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The Shot That Started It All in Ferguson--How Your Officers Are Trained To Deal With Altercations

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Courtney Carter

Jackson–When you hear  “Ferguson,” you think rioting, rubber bullets and military-armed police. But it was the shooting death of Micheal Brown during an altercation with Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson that started it all. So if your police are put in a similar case, how do they respond?

“We say shoot until the threat is neutralized or incapacitated,” says Mississippi Highway Patrol Captain Thomas Tuggle. He says that killing the suspect is never the intention. The intention is saving the officer.

Tuggle describes a 6 to 8 foot window of distance to allow time to react to an assault. He explains that some cases claim Officer Wilson had his hands around Micheal Brown’s neck.

“If that was the case, it was disadvantageous to that officer,” Tuggle states.

 

Though officers are trained to shoot accurately from that 25 yard distance, Tuggle says the gun isn’t the only weapon that is used.

“The most important weapon you bring to work everyday is not your sidearm, it’s your mouth. Because what you say and how you say it could potentially escalate or diffuse a volatile situation.”

Tuggle says that it’s the same thing that happened in Ferguson. Officer Wilson made verbal warnings to stop Micheal Brown. Reports say when Micheal Brown charged the officer without listening to the warning, that’s when Wilson fired the weapon.

“Five shots did not isolate the threat but the sixth did,” Tuggle explains the six shots that hit Micheal Brown. The shot to the head was the fatal shot.

“We’re trained to aim for greatest mass,” Tuggle says that’s where the officers have the most accurate shots.”

But before it comes to the shooting, officers give verbal demands and in some departments, escalate to tazing before shooting. That’s what happened in Canton in early August when Torres Harris faced cops in the Peace Street Coin Laundry.  Canton Chief of Police Otha Brown says officers told him to lower his weapon, then tazed him. When the tazer didn’t work, Harris aimed for the officers again, and that’s when they had to shoot. You can read that story for more information on that case.

 

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