Jayland Walker was a 25-year old Black man who was not armed when he was shot and killed last week by Akron police officers. Authorities released footage from their body cameras over the weekend.
Politicians and activists are asking new questions about the number of bullets fired by eight police officers in the shooting.
Experts in police law and law enforcement who have seen bodycam footage of the shooting claim that officers' responses reflect standard police training.
Lance LoRusso is a lawyer who specializes on cases involving the use of force. He stated that officers are trained to fire until they sense a threat and/or believe it has ended.
However, other experts warn that the U.S. Police Training is not up to par with other countries in terms of addressing the psychological as well as physiological aspects of the use-of-force.
Stephen Mylett, Akron's police chief, stated this at Sunday’s news conference. He was asked about police protocols for situations where multiple officers fire at a suspect, and how many bullets should he fire.
Mylett stated that officers had independently reported to Mylett that they perceived such a threat, even though the investigation into the shooting remains ongoing.
Police said that what started as a routine traffic stop became a public safety concern when it appeared that Walker fired a shot from his vehicle during the pursuit. While Walker was said to have left his gun behind as he fled on foot from his car, police stated that they were afraid that Walker was planning to shoot them.
Mylett stated that he wasn't sure how many shots were fired at Walker but that he believed it would be high.
LoRusso pointed out that legally, it doesn't matter how many shots were fired in such cases. According to the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that officers may fire on suspects to end a serious threat to public safety. They do not have to stop firing until the threat is over. The courts will decide if the officers' assessment was reasonable.
According to Edward Obayashi (deputy sheriff in Plumas County), Calif., a high number of bullets can lead to deadly outcomes.
Obayashi stated that despite Hollywood's portrayals of Lethal Weapon and Dirty Harry, there are no cops that can even come close to this level of shooting ability.
LoRusso added that moving targets, poorly lit environments, and changing circumstances are all factors to consider. "Aiming at the largest target possible is the best way to avoid unintended hits," he said.
The lawyer stated that legally, it doesn't make any difference whether a suspect is shot in the thighs or the chest.
"The shooting of any person in any body part is the same level aEUR deadly force aEUR", he stated, adding that both shots carry the same risk of serious bodily injury or even death, which is the standard for justifying the use of deadly force.
Many officers are equipped with semiautomatic weapons, which can be used to fire a full magazine aEUR," usually 15 to 17 rounds, in a matter of seconds. Obayashi also serves as a consultant on the use-of-force to law enforcement agencies.
This means that an officer may fire unwarranted numbers of bullets in a short time before he realizes it's time for him to stop firing.
"It will take another time for your vision signal to the brain to say, 'Oh, okay, the threat has ended. "I'm going to cease firing."
Maria "Maki", a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor of police science, stated that the physiological response is not to be underestimated.
She said, "Unfortunately, adrenaline and stress take over, and it can't be just clinically explained in terms what's right or wrong."
She said that one of the physiological effects of stress is inability to see well.
She said that peripheral vision can be impaired by up to 70%, which affects the perception of how many bullets hit the suspect. They don't know if the bullets hit the target.
Multiply the number of officers in the group and the probability of a bullet being fired increases exponentially.
Haberfeld stated that the U.S. police training is generally behind other countries in terms of addressing physiological components in use force situations.
Officers can learn proper force use in just 17 weeks. However, she stated that this is something that takes months upon months of training and they aren't getting it.
Haberfeld stated that she has spent a lot of time studying European police forces and training universities and academies. She said that Finland and Norway are excellent examples of countries that provide three to four years' training that includes "not only the tactical use but also the psychological, emotional aspects of using force."