And I'd defend any such "wrongful death" lawsuit in my sleep...successfully.
There was an immediate illegal deadly danger to the officer and others. Regardless of whether New York has a duty to retreat doctrine or not it is clear that the officer could not retreat safely without at the very least leaving his family in jeopardy - maybe physically, he could not retreat at all.
I am inferring (actually speculating, but at law were I a juror I would not be allowed to do that, so I'm inferring, you understand
) that the officer's movements in drawing his gun caused the robbers to move hostilely in his direction, truncating the officer's possible effective responses, i.e., you cannot expect effective results from shouting "Halt In The Name Of The Law: I Have You Covered With My Trusty Sidearm And You Must Surrender Or You Are In Peril Of Losing Either Your Lives Or Freedom! Now, Would Either Or Both Of You Like Some Tea Before We Head To Center Street?"
In short, he could shoot...or he could die. Or watch someone else innocent die...maybe someone he loved.
As previously said, I'd be able to defend this one in my sleep, unless the officers own family got on the stand and said the two decedents were merely asking for directions, made no hostile comments or movements, had no weapons that were not later supplied post-mortem by the officer, and all entry wounds were from the back. I concede that scenario would make me need at least one cup of coffee...maybe even one of Tony's....
But one of the important facts in this story is that an experienced police officer, under stress, had no greater than a 38% accuracy rate in his shots - not the kill shots, necessarily (although since only 3 shots hit 2 robbers, it's safe to say that there were at least 2 kill shots and maybe all 3.)
Moral: you will
react as you have trained yourself (and if you haven't trained yourself, that
is how you'll react), but with far less grace, accuracy, efficiency. It's not the same as the gymnasium/classroom/laboratory/dojo/kwoon/dojang...and unless you're very
new to these Forums, that moral is something you have seen here before.
[This message has been edited by student (edited December 27, 2000).]