On May 4 – 5, 2023, I was a speaker at the Lakefly Writers Conference, where I discussed writing a Crime Thriller/Mystery.
At a sidebar later in the day, I was asked about the use of deadly force by the police from a writer’s standpoint. (This might also be helpful for all of us to know). The discussion veered from my writing to my police experience. Specifically, I was asked, “When ‘can’ a police officer use deadly force?” I responded, “The right question is when ‘must’ a police officer use deadly force.
A Police officer must consider the following: Are innocent bystanders in harm’s way? Did the suspect use deadly force? If the suspect gets away, will that result in injury or death to others? The “objective reasonableness” standard is a balance between the rights of the person being arrested and the government interest that allows enough force to overcome resistance.
Deadly force is an option only when it is believed that no other action will succeed. And the officer must consider the severity of the offense, how much of a threat the suspect poses, and the suspect’s attempts to resist or flee.
If a misdemeanor. Police may shoot only in self-defense or defense of others. In the case of a felony, the police may use all necessary force (even deadly) to overcome resistance. As to a fleeing felon, the Supreme Court in Tennessee v Garner (1985) ruled it violates the 4th Amendment for a police officer to use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon suspect who is nonviolent and unarmed.
I hope this helps.