Every time there is a story regarding peace officers shooting someone who had a knife, there are two groups of people who usually think two different things. The public wonders why, and peace officers everywhere think, “What will I do if I’m ever in that situation?”
Most people don’t understand that much of the training for firefighters and peace officers comes from mistakes that were made — mistakes that cost them their lives, or caused life-threatening, career-ending injuries.
In the law enforcement world, subjects with edged weapons are some of the most difficult situations to deal with, and many officers have paid the ultimate price for taking the situation lightly. It is human nature to think, “It’s only a knife,” and, “The person with the knife is too far away to be a danger.” Training for officers regarding subjects with knives has been derived from martial arts experts in the field of knife fighting.
With a gun in its holster, they have shown — and we proved it time and again in training classes — that a person with a knife 21 feet away can attack and stab you before you can shoot them. Even with a gun drawn, the subject can more than likely still get to you before you can incapacitate them. And trying to only “wound” someone attacking you is asking for trouble. If time (knowing ahead of time that someone has a knife), distance and some type of barrier are involved, you have a much better chance.
I don’t know the facts of the Lodi shooting case. Some have said the person was always peaceful during prior contacts. You never know what someone is going to do. A vet? I’m thankful, but now you have a knife in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.
Like I said, it’s not an easy decision. Although the officers involved are safe, I’m sure they would rather they never had to face that situation.