Do cops ever shoot to injure?

I’ve heard that police are trained to never take out their gun unless they’re prepared for deadly force. I’m very very sadly aware that there is no “shoot the gun out of his hand”, but surely they could aim for the leg or something when the target needs to be subdued but not killed? Say, for instance, a man running away from arrest for unarmed robbery.

Well? If a cop shoots at you, is s/he always aiming to kill?

I believe they shoot to ‘stop’. To stop you they have to hit you, which might be difficult if they’re shooting at your legs.

As understand it the cops have a choice between a dead armed suspect and a wounded pissed off armed suspect. So they’re trained to go for dead.

Add to that the difficulty of aiming for relativly small limbs, which are also much more more mobile than the bodymass, and you can see why you’re gonna get slugged in the chest and end up dead. (Probably).

On very rare occasions, SWAT or sometimes even a regular officer will try to shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand. Mostly, though, they are aiming for the trunk of your body and they are trained to shoot until the bad guy stops. I’ve had more than one police officer tell me that shooting the person in the leg or arm is only Hollywood, and generally just doesn’t work in real life. I’ve seen a video where the bad guy was shot in the arm (not intentionally - he just happened to get shot there) and the bad guy just switched hands with the gun and started shooting. Basically, if you just need to take the guy down with a leg or arm shot, you don’t shoot. You use some other method to subdue the bad guy.

Ever shoot a handgun? Not the most accurate things on the market. Imagine if someone was charging at you with a knife. That person can cover 20 feet by the time the cop draws out.

You really want the police to shoot unarmed people who are no longer making threat and are running away?

And when some cop does this and the suspect dies because the bullet hit an artery in the leg, are you going to be one of those clods screaming and protesting over it?

You’ve never shot a handgun, have you? They are really not that accurate, especially as compared to a rifle. The only reason they’re carried is because they are easier to carry than a long gun. 25 years on the job and I knew few officers that could accomplish your ridiculous scenario of shoting the leg of a moving target.

Such as here

Our training is to hit the target. The best way to ensure you hit it, is to aim for its center and that’s what we’re told to do.

Let’s understand something about that video.

The man was not a moving target, and he was not an active shooter. And the sharpshooter used a sniper rifle, not a handgun, from a rather short distance away.

That was an extremely rare circumstance as compared to the OP’s scenario, and compared to the routine situations of most officers.

Nope. That doesn’t mean they might not be trained in another way than I would expect.

This is a legitimate question born out of admitted ignorance in a forum dedicated to fighting ignorance. Take your hostility elsewhere.

Nope. Never really cared to. Don’t really plan on it. Thank goodness I have nice people like you to answer my questions.

Johnny L.A., that’s a great way to put it. Thanks, everybody, for chiming in if you have experience.


No hostility here, just confussion. You suggested we shoot flleeing people who are no longer making a threat, and now you turn around and say your not suggesting that. Which is it? re-read your own OP if needed.

You want to make suggestions for the use of force using weapons you admittedly have never used yourself. Another unmarried marriage counselor.

I have a great idea though. Join a ploice department and go through the academy.
Learn how to shoot a pistol and learn about the laws and real world situations regarding the use of force.

Not really. I needed an example and that was the first one off the top of my head, and that one had that vague “I think I heard of that happening” ring to it. Anyway, it was a shit example, and I only included it because otherwise people would be asking “in what circumstance?”

My only suggestion so far has been “don’t shoot unarmed people.” My belief, however, was that sometimes it did happen.

That’s a pretty roundabout way of getting answers. I’d rather sit in my comfy chair and ask police officers, who are always more than willing to help.

What the hell? You most certainly did suggest shooting unarmed people (emphasis mine);

Forgive my snarkyness, but your contradictions have me confused.

That was based on the assumption that they already had guns drawn and were planning to shoot. I guess that I have made two suggestions after all, but my idea was “if you’re going to shoot him, wouldn’t it be better to try not to kill?”

As already posted, one shoots to stop, not to kill. However, the best targets for stopping an agressor are also ones that have a high possibility of causing death.
Shooting an active gunman in the leg (even if such aiming were possible) is not going to have the desired effect (stopping the threat).

In your OP one would not be justified in shooting (in the leg or anywhere else) an unarmed suspect who was not a threat and was fleeing.

To put what Nemo and PK are stating into other words, one is trained to shoot for center mass, not only for the sake of firing for effect but also to lessen the possibility that one misses the intended target and inadvertently hits an unintended target. You are much more certain to hit a target if you aim for center mass. The bit about shooting a gun out of a subject’s hand is nonsense. It only happens in Hollywood or in the event of VERY fortunate happenstance in real life. A police office, tactically (SWAT) trained or otherwise, would not try such a stunt.

On the second issue of firing on a known unarmed subject, there is a relevant Supreme Court case. Tennessee v. Garner, 471 US 1 (1985) ended the “fleeing felony” in which an office may legitimately use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon. Since Tennessee v. Garner, a suspect must present a real and imminent threat to the officer or the public if deadly force is to be justified.

Tennessee v. Garner can be found here.

Further, contrary to the opinion of many on this board, cops don’t generally look for an excuse to use force, deadly or otherwise, nor to abuse their authority. It would seem that many in our society tend to define by the outliers when forming their opinion regarding law enforcement.

I hope this helps

From a conversation with a police officer friend a couple of years ago, no. Their standard clear shot (which doesn’t happen much) is two shots, one to chest and one to head. The realities of actual shootings is that you aim for the torso (biased to the chest).

that really is a great shot, wouldn’t dream of trying it with a handgun though

So you guys are saying a cop would just shoot an unarmed elderly crippled man in the head for no reason at all? I’m shocked!

Just kidding. :smiley: Ignorance fought.

I can’t find a cite, but a large majority of police shooters fall into the “rule of 3” catagory:

*3 shots fired
*Within 3 seconds
*At 3 yards (9 feet)

Because of this trying to aim for anything but a large target (i.e. center mass) is unreasonable, especially when someone is threatening leathal force upon you. In that scenario it’s “point shooting” and there is no time to aim for a small target. Especially a useless one like a leg or arm.

Rule number one is also why I don’t get all hung up on capacity of handguns. Having 17+1 rounds in a Glock is fine, but statistically a 5 round revolver would also be adaquate.