First Take:  You confront a suspect who
you've been told is armed with a gun.  
You stop him in a residential park area
where he's standing with his back to a
hillside.  The first thing you should notice
is that if you have to fire your weapon,
any shots fired by you will either hit the
suspect or impact harmlessly into the

As you hold the suspect at gunpoint, you
order him to first drop the gym bag he is
carrying.  Here's where he starts
something that you're going to see
often.  He doesn't follow your
commands.  In this instance, he unzips
the gym bag; even though, you're
shouting at him to immediately drop the
bag.  Next he reaches into the bag with
his right hand.  Here's where you're
going to have to make your decision
whether or not to employ deadly force.  
Does he point the bag toward you?  
Does he draw a gun from the bag?  Does
he finally drop the bag without removing
any contents?
He finally drops the bag, but as the bag
falls, you clearly make out the sawed-off
handle, he's holding in his hand, of the
sawed-off shotgun he was concealing in
the gym bag.

You're pointing your pistol at the
suspect.  What do you do now?  Do you
order him to drop the gun?  Do you wait
for the suspect to raise the gun so that
it's pointing at you?  I don't think so.  
This suspect had ample opportunity to
drop the bag while it contained the gun.  
This suspect has made his intention very
clear, and you are now in a deadly force

Now, this suspect has a single barrel,
single shot 12 gauge shotgun.  You have
a 9mm pistol containing 17 bullets.  You
know your going to apply deadly force.  
How many shots are you going to fire?  
Your training has taught you to fire two
shots in quick succession.  Remember,
your intention is not to kill this suspect,
your intention is only to incapacitate
him.  You know to fire at center mass
only because the torso presents the
larger target.  You're not that far apart,
so the critics will say you should shoot
the gun out of his hand.  Yea,
right...screw those idiots...your life is in
real danger here.

You fire two shots from your pistol.  One
bullet hits the suspect in the chest, and
the other strikes the suspect in the right
shoulder.  The suspect immediately drops
the shotgun as he stumbles backward
and collapses.  Your use of deadly force
is over.  The suspect has been
incapacitated, and he no longer presents
a threat to you since he is no longer in
possession of the shotgun.
Here's your shooting scenario
in two takes:
"If you are ever unfortunate enough
to have to shoot a person, you are
shooting only to incapacitate that
person." ~ Barry M. Baker
Second Take:  You fire the first two
shots into the suspect's chest and
shoulder.  The suspect stumbles
backward, but he is still in possession of
the shotgun. Even though he's been
seriously wounded, he attempts to raise
the shotgun.  You fire two more shots.  
Remember, you're under a lot of stress.  
The suspect turns slightly as you fire,
and one bullet misses, and the other
grazes his left arm.  These two shots do
nothing to incapacitate, and the suspect
continues to raise the gun.  You fire two
more shots.  One is a miss, and the
other strikes the suspect in his right
inner thigh.  At this point, you have no
way of knowing, but you've just inflicted
a fatal wound to the suspect with your
sixth shot.  On the hit to his right leg,
the bullet has pierced the femoral artery,
and the suspect is bleeding to death.  
The hit to the leg does make the suspect
fall to the ground, but he continues to
grasp the shotgun.  As he lies on the
ground, he attempts to bring the
shotgun to bear on you.  You fire two
more shots.  One passes harmlessly
between his arm and torso and into the
ground while the second shot strikes his
right forearm.  After all those shots fired,
your eighth and final shot to the forearm
finally incapacitates the suspect when he
drops the shotgun from his right hand.

Obviously, if you'd only had six shots,
you'd be in trouble since it was the
eighth shot that incapacitated this
suspect.  The reason you fired at two
shot intervals was to aid you in staying
on target.  The more shots you fire in
rapid succession, the farther you'll be
drawn off target by the recoil of your
pistol.  Realistically...in this incident, as
described, with such a tenacious
opponent, you'd have probably fired
more than eight shots and more
successive shots.  While your training is
critical, the factors of stress and
adrenalin are going to affect your
response simply because you're fighting
for your life.  The critics will never be able
to wrap their brains around the realities
of a life and death struggle.  

Now... look at this very same
confrontation with only one difference...
there are three police officers present,
and each officer observes the same
actions by the suspect.  Can you imagine
how many shots will be fired in the few
seconds of the gunfight.  Can you
speculate how many hits and misses
might be involved.  In this instance, the
critics will be quick to allege excessive
force based only on the number of shots
fired while ignoring that all three officers
were placed in jeopardy by the suspect's
aggressive actions.   
From the critics' viewpoints, it's easy to
criticize multiple shots fired since any
moron can understand that more bullets
fired increases the odds for more hits;
thus, the use of deadly force may actually
turn out to be deadly.  But, even that
circumstance is not a certain factor.  You
could fire ten shots at a suspect.  The
first shot is a fatal wound while the
additional six hits from the nine additional
shots are not fatal wounds.  What's the
difference?  Well, who knows.  Perhaps
one of the other six hits prevented the
suspect from returning fire inflicting a
fatal wound to you, before he succumbs
to the first fatal wound inflicted by you.
You have to get an understanding of the
worst critics and those who actually listen
to them.  First, the critics believe that
deadly force should never be used.  
Secondly, they don't understand the
meaning of deadly.  These are the same
people who believe that police officers
should be trained to shoot to wound
people, because they simply can't
understand that the difference between
wounding and killing a person with a
bullet is totally beyond your control.

These advocates of shooting to wound
are so confused.  They are the same
people who believe that police officers are
trained to shoot to kill.  If you are ever
unfortunate enough to have to shoot a
person, you are shooting only to
incapacitate that person.  In other words,
you are shooting at that person to
neutralize the threat.  For example, you
fire a shot at a suspect who is armed
with a gun.  Your bullet misses, but the
suspect is so frightened that he drops
the gun.  As long as the suspect poses
no further threat, your missed shot has
incapacitated the suspect.  

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Police Exam Self Help
by Sergeant George
Godoy (Ret).  
Sergeant Godoy
served for 5 years as a police
recruitment specialist where he
personally tested over 1,000
potential police recruits.
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
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