Sheriff concerned about 'minimum force' bill in Assembly
Submitted by Howard Owens on May 25, 2010 - 5:11pm
Sheriff Gary Maha calls a pending Assembly bill which would require cops to shoot a suspect only to wound him -- presumably aiming for an arm or a leg -- "ridiculous."
The so-called "minimum force" bill says, "(a peace officer or police officer) uses such force with the intent to stop, rather than kill, the person who he or she reasonably believes is using unlawful force, and uses only the minimal amount of force necessary to effect such stop."
No shooting course teaches law enforcement officers to aim at limbs, Maha noted.
The first job of a cop in a dangerous situation is to protect himself and the people he's sworn to serve, Maha said.
"Deadly physical force, under the (current) law, can only be used as a last resort, under extreme circumstances," Maha told WBTA. "You're going to put more pressure on the officer if he has to shoot to wound. You're putting that officer in jeopardy."
Under provisions of the bill, any officer accused of shooting to kill another person in the line of duty would be charged with manslaughter.
The bill is sponsored by Annette Robinson (D-Bedford Stuyvesant) and Darryl Towns (D-East New York).
While the "minimum force" bill hasn't died, it is languishing in committee and is still drawing reaction from New York's law enforcement community.
A New York detective told the New York Post that the bill would create a situation where cops are expected to shoot the gun out of the hands of suspect, while the criminal would still be firing with the intent to kill. It's been called the "John Wayne" bill because it requires a level of accuracy only seen in Hollywood Westerns.
"These are split-second, spontaneous events -- and officers have to make a full assessment in a fraction of a second," said an angry Michael Paladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association.
The bill was drafted in response to the shooting death of Sean Bell, a man who was killed by police following a fight at a strip club where he was celebrating his bachelor party. An undercover officer reportedly heard Bell say at some point that he had a gun. In the melee that followed, Bell reportedly slammed his Nissan into a police vehicle.
Photo: File photo of Sheriff Gary Maha.