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Police run metro Atlanta media through use-of-force gamut

LAWRENCEVILLE -- One broadcast reporter killed a shotgun-wielding (and simulated) young girl.

Another gunned down a sleeveless biker, who'd feigned reaching for his driver's license and whipped out a handgun.

Yet another donned what looked like riot gear, endured jabs from a knife that delivers electric shocks, then shot her role-playing perp with paint pellets.

All the simulated violence, Gwinnett police officials pointed out, was legally justified, and it's the sort of split-second twists of fate they could be faced with every day.

In the wake of high-profile, police-involved shootings, Gwinnett police on Friday hosted a media session to outline their protocol in violent situations, expose reporters to hands-on training and illustrate the limitations of Tasers and other non-lethal force.

"I think the (recent incidents) make it a good time to open up the door, to facilitate (the session)," said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith.

Some reporters seemed genuinely dejected by mistakes they'd made in a firearms-training simulator, like one woman who downed a hostage. An officer fresh from the training academy endured the requisite five-second exposure to a Taser to illustrate its debilitating effects.

"I'm feeling good now -- not a few seconds ago," said the Tasered rookie, Alexandru Donisa, 26, of Dacula. "My entire back locked up."

In recent months, Gwinnett police have employed the deadly force in question in three separate incidents. Officers were placed on standard administrative leave in each case, pending internal investigations.

Most recently, two officers fatally fired on a suicidal Lawrenceville man who reportedly yelled threats and came at them with a Remington .270 deer rifle.

In January, multiple officers opened fire on a burglary and car theft suspect who rammed a stolen truck into several police cars in Stone Mountain. Police had busted a truck window and tried unsuccessfully to Taser the 24-year-old suspect before shooting him multiple times, authorities said.

Two officers fatally shot a mentally unstable teenager near Buford who had charged at them with a machete in December. The 15-year-old was struck five times in his grandmother's driveway.

Cpl. Larry Stone, the department's Taser coordinator, said the totality of circumstances is key in every police-involved shooting, and that the public sometimes has unreasonable expectations for police based on what they've seen on television.

"When you walk out of here, I hope you realize that Hollywood is Hollywood," Stone told a dozen media members on hand. "We make these decisions sometimes in less than a second."

Comments

pcjohn 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure the recruit who was "tased" had two or more weightlifter cops behind him to prevent any injury to this new nugget in their gang. Now contrast that to using that lethal device on an unarmed citizen who falls down and flops around on concrete and get his head banged around and then are subject to the thugs trying to break his back with their knee stomos.

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