L.A. Columnist Hopes For Best In Police Deadly Force Training Video


Tuesday was kind of a busy day, says Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. I got shot when I interceded in a domestic dispute, then I was attacked by a knife-wielding vagrant, then I shot a robbery suspect but didn’t see his partner, who took me out with a shotgun. Then I went to lunch. Lopez describes taking a video-simulator training session on deadly force at the police academy two weeks after an officer shot and killed a man armed with a knife.

In a training video, actors play threatening suspects and I would have to decide whether to use deadly force (recruits go through 12 hours of this). I could shoot to kill a suspect if I thought he was likely to seriously injure or kill me or someone else. Or to prevent a crime that might lead to serious injury or death. Or to prevent the escape of a violent fleeing felon. Otherwise, I was supposed to hold my fire. Lopez says that when each scenario was done, including one in which he shot a robbery suspect but was killed by his partner, he couldn’t remember exactly what the suspects said or did. “I was too focused on survival and public protection to process every detail. I made my decision, hoped for the best, and then immediately second-guessed everything I’d just done,” Lopez said.

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