ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - A series of police shootings has some people asking why officers don`t use Tasers more? Others have asked, 'why not shoot a suspect in the leg' rather than aiming for the chest of someone with a knife.
To get answers, I reached out to a police officer who once disarmed a shooter outside of a former cell phone store in North St. Louis County. I reported on the case, back in 2011. The suspect came out shooting and Officer Jamal Dunn was standing in the line of fire. Dunn did not shoot back, instead he yelled `drop it` and the suspect did.
Dunn worked for Country Club Hills Police at the time. He now patrols for St. Ann. Dunn said, 'It`s crazy how this job, one second everything`s fine and the next you`re talking to Detectives because you`ve just been involved in a shooting.'
Dunn describes his Taser as an indispensable weapon to protect himself, but not always feasible.
He explained, 'When adrenaline`s going, when fists are flying, you don`t always have that perfectly controlled environment to aim that shot, put that Taser dot there and pull that trigger and have both of those darts hit on both corners of the body that makes it most effective.'
Dunn said 'I`ve seen people rip Tasers out of their skin and continue to fight.' He added, 'I`ve seen them when they`re high on something like PCP or heroin and it doesn`t work.'
Officer Dunn is not making a judgment about any specific publicized case, such as this St. Louis Metropolitan Police shooting of a man holding a knife. Dunn says every situation is different, but he described a combative suspect with something in their hand, as a potentially deadly threat. He explained, 'Something that could cause you serious physical injury or death, if struck in the wrong place then, I mean you have to meet that threat with an equal threat.' Reporter Hayes asked, 'I hear a lot of people say, why not shoot them in the leg?' Dunn answered, 'Well that`s just totally contrary to, I can`t say every Police Department, but every Police Department that I know is taught to stop the threat. We`re taught to aim for the critical area of the body, the critical areas of the body that will make you stop.' He added, 'I would invite them to try to hit a small leg, with their adrenaline at a thousand, with that person moving and their life`s in danger.'
In a confrontation, Dunn says his training will prepare him for the right tool to use.
Dunn said, 'I`m thinking about my kids, I`m thinking about my wife, I`m thinking about my family and I`m thinking about the fact that when I woke up, they expected me to come home.'
So that leaves the question, why didn`t Dunn take out the suspect who was shooting at him back in 2011? Dunn gave one compelling reason. He said innocent people surrounded the suspect.
Also, after the August 19th police shooting of a suspect with a knife, St. Louis Police Chief Dotson and Mayor Slay immediately addressed the public. You can see their response, at the time, here.