Let’s get two things clear from the start. One: a CCW permit doesn’t make you a police officer or give you police powers. This is big, so make sure you remember that.
The second thing is: Police are charged with using necessary force to take someone into custody or to stop a violent criminal. Civilians are limited to equal force to defend ourselves and prevent a violent criminal from harming people we choose to protect. While there are lessons we can learn from the police, sometimes they focus on what not to do as a CCW holder.
Take the Akron Beacon Journal story, “Reserve Officer Is Investigated,” published 21 Oct 2011.
The off-duty reserve officer saw a four young adults drinking in a car. He attempts to take them into custody, they rabbit, but he’s got a grip on the steering wheel or the driver and gets dragged 100 feet until he lets go. He’s injured (I’m trying to take out all the adjectives that color the story), but he gets to his feet , draws his weapon and attempts to shoot the driver, through the back window, to stop the potential danger to the public at large. I want to note the officer was aware of the two females in the back seat. Fortunately nobody was killed.
Now, there is a special relationship which exists between the prosecutor and the police which will never exist for civilians. Simply put, without police cooperation the sound you hear is the auto destruct warning of the prosecutor’s career. And the police know that without the cooperation of the prosecutor the jail cell doors might as well be revolving.
These two entities are connected. The prosecutor will cut the police some small amount of slack that you and I are unlikely to experience.
Back to our story. The officer stopped firing as the car pulled out into cross traffic as innocent people or no-shoots got in the way.
I’m not going to rehash the entire article. I don’t trust the veracity of the news media. I wasn’t there and have no idea what the perceived or legal reality was for that officer when he pulled his weapon. I will say I suspect that if a civilian attempting to stop a drinking driver from driving by shooting through the back car window the legal outcome would be significantly different.
Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh has one good piece of advice for all armed individuals: “His use of force was acceptable since he ceased firing and innocent persons were not injured.” In other words stop shooting when you are endangering bystanders, especially when the danger to you has been removed.
One final note: the driver pleaded guilty to a felony charge of assaulting a police officer and receiving stolen property (where did that come from?). A drug and obstructing justice charges were dismissed and the city never filed drunk driving charges. The driver left court with probation and did not go to jail, did not become a guest of the state for 10 years.