Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Discussion, questions on police use of force procedures.
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tpspastin#9
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Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby tpspastin#9 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:37 pm

In light of the incident in Ottawa, what is the lethal force line (feet) when a suspect has a edged/sharp weapon (i.e. knife)?

P.S. My appologies if this is a subject that cannot be discussed and lockage is imminent.

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby Jim Street » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:09 pm

There is no rule, while it still involves perception and situation I'd venture to say that no one should be dealing with an edged weapon with anything BUT a gun.

But as no situations are the same this is not an all encompassing rule.
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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby Dave Brown » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:11 pm

Jim Street is entirely correct. There is no set distance because every situation has to be judged on its own merits, and situations are always dynamic.

Case law in the United States has accepted versions of 21 feet to 25 feet as distances that an assailant can stab an officer before that person can respond to save themselves. This is simple action/reaction, and can be proven very easily.

However, no two situations are the same, nor are they the same from one moment to the next.

The correct answer is, and will always be, that deadly force may be justified by the Criminal Code if the person believes that:
- there is a threat to human life,
- the threat is an immediate threat,
- the assailant has the means (ability) to take that life,
- the assailant has the intent to take that life, and
- there are no other reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force.

In spite of what newspapers and the left-wing media may say, edged weapons will ALWAYS be a deadly threat if the above elements are in place.

This is why the response to a person threatening an officer from 10 feet away standing there with a knife in his hand may be very different than for an assailant with a sharpened screwdriver charging headlong toward an officer from 30 feet away. EVERY situation is different and one cannot put a 'x-number-of-feet' judgement on an officer's actions. One must always use the above criteria to judge the correct response.

As Pete would say, articulate, articulate, articulate.

The bottom line is that there are no intermediate-force weapons that can be instantly employed that will reliably stop an edged-weapon attack without putting the officer or another person in greater danger.

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby A.T.R. » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:28 pm

Draw pistol, seek cover, make as much distance as possible, expect to be cut, fight like a cornered wounded animal.
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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby TacticsPT » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:47 pm

tpspastin#9 wrote:In light of the incident in Ottawa, what is the lethal force line (feet) when a suspect has a edged/sharp weapon (i.e. knife)?

P.S. My appologies if this is a subject that cannot be discussed and lockage is imminent.


No line exsists. If you choose to think of lethal force and edged weapons as a question only relating to distance, you will get yourself hurt, fast.

Use angles, make distance, obtain cover and shoot

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby ASGPS Sheriff » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:12 pm

Also with all the other things mentioned put something in between you and the assailant.

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby gotchya » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:42 pm

To what degree do you think officer ability enters into the IMIM, seeing how it works based largely on officer perception?
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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby Jim Street » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm

Again, there would be no hard and fast rule.

More about how well it could be articulated.

Please, people do not get caught up in distances and static scenarios. Nothing is ever the same twice.

Rely on your training and articulate, articulate articulate.
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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby tpspastin#9 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:48 am

So basicly it doesn't matter what happens just as long as you can speak well? :P Just kidding.

I remember one of the officer's teaching my PF class talking about the lethal line, a distance which basically interprited as if the assailant crosses a line that brigns them within a certain distance to an officer than they are free to open fire. I guess when you stop to think about it there is a certain air of stupidity to a thought process like that because whose gonna bust out the measuring tape? :ponder:

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby TacticsPT » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:04 am

tpspastin#9 wrote:So basicly it doesn't matter what happens just as long as you can speak well? :P Just kidding.

I remember one of the officer's teaching my PF class talking about the lethal line, a distance which basically interprited as if the assailant crosses a line that brigns them within a certain distance to an officer than they are free to open fire. I guess when you stop to think about it there is a certain air of stupidity to a thought process like that because whose gonna bust out the measuring tape? :ponder:


Wow really, you had a police officer tell you that there was "a line" and once crossed he/she was free to shoot? get your money back!

