A recent police body camera video is stirring up lots of conversation in the law enforcement and firearms training communities.
On July 11th, two convicted felons murdered a Las Vegas resident and fled the scene in a stolen Ford Expedition.
Two hours later, the SUV was spotted by officers, and multiple police cruisers engaged in pursuit. (Las Vegas officers are permitted to engage in vehicle pursuits in cases of a violent felony, or in cases where the suspects pose an imminent danger to the public.) During the pursuit, the suspects fired 34 rounds at police cruisers in 5 separate volleys of fire.
S&W SV40VE (.40 caliber)
Glock 21 (.45 caliber)
Taurus PT111 G2 (9mm)
In addition to the gunfire, the suspect vehicle drove recklessly at high rates of speed, sometimes into oncoming traffic.
Finally, the lead officer in pursuit fired multiple rounds through the front windshield of his cruiser, and several from the driver-side window. In all, 31 rounds were fired from the officer’s Glock 17 (9mm). Most of the conversation surrounding the incident surrounds this aspect of the chase, and whether the officer was legally justified in this engagement.
Las Vegas Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly made clear that the incident was justified by the department’s use of force policy, which reads in part:
Officers are authorized to discharge a firearm at or from a moving vehicle in the even that the operator of the moving vehicle presents an imminent danger to the officer or others. If an imminent threat is identified, and deadly force is the only option, the force will be applied to the individual operating the vehicle, not for the purpose of disabling the vehicle.
As you can see in the video, the suspect vehicle slowed, turning toward the wall of a building. The suspect driving exited the SUV while it was still moving and ran up a nearby set of stairs toward the door of the building: an elementary school. Thankfully, the door to the school was locked.
Meanwhile, the suspect that had been in the passenger seat got behind the wheel and threw the SUV in reverse. At that point, a second officer moved in and took a single shot with a department-issued Remington 870 shotgun, killing him. (The officer with shotgun can just barely be seen on the right side of the video at the end.)
The suspect that had fled up the stairway was located and arrested without further gunfire.