When can a police officer use deadly force?

When is it appropriate for officers to use deadly force?
Published: Aug. 13, 2014 at 7:12 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2014 at 3:25 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Major Billy Mixon with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center tells me police officers throughout the state are trained to draw their weapons any time they feel they are in imminent danger.

Mixon explains,"The use of force in general, we can define it in a classroom, but only the officer at that moment in that particular event can decide what is the appropriate level of force based on his perception of the threat."

Mixon, who manages the Columbus branch of the Georgia Police Academy says Georgia police officers go through an 11 week basic training course that teaches police essentials such as ethics and professionalism, and spans to use of force, which can sometimes turn deadly.

"We don't shoot to kill. We shoot to stop," Mixon says.

It's a force that was used recently, in Ferguson, Mo. Witnesses say an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a police officer. Sending a wave of fear as far as the Fountain City.

Former Columbus NAACP president Nate Sanderson explains, "Any person losing their life unwantedly is a tragedy, but especially when you have a person that has sworn to uphold and defend the freedoms that we enjoy."

Lt. Wynn with the Columbus Police Department tells me a force continuum is put in place to prevent officers from using force unless it is necessary. He says officers train to use their presence first to discourage actions, followed by verbal commands, and should only use lethal or deadly force when they feel their life is in danger.

Mixon says that when considering the reasons behind any officer's behavior you question, put yourself in their shoes.

He adds,"these officers are at the fore front, and they're hit with some incredibly difficult situations that they have to make split second decisions on."

Mixon adds that each time an officer fires his weapon, an after investigation is done to determine the facts surrounding the incident. And to determine the objective reasonable behind why the officer felt the need to do what he or she did.

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