When do police use deadly force?

6:27 PM, Jan 15, 2014   |    comments
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Mark Reminga firearms instructor at the GRCC police academy

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Police shot a 19-year-old Tuesday while performing a wellbeing check on the troubled teen after officers say he threatened them with an air-powered gun.

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Grand Rapids Police say officers followed proper procedure, but what is protocol in that kind of situation? WZZM spoke with Mark Reminga, a firearms instructor at the Grand Rapids Community College police academy.

When determining the use of deadly force, police are taught a three-pronged set of criteria: "Did that individual have the ability? Did that individual have the opportunity? Was there jeopardy," explains Reminga. "If you say yes to all three of those then use of force is justified. Officers often have a split second to make that determination."

Police officers are told to shoot the center mass of the body. "They are not trying to kill a suspect, they are trying to incapacitate that suspect to prevent any further risk to the public or the officer themselves," explains Reminga. "The way in which we teach this to the officer is by discharging the weapon center mass of the body where the vital areas are, and unfortunately sometimes people do die, but it is the quickest way to incapacitate and restore order to a situation where people's lives are at risk."

One of the reasons why officers are taught to shoot at the center mass has to do with accuracy. Reminga says teaching a police officer to aim for a leg or arm would be ineffective. That's because in actual, high pressure situations, officers hit the largest part of the human body an average of 1 in 7 times.

"I don't know any officer who looks forward to the day that they may have to take a life," says Reeminga. "However we accept that responsibility as part of the job."

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