Why Police Fire At Targets Multiple Times

Michael Brown, Ferguson County, and ‘Black Lives Matter’ are in the news again, and there are a couple misconceptions about police conduct and police weapons that need to be dispelled – that a lethal shot is instantly lethal (like in the movies) and that stun guns and tasers should be as effective as guns at subduing attackers; both are false.

Often it takes multiple shots, even if the shots are lethal, to subdue a large attacker, especially one who is high on stimulants like amphetamine and cocaine. Epinephrine, when secreted from the adrenal gland (or from a drug) into the bloodstream, rapidly prepares the body for action in emergency situations. The hormone boosts the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles, making the attacker stronger, while suppressing other non-emergency bodily processes such as digestion. Death from blood loss from a lethal shot is not instant, and an attacker high on Epinephrine can remain combative even after considerable blood volume has been lost. That’s why multiple shots are needed, because one doesn’t kill fast enough. If an attacker is wielding a knife and charges at an offer, or worse, the attacker who is on drugs and in enraged state is reaching for the offer’s gun, the officer either must shoot as many times as necessary to subdue the target or try to run away and risk dying, and this decision must be made in seconds; the officer, who is in a fight or flight situation, doesn’t have the luxury of time to contemplate how the PC media will later interpret his actions. And in a life or death situation, when you reach for your holster, you want a gun, not a taser.

In Summary:

1) Stopping power of a handgun is FAR less than the stopping power of most rifles. This isn’t Hollywood, when you shoot someone with a smaller caliber handgun, they don’t go flying and then instantly die. A lot of times, they’ll run, fight, get away until the wound catches up with them later

2) In a high stress situation (flight or flight), you can squeeze off 5-6 rounds before you even realize it. This is only mitigated through high stress training, otherwise everyone is guilty of it

3) When you shoot to stop a threat, you shoot to stop the threat, not just hope the person won’t attack again. The US police are famous for firing hundreds of rounds when only are a few are generally needed (source: Dorner manhunt) but that’s because most police officers aren’t trained as highly as they would like to think. Police don’t shoot to wound. If you decide to pull a trigger and shoot someone, you always aim center mass (unless the person has body armor on) and you shoot until the threat is neutralized (not just wounded).


Because, despite his wounds, Brown continued to approach Wilson in what he claims was an aggresive manner. Brown had already attacked the officer and attempted to steal his firearm. The officer, who claims he was afraid for his life, shot the aggressor in an attempt to subdue him meanwhile demanding he stop moving towards Wilson. Brown, who Wilson claims already put him in a life or threat state moments earlier, continued to approach the armed policer officer. Despite putting rounds of ammunition into Brown, he continued to disobey and continued to approach the armed officer.

Source: Why did Officer Wilson shoot Michael Brown after he’d already been wounded?

Related (from Fred Reed): Some Things Detwaddled- Cops, Race, Reporters