Police: When Can Officers Use Deadly Training?

5:46 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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Police say that the December 21st fatal shooting at a Macon grocery store happened after a mentally ill man, Sammie Davis Junior, assaulted police officer Clayton Sutton, and the case illustrates how officers must rely on their training to decide when and how to act.

Every year, all officers must go through at least one hour of online or classroom instruction on using deadly force.

It's part of their annual requirement to get twenty or more hours of training.

Officers from around the state get a lot of that training, especially about how and when to use deadly force, at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.

"Georgia law allows any person to use deadly force to prevent death or bodily harm to themselves or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. So, police officers can use deadly force in those circumstances as well," says instructor Steve Barnhart.

He adds, "The standard that officers must follow is a standard of objective reasonableness, and that is would any officer, any reasonable officer, in the same circumstances believe it is appropriate to use deadly force."

Whether the target is adult, child, or mentally or physically ill, that standard never changes.

Barnhart says, "The issue is whether or not the suspect is at the time presenting a situation where the officer has to act immediately to prevent the death or serious injury of the officer or some other person. While we do provide training to guide officers in how to deal with and respond to situations with the mentally ill or handicapped, there is no distinction under the law on how officers would react in a deadly force situation."

Officers are also taught to continue shooting until the suspect is no longer a threat.

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