fusillade of 41 rounds. Nineteen bullets struck Diallo when he was challenged by police in the high-crime Bronx area and reached for what officers thought was a weapon but turned out to be his wallet.
Shooting just to wound a suspect as an initial response to perceived threats would "safeguard the public," Paterson said.
His bill, which was co-sponsored by 6 other senators, would have required that officers use deadly force "with the intent to stop, rather than kill," a subject who is believed to be "using unlawful force." The officer should use "only the minimum amount of force necessary" to stop the suspect's flight or resistance, the bill specified.
In his supportive memorandum, Peterson explained that "an officer would have to try to shoot a suspect in the arm or the leg….Further, the number of times an officer shoots a person should not exceed the minimal number necessary to stop the person. If one shot accomplishes the purpose, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for an officer to empty his barrel. The bill is intended to limit the use of force to the minimal amount needed."
Paterson has tried before--unsuccessfully--to get such legislation enacted. He's currently running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, NY's attorney general, who was said not to favor the proposed legislation.
Neither did NY-based police associations, to put it mildly. Outraged police spokesmen described Paterson's bill variously as "lunacy," "very ill-conceived" and dangerous to the lives of officers and innocent civilians.
Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, concured. "Senator Paterson does not understand any of the issues of performance psychology and performance skill," he says bluntly. "He apparently has been trained by TV to think that officers have lots of time and are able to do amazing things when they are confronted with life-threatening dangers.
"In reality, most deadly encounters unfold very rapidly and very dramatically. Shooting to wound is rarely an option. Given the training most officers have, they are lucky to put bullets into center mass without trying to hit limbs that can be moved faster and more radically than larger parts of the body. Paterson's proposal is almost beyond commentary."
Although Sen. Paterson withdrew his bill, the sentiment behind it seems to remain firmly embedded in many civilian psyches.
"When I encounter civilian response to officer-involved shootings, it's very often 'Why didn't they just shoot him in the leg?'" says Lewinski. "When civilians judge police shooting deaths--on juries, on review boards, in the media, in the community--this same argument is often brought forward. Shooting to wound is naively regarded as a reasonable means of stopping dangerous behavior. "In reality, this thinking is a result of 'training by Hollywood,' in which movie and TV cops are able to do anything to control the outcomes of events that serves the director's dramatic interests. It reflects a misconception of real-life dynamics and ends up imposing unrealistic expectations of skill on real-life officers."