“Contagious Shooting” Cited In NYC Strip Club Case


“Contagious shooting” is gunfire that spreads among officers who believe that they, or their colleagues, are facing a threat, says the New York Times. An officer fires, so his colleagues do, too. It apparently happened several times recently in New York City, including this past weekend. Police say five officers fired 50 shots at a bridegroom who, leaving his bachelor party at a strip club, twice drove his car into a minivan carrying plainclothes officers. The man was killed. Eugene O'Donnell, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said a high number of shots fired underscores the threat the officers felt. “The only reason to be shooting in New York City is that you or someone else is going to be killed and it's going to be imminent,” he said. “It's highly unlikely you fire a shot or two shots. You fire as many shots as you have to, to extinguish the threat. You don't fire one round and say: 'Did I hit him? Is he hit?' ”

To the layman, 50 shots seems a startlingly high number to be fired at unarmed people. Experts agree that the number was high; they note that in the chaotic and frightening fractions of a second between quiet and gunfire, nothing is clear-cut, and blood is pumping furiously. Even 50 shots can be squeezed off in a matter of seconds. “We can teach as much as we can,” said John Cerar, retired commander of the Police Department's firearms training section. “The fog of the moment happens. Different things happen that people don't understand. Most people really believe what it's like in television, that a police officer can take a gun and shoot someone out of the saddle.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/27/nyregion/27fire.html?hp&ex=1164690000&amp

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