For Self-Defense Only

After examining a time and place where SWAT was apparently used in place of low-impact, low-danger police work, Herschel Smith makes the following statement:

With certain very narrow exceptions (such as when a police officer believes that a perpetrator will commit a violent crime against someone), the Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee versus Garner means that the police can use their own weapons in self defense, but they cannot use deadly force as a means to arrest or detain.  Basically, a police officer’s weapon carries no more legal standing than the weapon I carry on my own person, concealed or openly.  Its purpose is self defense.

I confess to being unaware of the referenced case and the conclusion drawn here. Are any of you knowledgeable in this topic? If so, I would appreciate some further enlightenment, either in the comments for this post or via email.

If my understanding of the quoted statement is correct, the popular “stop or I’ll shoot” would be inappropriate, indeed even illegal in most LEO interactions.

2 thoughts on “For Self-Defense Only

  1. I’ve always understood that the idea of a police officer shooting a fleeing suspect was a myth of the movies and comic books, like the idea that the average corporation employs a hit team, or the idea that you can safely (to the guard) and reliably disable a guard by knocking him out.

    Of course, if the suspect is “considered armed and dangerous”, that is another story.

  2. mzk1,

    I would agree that the idea of shooting someone for running away is indeed the stuff of movies, but the issue here seems to go beyond that to the drawing of a weapon or threatening with a weapon to prevent the person from going away.

    Your last sentence may give us a clue. Is the default position of LEOs to assume that essentially everyone is armed and dangerous?

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