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Introduction

Deadly  force  is  an  amount  of  force  that  is  likely  to  cause  either  serious  bodily  injury  or  death  to  another  person  (Griffin, T. J,1971). Firearms, bladed, weapons, explosives, and vehicles are among those weapons the use of which would be considered deadly force. The rules that guide the use of deadly on force on citizens differ depending on the circumstances and even the places. For instance where the person in question is posing danger to the people around, then the police can use deadly to restrain the individual. Here force is used to protect the public from harm, which is justifiable. The  rules  guiding  the  use  of  deadly  force  have  changed  greatly  over  the  years. In the twelfth century, deadly force was allowed regardless of the circumstances. This was in line with common law, which gave discretion to the police to decide when and when not to use deadly force if they needed to arrest a person. However, in the modern day society, the police have been stripped of the discretion to determine when to use deadly force. Instead courts have restricted the use of deadly force to a few selected and dangerous situations. The  police  should  only  use  deadly  force  as  a  last  resort  when  all  other  means  have  failed  or  cannot  reasonably  be  employed. This  use  of  deadly  force  by  the  police  must  be  justifiable  under  the  prevailing  circumstances  at  the  time.

When is the use of deadly force justifiable?

Deadly force is only justified as a last resort. This is especially, if there is significant threat of death or bodily harm to yourself or the people around you. However this is a question of judgment which is left to the interpretation of the person who feels his or her life is danger. Even with that, the use of force given the circumstances the degree of judgment and subsequent use of force should be reasonable. Note that the use of force is not permitted and thus against the law, but it is justified in some instances. This will be explained in detail below.

The police in more than one instance in their career have come face to face with many scenarios in which their lives were in danger. Many security officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Whereas the use of deadly force is illegal, there are exceptions to this law, especially in the event of self defense. Police officers are allowed to use deadly force in the event that, they feel that there life is threatened in any way.  However,  the  police  officer  should  use  the  amount  of  force  that  is  reasonable  and  necessary  in  the  situation  as  judged  by  what  a  reasonable  person  would  have  done  in  the  circumstances.  The  police  officer  is  only  allowed  to  respond  with  deadly  force  in  a  scenario  where  the  aggressor  uses  or  attempts  to  use  deadly  force.

Defense of other is another situation where deadly force is justified. A police officer or any person for that matter is allowed to use deadly force in the defense of another person. This is not only justified in the public domain, but also, a defense in court. The force used however should not only be reasonable but also necessary given the circumstances at the time. The degree of reasonableness and necessesity is left to the person and public for judgment and hence action befitting the situation. In many instances police officers and citizens alike have been caught on the wrong side of the law and made to justify the amount of force used against another person while defending others or themselves. However deadly force has proved to make things work in the right way and thus ensure public safety to all.

In order to prevent crime, deadly force is justified especially if the suspects do abide by orders from a police to surrender. The responsibility of security officers is to restrain criminals and as a result eradicate criminals. A police officer in the line of duty can unleash deadly force on an individual in order to prevent a crime. However the force should be reasonable and befitting the situation at that moment in time. In situations where criminals take hostages and hold them at gun point, or try to access a sensitive places where they are not allowed, for instances the residence of a president or institutions such as banks or other public places with intent to commit a crime, deadly force is without doubt justified. This is especially where the suspects defy orders to stand down.

Enforcement of laws in any given place is not always welcome. Some people may defy the law, throw common sense to the wind and insist on having their way. This is evident all over the world. For instance in war torn Somalia is an instance where, a certain faction would like to have its way. This kind of defiance with total disregard of the law affects the country and the lives of the people in general. In light of this, use of deadly force is justified, if only to ensure that the people adhere to the laws of the land. If police cannot use necessary force to enforce the laws, then there is no need to have the laws in place. A person who willingly defies the law of the land should be forced to adhere to it even if it means deadly force.

Any other circumstance, other than the situations mentioned above, would warrant use of deadly force illegal. However this is a matter subject to the interpretation of the courts. However,  each  of  the  circumstances  has  strict  requirements  that  must  be  met  to  avoid  criminal  liability.  Since  laws  vary  from  state  to  state,  local  laws  should  be  consulted  for  the  applicable  requirements  in  the  areas  of  concern.

