Question for LEO
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Thread: Question for LEO

  1. Question for LEO

    I have a question for a LEO regarding ramifications of drawing my firearm in a given situation but not firing. I will provide an examplesof situations I am referring to:

    Someone pulls a lethal weapon such as a knife with an intent to rob or assault me or some innocent bystander. The person is outside of immediate striking distance but close enough to overtake their intended target if an attempt to retreat is made. In my mind, I have a firearm and he has a knife. If he attacks me I am most likely in the better situation. So the question is, he is within 10-15 feet of his target, and pulls a knife with obvious bad intent. I pull my firearm but do not shoot immediately to give him the chance to yield. What would the legal ramifications be? I am thinking that if I am able to take myself or the bystander out of harms way without shooting the bad guy, that would be the ideal choice for me. However, I have heard that not firing would negate my defense of feeling myself or someone else was in immediate danger and therefore would be open to prosecution.

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  3. #2
    I'm not an LEO or a lawyer, but I am awake, so I'll chime in. Most states have the same requirement for presenting as for shooting. A would-be BG that close to you with a knife is a threat, certainly enough that you fear for your life or greivous bodily harm. Your objective (and your right), weather you pull the trigger or not, is to stop the threat, nothing more. If you present and the BG turns and runs, you have stopped the threat.

    If you present and the BG stands there and starts reciting poetry, knife still in hand, he's a certified wacko. You keep the sights on him. Until he turns and runs, he is still a threat to your life. But, while you are keeping him in the sights with your strong arm, you're calling 911 with the other. You are also backing up a bit, creating a more comfortable distance between you and the BG. You give the dispacher a description of yourself (the GOOD GUY) so the cops know who is who. Realize though, that if you're still holding a gun at the BG when the cops show up, you'll have guns pointed at you with orders to drop your weapon. But that beats gettin' shanked, right?
    The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first. - Thomas Jefferson

  4. #3
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    I agree with the assesment and presentation from utimmer43. Your purpose in carrying it to protect yourself (or others) from threat, not to be a killing machine. And keeping the suspect from escaping if possible I believe will also be viewed as proper assuming the suspect was indeed in the process that a prudent person would view them as immenently about to cause bodily injury or to commit a forcible felony (armed robbery and armed assault are both forcible felonies).

    In general you can present under the same conditions as you may fire and most state's laws justify lethal force at the forcible felony level, not the "I'm going to die" level.

    However, Utimmer make an important point. If he turns and runs do not pursue, and do not pull the trigger! You are not LEO and as stated your job is to stop the threat NOT the bad guy. (Do get as good a description as you can).

  5. Thanks for the feedback! That would be my assessment as well, I just wanted other's opinions and an LEO's take as well. If given no other choice I will use deadly force, but my first choice would be to de-escalate the situation if possible.

    I definitely would not pursue or fire after the BG if he decided to run. I agree, at that point he would be the police's responsibility.

  6. #5
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    I was under the misconception also that if I presented, I was expected to terminate the aggressor (BG) and that if I drew and did not shoot I would be prosocuted. However, during the conceled class that I took retired SC LEO explained a similar situation where the BG retreated after firearm was drawn and after explaining the intire situation asked what the permit holder did wrong. The retired Washington DC LEO next to me said "he didn't shoot him". Kinda funny looking back now but that's when we were taught that we are given the right to go to any level with the firearm to stop the iminant threat. Even if that only required flashing the holstered weapon.
    Last edited by Aggressive1; 05-05-2009 at 12:27 PM. Reason: grammer
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  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Aggressive1 View Post
    I was under the misconception also that if I presented, I was expected to terminate the aggressor (BG) and that if I drew and did not shoot I would be prosocuted. However, during the conceled class that I took retired SC LEO explained a similar situation where the BG retreated after firearm was drawn and after explaining the intire situation asked what the permit holder did wrong. The retired Washington DC LEO next to me said "he didn't shoot him". Kinda funny looking back now but that's when we were taught that we are given the right to go to any level with the firearm to stop the iminant threat. Even if that only required flashing the holstered weapon.
    I'm not clear on what your belief is now. Do you still think that if you draw you must shoot? Or has that changed?

    Just to clear up... Let's say the BG is running toward you with a knife, so you draw your weapon with the full intention of shooting this guy square in the chest. If the BG sees that you are reaching for a gun and changes his mind, turns around and starts running away before you get the shot off, and you still shoot him in the back, you're going to jail. If you don't shoot him in the back, you're clear.
    The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first. - Thomas Jefferson

  8. #7
    I'm unsure of this as well, and neither do I want to shoot/kill anybody. But I know one thing you MUST do, call 911 immediately after the incident. You want to be the first one to call and report an incident of being assaulted. If you don't call and assume you've stopped the threat and the BG is gone, the BG may call the cops and report you for brandishing. He will have no doubt stashed his knife and claim innocence when you counter his statements. Or worse, the BG goes away, but follows you home and this time he has a gun and some buddies. Not good.

    When I took my CWP class, our LEO instructor said to shoot him. Don't let him turn. I could only see not shooting him if he were to lay on the ground, surrender his knife and wait for the police to show up as I call 911. But I don't plan on making citizen's arrest.

    Of course I don't need to mention this is all "what I would do" which I don't know until put in that situation.
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  9. #8
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    Sorry for not being clear, I though my last statement made better sence. I know now that I should only use the minimum force necessary to stop the bad guy from approaching....such as bandishing with fire arm aimed at the ground in the ready position. I mentioned showing my houlstered fire arm, but trully I don't think I would ever show the fire arm and not draw it. If the BG is close enough for me to feel threatened I should have the firearm in ready position. But it is my understanding that I have the right to go as far as shooting the BG if thats what I feel it takes to stop the threat. All of which could be argued in court so I better make sure my peers would agree with my decisions.

    My story was just to point out the Washington DC retired LEO thought if he drew the weopon while in danger he should have fired.
    SC CWP
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    Taurus PT1911 ALR

  10. #9
    Thats a good rule of thumb though, drawing means emminent discharge, according to that LEO.
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    NH non-res CWP
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  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralSumter View Post
    Thats a good rule of thumb though, drawing means emminent discharge, according to that LEO.
    You could view it that way or reword it to say that you should not draw unless you feel you would HAVE THE JUSTIFICATION to fire... however, what is being noted is that there is (to the best of my knowledge) NO law on the books of any state that ever REQUIRES the firing of a weapon just because it has been drawn.

    And drawing in self-defense is not brandishing (in the criminal definition).

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