New York City police officers are upset over a legislative proposal that would require them to shoot gun-wielding suspects in the arm or leg rather than shoot to kill.
The “minimum force” bill, which was introduced in the New York State Assembly last week, seeks to amend the state penal codes’ “justification” clause that allows an officer the right to kill if he feels his life or someone else’s is in imminent danger.
The bill would force officers to use their weapons “with the intent to stop, rather than kill” a suspect. They would be mandated to “shoot a suspect in the arm or the leg.”
Under present NYPD training, cops are taught to shoot at the center of their target and fire their weapon until the threat has been stopped.
“These are split-second, spontaneous events — and officers have to make a full assessment in a fraction of a second,” said an angry Michael Paladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association. “It is not realistic, and it exists only in cartoons.
“It’s moronic and would create two sets of rules in the streets if there is a gunfight. This legislation would require officers to literally shoot the gun out of someone’s hand or shoot to wound them in the leg or arm. I don’t know of any criminal who doesn’t shoot to kill. They are not bound by any restrictions.”
“The legislators have their heads buried in the sand, and we would not be able to fully protect the public or ourselves.”
In fact, NYPD officers and detectives hit their targets only 17 percent of the time because of the incredibly stressful circumstances surrounding a shooting.
Paladino, whose association represents 5,100 investigators, said he showed the bill last week to Vice President Joe Biden, who scoffed and suggested it be dubbed “The John Wayne Bill” because it demands sharp-shooting skills of the kind only seen in movies.
Sponsored by Brooklyn Assembly Members Annette Robinson (D-Bedford Stuyvesant) and Darryl Towns (D-East New York), the bill came up at the Assembly Codes Committee but was held for further consideration rather than killed or put to vote before the full Assembly.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, the Codes Committee chair from Fort Greene and Williamsburg, said that the bill is well-intentioned but that the language may need changing.
Section of Assembly Bill A02952
“A police officer or peace officer . . . uses such force with the intent to stop, rather than kill . . . and uses only the minimal amount of force necessary to effect such stop.”
THE CURRENT LAW
Section of state Penal Law S 35.15(2)(a)(ii)
“A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person . . . unless: he or she is . . . a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter’s direction.”