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Ferguson Shooting: Why did the officer not shoot Brown in the legs?


30 Nov 2014

My original Facebook post has gone viral:

Slightly edited version:

Many people innocently ask why Officer Wilson did not shoot Michael Brown in the legs. The answer could stretch for pages.  More succinctly, a couple handfuls of reasons:

1) This ain’t the movies

2) Most police do not fire their weapons much. Most are not great shots.

3) The officer would have to be an incredible shot to be crazy enough to fire wounding shots.

4) Nearly all firefights are “stress shoots.” The other guy is moving. Heart pounding. Often breathless. Officer Wilson in Ferguson had just been punched in the face during a wrestling match for his pistol, according to Wilson.

5) Bullets that miss can hit someone else.

6) You always are low on ammo.  Do not waste a single bullet.

7) Time spent reloading is dangerous

8) I have seen many people shot who kept fighting. Shot with weapons far more powerful than any officer’s pistol. Many police and combat troops have seen this and will verify.

9) Police and Soldiers never train to shoot to wound. (None that I know of.) Technically, officers will say they shoot to stop the threat but this is legal semantics.  They are trained to fire center mass.  All combat shots are center mass of any hittable part of the target. If you see only a foot, shoot the foot. If you see a chest — aim for the middle.  If the officer is pointing his pistol at someone, he is one click away from going lethal to stop the threat. There is no in between. I have never seen a target at any military, police or civilian range, that designates legs as a target.

10) This ain’t the movies.

During the firefight at the link below, I was photographing when two people were shot a total of seven times. Two men, shot seven times. The US Soldier was shot three times.  The al Qaeda man was hit four times with an M4 at point blank.

After the US Soldier was hit three times in front of me, he continued to fight well and fire at the al Qaeda, who was also shooting back.  

Soon, another US Soldier joined battle and hit the al Qaeda terrorist four times from just a few feet away.  The al Qaeda man was still standing trying to shoot. One shot took off a testicle.  The M4 held by the US Soldier ran out of ammo.  Our Soldier dropped the M4 and tackled the al Qaeda man. Despite being hit four times, al Qaeda man then engaged in aggressive hand to hand combat.  I must grudgingly give the al Qaeda man credit.  He fought very well even when badly shot.

Again, this ain’t the movies. When officers or troops shoot, they must shoot center mass, or to kill.  

Some people may say there are no comparisons between combat in war, and police combat.  Ballistics and bodies are the same.  The idea of shooting someone in the legs or hands is a western movie fairytale.  

See the bullets fly and the men fight:

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Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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