LAPD’s shooting policy was thrust into the spotlight this week following an incident Thursday when a newspaper delivery woman and her 71-year-old mother suffered gunshot wounds in a case of mistaken identity during a frantic manhunt for an apparently disgruntled ex-police officer.
"We shoot to stop, and the incident where officers perceive their lives are in danger," Sgt. Rudy Lopez with LAPD told NBC4 on Friday.
The women were fired upon as they delivered newspapers in Torrance near the home of a high-ranking police officer named in Christopher Dorner’s manifesto – an 11,000-word document that appears to lay out a revenge-motivated plan targeting law enforcement and their families.
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About two blocks away and 25 minutes after the women were shot, police officers opened fire on another innocent driver traveling in a truck that vaguely matched Dorner’s.
If nothing else, the incidents demonstrate what will likely be a massive police response if Dorner engages his former colleagues.
This week, NBC4 had a chance to go through video-scenario training with SWAT Officer Charlton Vidal, of the Glendale Police Department.
He explained what officers call “shooting to stop,” rather than "shooting to kill."
"We’re trained to stop," Vidal said. "A shot in the leg, a shot in the arm, is not gonna stop the threat. A shot in the torso, hopefully, stops the threat."
LAPD policy, obtained by NBC4 on Friday, outlines when officers can use deadly force: to protect themselves from death or serious bodily injury; or to prevent the escape of a violent or fleeing felon.
What happens though, police said, is that the shot to stop often centered in the torso ends up killing the suspect, even when that was not the officer’s intent.
Los Angeles police officers were on modified tactical alert Friday night as they continued searching for – and protecting themselves from – Dorner. From the rooftop, to entrances, and exits, officers are paired up and ready.