John F. French: NH needs better laws on deadly force by police officers
We commonly hear that an officer has only a split second to make the decision to shoot. I submit that the officer actually makes the decision to shoot long in advance of the incident, weighing three inputs: 1) training received, 2) state statutes justifying deadly force, and 3) individual moral or religious beliefs. When he is in a situation that matches all three of these inputs, he shoots.
RSA 627:5, section II, paragraph 1 is being used to justify shooting mentally distraught, often suicidal people, many in their own homes, others during traffic stops. It has justified the following police shootings: Charles Turcotte, Feb. 2, 2010, domestic dispute; Larry Minassian, 51, Jan, 6, 2011, suicidal person with knife (survived); Wayne Martin Jr., March 2, 2011, revocation of conditional discharge from N.H. Hospital (shot for not taking his meds); Shelly Naroian, 47, May 19, 2011, domestic dispute; Christopher D. Seksinsky, 39, June 27, 2011, domestic dispute; Alberto Pagan, 21, Oct. 22, 2011, domestic assault; Jason Lagueux, July 9, 2012, domestic disturbance; Grant Hebert, Oct. 28, 2012, motor vehicle pursuit (survived); Steve Amazeen, 45, Dec. 3, 2012, suicidal (survived); Geoffrey Bidwell 42, Jan. 6, 2013, suicidal; Christopher Varagianis, 37, June 3, 2013, motor vehicle offense (survived).
Killing is irreversible. Police need the authority to keep the peace, but our statute on the use of deadly force needs to be changed to restrict their use of deadly force to a level that reflects the non-violent reality of New Hampshire.
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