In response to the Aaron Campbell shooting, the police invited reporters out last Friday, February 19, to go through a mini version of their use-of-force training. From shooting blanks in practice scenarios, going through virtual role-playing scenarios and sitting through a Powerpoint on the effects of stress, police officers are supposed to learn when to shoot in real-life situations and when to hold their fire.
I was the first reporter to go through one of the role-playing scenarios: walking into a room with a gun loaded with blanks, I saw a guy standing with his back to me, hands up, a gun in one hand. In my most authoritative police voice, I told him to drop the gun. My heart was racing, I was nervous. "I'm the property owner!" the guy yelled over his shoulder, "Don't shoot me!" Then he turned around and shot me before I could even blink.
"Why did you have the gun aimed at the floor?" asked trainer Sergeant Don Livingston afterwards. I hadn't realized I didn't even have the gun raised. "I didn't want to shoot the guy," I replied. Officers told me later that the cop almost always dies in that practice. It's a no-win situation.
I put together this little video of the training, which provides some insight on the police perspective of shooting incidents, as well as their attempts to shape the media response:
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