How officer involved shootings are handled

KREM 2's Amanda Roley explains how officers respond to hostile threats that require force. (6-7-17 at 5 p.m.)

SPOKANE, Wash. – After fire crews responded to reports of a fire at the Motel 6 in Spokane Valley Wednesday morning, the situation quickly turned hostile. KREM 2 cameras were there when police said a man ran at deputies with a knife, prompting deputies to shoot him.

Since posting the video, viewers have asked KREM 2 questions like “Why did they shoot and why so many rounds?” or “One guy in a hotel room? That many shots?”

KREM 2 spoke with Washington State Patrol to get some insight into how law enforcement officers are trained to handle these types of situations.

It is understandable to wonder why so many shots were fired when there is only one suspect. But law enforcement officers are not worried about the rounds they are firing off. Their priority is to put a stop to whomever is threatening them or the public.

Washington State Trooper Jeff Sevigney said when law enforcement responds to a threat, they will not shoot to kill or shoot to hurt. Sevigney said officers are trained to shoot with the intent of shopping the threat.

“Once I’ve engaged someone that I’ve perceived as life threatening to me or people around me, I’m going to continue to engage that threat until I perceive it not be a threat,” explained Sevigney.

When officers draw their weapons, Sevigney said they will aim for a person’s torso (also known as center mass) because it is too difficult to aim for an arm or leg.

“We shoot for the center mass because it's the largest area, and ultimately the most effective to quickly stop the threat. If I shoot someone in the leg that doesn't stop them necessarily from being a threat,” said Sevigney.

Sevigney also added that officers take life threatening situations very seriously, “The last thing that an officer wants to do when they put on their uniform is to have to use their firearm in a lethal force situation.”

Overall, Sevigney said whether it is one, two or five people posing a threat, you should expect to hear several shots fired by officers on scene because their priority is to stop the threat. 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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