On the other hand this, from a recent Force Science Institute email blast about an upcoming study: “You are confronting an armed suspect, no cover available. He faces you, with his gun at his side, pointed at the ground. Your gun is aimed at him and you’re ready to shoot. He ignores your commands to drop his weapon. Are you justified in pulling the trigger before he makes any move to point his gun at you?
According to conclusions reached by researchers in a unique new reaction-time study [slated for publication in Police Quarterly], your preemptively shooting under such circumstances may well be considered reasonable by the standards of Graham v. Connor.
If the offender suddenly points his gun in your direction, you are highly unlikely to get a shot off to defend yourself before he shoots, the researchers documented. Even under ideal circumstances, you probably can fire no faster than simultaneously with the attacker.
These findings “serve to illustrate the extreme danger that armed suspects present to police officers,” the researchers report. “Even when a police officer has his or her gun aimed at [an armed] suspect and the suspect is not aiming at the officer, the officer is still in extreme danger….”
“As our findings show, most officers can’t fire faster than a suspect with a weapon in hand, even if it is not aimed at the officer,” [Dr. J. Pete Blair, an associate CJ professor at Texas State University] writes. Consequently, “we think that an officer who decided to shoot [in the kinds of situations tested] meets the legal definition of reasonableness,” given the “close range of the encounter, the lack of available cover, the failure of the suspect to comply with multiple warnings, and the data” collected.
The researchers stress, however, that they “do not believe that the findings support” automatically shooting “everyone with a gun” or “everyone with a gun who does not comply.” Armed encounters vary in their details, and “the individual officer must consider the totality of circumstances” in choosing a fitting response, including whether issuing commands is feasible or desirable before firing.