Police Shooting situation.

I was curious, under what conditions “on average” could a police officer shoot a fleeing suspect who does not have a weapon in hand.

I ask because of a discussion in the break room today about where this line is drawn with a scenario given involving 2 gang members who were shot by police in the back while running away from them.

They had (according to the story) each thrown away a handgun while fleeing on foot. Police were pursuing them secondary to a gangfight that resulted in several people being shot and police arrived in time to pursue several of the people involved. Many of the details are not covered in the story. I would be very curious if the officers actually saw the weapons dropped as a key question in the story I heard.

I posted in GD since I’m sure its going to be a pretty fuzzy grey line. I’m not looking for the answer to my specific scenario but more what would be some of the factors to look for.

oh well I posted it in GQ…if it becomes a debate time will tell

The federal case that covers shooting fleeing suspects is Tennessee v. Garner. I don’t have a cite available.

In general, the rule is that we can only shoot fleeing suspects if there is reasonable cause to believe that if they are allowed to escape they will present a clear and immediate threat to the public. Usually that requires that we believe that the suspect is still armed, but not necessarily.

If I was pursuing a gang member who was involved in a shooting and saw that he dropped his weapon, I would not be impressed.

Many gang members carry more than one gun.

Whether I’d shoot him in back is another question. Probably not, but if he got off a few shots at his pursuers while attempting to escape, I’d probably try to bring him down if I could get a clear shot.

Thank you for the replies.
I just read Tennesee vs Garner and from the sounds of things the shoot here was at least mostly legit. A suspect, who was fleeing police responding to a gang shooting who was for some point in the pursuit in posession of a weapon.

This would seem to satisfy T v. G’s reference to violent individuals who would be a danger if not apprehended as being appropriate.