Real Life Situations

One  encounter  of  the  police  that  lead  them  to  use  deadly  force  was  is  in  Amarillo,  Texas.  This  incident  occurred  early  in  the  Sunday  morning  of  30th  January  2011  on  Polk  Street.  Amarillo  police  officers  were  within  a  block  of  the  shootings  when  first  shots  were  fired.  They  chased  and  tasered  one  person  and  found  a  gun  near  him.  Three  young  men  continued  to  fire  shots  and  after  being  ordered  to  stop,  drove  their  vehicle  at  the  police  who  responded  by  firing  their  weapons.  Brent  Barbee  of  the  Amarillo  Police  Department  said  the  following  statement  to  justify  the  use  of  deadly  force,  "  Shooting  out  a  tire  is  nearly  impossible  and  not  guaranteed  to  stop  a  vehicle.  On television it always works but not in real life.  We  do  not  draw  firearms  unless  we're  in  a  situation  that  require  deadly  force.  We  don't  use  it  as  a  stop  gap  measure  to  stop  a  vehicle."

Another  incident  of  police  use  of  deadly  force  occurred  in  Danville,  Illinois.  On  the  Saturday  of  27th  November  2010,  deputies  at  the  Vermilion  Sheriff  Office  responded  to  a  911  call  for  a  report  of  a  man  destroying  property  inside  his  apartment  at  2423  Georgetown  Road,  near  Maplewood  Avenue  south  of  Danville.  The  police  had  been  called  by  the  building's  landlord  after  he  had  received  information  that  the  resident  was  destroying  property  inside  the  apartment  and  after  confirming  seeing  damage  inside  the  apartment.  Additional  property  was  damaged  while  the  police  were  there  and  three  Vermilion  deputies  entered  the  department  and  approached  the  subject,  Michael  J.  Brandel, to place him under arrest.  The  deputies  deployed  a  taser  to  try  and  control  the  subject  after  he  refused  to  comply  with  their  commands.  The  subject  continued  to  resist  and  began  thrusting  a  sharpened  piece  of  broken  wood  toward  the  deputies.  This  was  when  one  of  the  deputies  fired  his  semi-automatic  weapon  pistol  three  times,  striking  the  subject  who  was  pronounced  dead  on  the  scene.  One of the deputies received minor injuries during the incident.  The  Illinois  State  Police  Zone  5,  which  investigates  shootings  that  involve  police  officers,  were  requested  by  the  sheriff's  office  to  investigate  the  matter.

In  the  state  of  Iowa  in  1930,  a  sheriff  faced  a  wrongful  death  suit  after  killing  a  misdemeanor  suspect.  The  sheriff,  while  in  the  process  of  arresting  the  misdemeanor  suspect,  shot  him  dead.  In  court,  the  sheriff  claimed  that  he  used  deadly  force  in  order  to  defend  himself  and  the  court  ruled  in  his  favor. In  Seattle,  Washington,  on  the  21st  of  March  1999,  police  officers  were  pursuing  a  fleeing  robbery  suspect  on  Burke  Gilman  Trail.  The  suspect  shot  at  the  officers  and  the  officers  returned  fire.  The  suspect  was  shot  several  times  but  the  incident  was  non-fatal.

The  use  of  deadly  force  by  the  police  is  an  issue  that  has  been  a  major  discussion  point  through  the  years.  The  issue  of  whether  it  is  justifiable  or  not  is  the  major  talking  point  when  it  comes  to  the  use  of  deadly  force.  The  laws  relating  to  police  use  of  deadly  force  have  been  modified  over  time  in  order  to  restrict  the  use  of  deadly   force.  There  are  specific  situations  where  the  police  are  justified,  at  least  legally,  in  using  deadly  force.  However,  the  use  of  deadly  force  should  only  be  used  as  last  resort  after  all  other  means  have  failed  or  are  not  applicable  due  to  the  prevailing  circumstances.  Some  of  the  circumstances  that  are  taken  into  consideration  are  the  severity  of  the  offence,  how  much  of  that  a  threat  the  suspect  poses,  and  the  suspect's  attempts  to  resist  or  flee  the  police  officer.

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