Milton Hall coverage: Police trained to 'eliminate threat'
By Jonathan Lowe, TV5 Anchor, Reporter - bio | email
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
In the wake of the Milton Hall shooting, TV5 is searching for answers that may paint a clearer picture of what may have happened the day the homeless man was shot.
Monday, we took a look at police training and what role it played in that July 1 incident, offering some insight into why officers responded the way they did.
"We train in the basic police academy, if there's a threat that when we shoot, to eliminate the threat," said Mike Wiltse. Wiltse is director of public safety and training at Delta College. He helped us understand why not one, but six officers might have responded to the Riverview Plaza shopping center that day.
"With this type of call, anybody who was available went there to help," Wiltse explained.
Armed with a knife, Hall allegedly made an aggressive move at officers. They responded by shooting at least 46 shots at him. That's something many in the community have questioned.
TV'5's Jonathan Lowe asked Wiltse, "Why would you not shoot one bullet and that's it? Why do you fire and keep firing?"
Wiltse explained, "Our research has shown us that one bullet will not stop the threat."
Some have questioned why officers didn't just shoot Hall in the leg or arm. Wiltse says officers are taught extremities are way harder to hit.
"When you're in a high stress situation and you're adrenaline is going, it's extremely difficult."
Instead, recruits learn, "We shoot center mass, meaning the center portion of our body," Wiltse says.
Wiltse says the training is less about shooting to kill and more about eliminating a threat. And once that's done, officers still must do something that sounds counterintuitive.
"Its very strange talking to a classroom about, for one second, you want to shoot to eliminate this threat, which means somebody could die, and then once the threat is gone our job is to serve, which means protect human life, even if its this person who just threatened us."
One other thing that those in the community have been asking is why officers didn't use a Taser, pepper spray or baton to subdue Hall. Wiltse says those tools would only be used in what's called a "non-lethal" situation. But since Hall apparently had a knife, that made the situation "lethal," and therefore required officers to use their firearms.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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