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby TacticsPT » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:19 am

gotchya wrote:To what degree do you think officer ability enters into the IMIM, seeing how it works based largely on officer perception?


Ability counts for a lot, but ability is a personal thing, most people think they are better than they actually are. They take a few safe ninja lessons that work on the well padded floor in teh well lit dojo and have plenty of warning of the attack and rehearsed the moves in advance. Perception is coloured by many things includeing personal skill, experience in handling situations, how you feel that day. The list can be endless, studies are also now pointing to genitics as a large factor in how things are percieved.

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby TacticsPT » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:20 am

ASGPS Sheriff wrote:Also with all the other things mentioned put something in between you and the assailant.


Yeah, like mutiple rounds to center mass

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby Bitterman » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:20 am

What's that line about bringing a knife to a gun fight...?

I'd argue a knife is just as bad or wose a mechanism to cause injury.
If someone threatens with a knife... Light 'em up I say.
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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby bigbadjoe108 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:58 am

Bitterman wrote:What's that line about bringing a knife to a gun fight...?

I'd argue a knife is just as bad or wose a mechanism to cause injury.
If someone threatens with a knife... Light 'em up I say.

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Re: Lethal Force With Edge/Sharp Weapons

Postby Dave Brown » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:22 am

TacticsPT wrote:
tpspastin#9 wrote:I remember one of the officer's teaching my PF class talking about the lethal line, a distance which basically interprited as if the assailant crosses a line that brigns them within a certain distance to an officer than they are free to open fire.


Wow really, you had a police officer tell you that there was "a line" and once crossed he/she was free to shoot? get your money back!


I agree. You need to get your money back. It is teaching like this that gives a bad name to police foundations courses everywhere.

Or maybe you misinterpreted what they were trying to say. (Apparently, that has happened a time or two in Police Foundations courses ... as some of our long-term members of this forum can attest ...)

Just remember that the officer's perception of the situation is EVERYTHING. This is why it is so important to articulate. Unlike in the use of reasonable force, in deadly force situations the officer's BELIEF as to the situation can actually trump the true FACTS of the situation.

Let's say an officer responds to an armed robbery in progress and observes a subject matching the description running out the door of a bank with a bag of money in one hand and a gun in the other. The officer takes cover, considers their backstop and location of cover officers and decides to challenge the subject. The subject turns and points the gun at the officer. The officer fires and the subject goes down.

The officer needs to articulate why they believed human life was in immediate danger; why they believed the subject had the means and the intent to take that life, and why they believed there was no other reasonable alternative. The justification is then decided based on those beliefs and how the officer was able to articulate them.

Now let's say they recovered the subject's gun and it was found to be a replica firearm. Even though the FACTS of the situation are that there was no threat to life, there was no means to take that life and there were lots of reasonable alternatives, it does NOT CHANGE THE LEGAL JUSTIFICATION. No one can determine real versus replica in a dynamic situation like this, nor are they expected to.

(Heck, I am probably about as much an expert on replica firearms as any other single person in Canada ... and I couldn't tell from several feet away ... much less in a dynamic situation where it is pointed at me and I know I am already behind the action/reaction curve to save my life.)

This is why there is no magical "line" out there. Go to my above post and re-read element #5 that must be in place in order to justify deadly force in Canada. In certain situations, an assailant standing 10 feet away from an officer threatening them with a knife may involve tactical repositioning, cover, backup and many of the options that have been discussed in this thread. On the other hand, an assailant 30 feet away and running headlong toward an officer with a sharpened screwdriver may not allow ANY of the above options.

In life-and-death situations, we need to keep it SIMPLE, and you need to be mindful of the legal elements that MUST be in place. As you already surmised, no one has time to take out a tape measure.

The human brain has the amazing ability to process all this information in a fraction of a second, but that fraction of a second will then be analyzed after the fact by thousands of people for many years, all with the ability of hindsight. Know the law, get something between you and the assailant, and always remember the number one rule of police work.


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