When should officers use deadly force?

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Following the shooting death of Georgia Tech student, Scout Schultz, many are asking whether Georgia Tech Officers could have handled that situation differently, without lethal force.

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A 16-year law enforcement officer and instructor at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, John Hutcheson said they provide realistic real-world scenarios at the training center, but their facility is a controlled environment, on the street is different.

“We teach our officers, train our officers in firearms to aim for the biggest target and that is the center mass of the body,” said John Hutcheson.

Hutcheson said the reason behind shooting the center mass of the body is because in a tense, high-stress situation where officers have a split second to react; the training calls for shooting to terminate the threat.

“Our number one goal is to verbally communicate with that person to try to get their voluntary compliance,” said Hutcheson. “If they do not comply with those commands then the officer is forced to make that decision, whether force is needed.”

In a situation like the shooting of Schultz on the Georgia Tech campus over the weekend, many are asking, “Why not shoot in a less deadly area of the body like the hand or leg?” Veteran officers said that is just not reasonable especially with someone who is moving.

“We do not have time to sit and think, you know maybe I can shoot in the hand, that is movies, that is not reality,” said the veteran officer and instructor, Brian Stokes. “Plus that is a small area, what if I miss and it goes past him and hits an innocent civilian.”

What about a less lethal option like a Taser? Stokes who is a Taser instructor at the training center said it all depends on the situation, but adds a knife is just as deadly as a gun.

“A knife will kill you just as quick as a gun, if not quicker,” said Stokes.

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