Deadly Force Is Usually Justified - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/30/05 - East Texas

Deadly Force Is Usually Justified

by Ramonica R. Jones

Sheriff's deputies, police officers, Texas Rangers, and other law enforcement agents are well aware of how dangerous their jobs can be, but there's no way to truly be prepared for every situation. When their lives are put in danger, deadly force is often the only way to respond.

Captain Tony Galloway of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office said, "[A criminal] does not have to have a weapon. If I went up against three men and they started to beat me to the ground, at any time that I felt that I was going to be knocked unconscious - which would then allow them the availability of my weapon and I could be killed - I would be justified in using deadly force against those people."

So were Huntington police officers in Sunday's shootout with three suspects. It could have ended with another officer down, but quick-thinking police officers took control and probably saved several lives in the process, including their own.

David West, Huntington police chief, said, "There's no way to stay safe when you're pursuing a violator or when you're contacting a violator. The violator has a plan and they know what they're [going to] do. You don't know what they're [going to] do until you get to them."

Whenever an officer shoots, the major goal is to stop the attacker. Sometimes it becomes necessary to fire shots, even if the suspect is unarmed.

"If I try to shoot you in the arm, it'd be very easy to miss," said Captain Galloway. "Where would that bullet then go? There could be someone down the road. There could be a house nearby. It could hit an innocent bystander."

Different rules apply for citizens who are in a potentially deadly situation. Shooting to kill should be a last resort. Citizens also have the right to use deadly force, but if you are in a violent situation and there's a way out, you should try to escape first.

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