Attention Armchair Quarterbacks: This Video Shows You How Fast Police Have to Make Fatal Decisions

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Police officers clear a section of Hamline Avenue in riot gear, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

It’s one thing to do and another to critique. In the case of police, they face no end to criticism by people who will never have to do what police have to. Ironically, and somewhat sadly, they’ll never have to do it because police do it for them.

A video by a local news station a few years ago showed what it’s like to be in the shoes of a police officer in dangerous situations. Needless to say, it’s not like it is in the movies. Reality is faster, deadlier, confusing, and moreover, incredibly frightening.

Watch this video of a longtime police shooting protester and see just how fast a situation can get deadly.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone ask why police have to shoot someone, and if they do, why can’t they just wound them in the leg or arm, or try to shoot the weapon out of their hand.


Hollywood has made us ignorant. That’s not how it works in real life. According to Hollywood, knife fights look choreographed, and thrilling and explosions can happen right on top of you and you’ll survive. In truth, they’re quick, disgustingly brutal, and incredibly bloody and explosions do a lot more than shred your body with shrapnel.

Hollywood gunfights are much the same. They are done with tons of flying lead that never hits anyone until someone does a diving shot. Action heroes can hit anyone anywhere they need to with all the cool, calm composure that goes with being a badass.

The truth is, adrenaline and high-pressure situations do a lot to make you miss. When someone is bearing down on you, you have little time to decide how you’re going to react, and your self-preservation will likely take you down the path of pulling the trigger. If you don’t, you might be overpowered, have your gun taken, and your assailant probably won’t be as non-violent as you are.

What’s more, if you do pull the trigger, it’s likely you won’t be taking the time to aim carefully at a leg or an arm. In your feverish fight or flight response, you’ll begin pulling the trigger and hitting whatever you can.


Police go through a lot of training in order to respond to these moments with as much sensibility and control as possible and they still have to deal with nerves, adrenalin, and every complication imaginable during these moments. When you watch videos of police actions, it’s easy for you to sit in the comfort of your favorite chair and judge what the officer did without any of the chemicals flowing through your body. For the officer, he had a split second to decide what to do and he chose his own life and the life of his fellow officers or bystanders.

Not all police shootings are justified, but the majority of them are.

Remember that the next time you see a police officer fires his weapon. You don’t know the entire situation, you don’t know what was at stake, and chances are you’re not being given the whole story.


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