Reporter's Notebook: Why police often favor guns over Tasers
August 22nd, 2014
10:19 PM ET

Reporter's Notebook: Why police often favor guns over Tasers

There has been a lot of discussion on social media about law enforcement's use of force. There was the officer-involved shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson on August 9. Then ten days later, Kajieme Powell was fatally gunned down by St. Louis police officers.

Many have questioned why officers pulled their guns instead of using a less lethal device like pepper spray or a Taser. Experts walked us through the 21-foot rule, which is currently taught in police academies across the United States. The average assailant can run a distance of 21 feet in two seconds. That's the same amount of time it takes an officer to remove his gun from his holster and raise his weapon.

Forensic criminologist Ron Martinelli, an expert in more than 100 shooting cases, most of them officer-involved, showed us how the drill works. It revealed how little time an officer has to decide to shoot an assailant. But it also showed how the more items you add to a duty belt, the more an officer’s response time is going to be delayed, by as much as 50%.

If the officer is in close proximity to an assailant, he will likely turn to his gun because it's more effective. A Taser must be used when the assailant is more than two feet away but not more than 20 feet away in order for the two probes to launch and hit the perpetrator. Martinelli estimates the Taser has an effectiveness rate of only 60%, much of it due to operator error.

Given how little time an officer has to make a lethal force decision and the proximity these decisions often have to be made, experts say it's the reason officers often grab their gun before their Taser.

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Filed under: Law enforcement • Michael Brown • News • Reporter's Notebook • Uncategorized
August 22nd, 2014
09:45 PM ET

3 Blacks, 9 Whites on grand jury weighing Ferguson shooting case

The FBI says it has completed its work canvassing the neighborhood where unarmed black teen Michael Brown was killed. They knocked on more than 400 doors and interviewed more than 200 people, trying to get more information on what happened the day Brown was shot by officer Darren Wilson.

CNN is also learning about the racial makeup of the grand jury hearing this case.

St. Louis County Circuit Court administrator Paul Fox said there are three African-Americans - one male, two females - and nine whites - six males, three females - on the 12-member panel. There are a total of seven men and five women.

No information was given about the ages or occupations of any on the grand jury.

OutFront, President of the NAACP Cornell Williams Brooks.

Filed under: Michael Brown • NAACP • News
August 22nd, 2014
09:29 PM ET

White House: James Foley killing first ISIS terrorist attack on U.S.

The Obama administration is calling the beheading of American James Foley by ISIS a terrorist attack.

The U.S is now considering more airstrikes against Iraq and perhaps even inside Syria to stop the terror group. On Friday, One of the president's top National Security Advisers made it clear that Foley's horrific murder was an attack against all Americans.
"Clearly, the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he's an American," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said. And we see that as an attack on our country when one of our is killed like that."

Is the White House making a case for war?

OutFront, Bob Baer, a Former CIA Operative who lived and worked in Syria; and retired General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

Filed under: International • Iraq • ISIS • James Foley • Terror Attack
August 22nd, 2014
08:55 PM ET

How are cops trained for deadly force?

Nearly two weeks since the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, many questions remain about what happened the day Brown was killed.

Officials say a shot was fired inside the officer's police car and Brown was found dead 35 feet from Wilson's police car.

Michael Brown autopsies: Will they answer the critical questions?

But how does that distance factor into a police officer's decision to shoot?

CNN's Kyung Lah is OutFront.

Filed under: Law enforcement • Michael Brown
August 22nd, 2014
08:45 PM ET

ISIS wanted "Lady Al Qaeda" freed for James Foley

The Obama administration, under questioning over how it handles hostage negotiations, reiterated Friday that it will not pay ransom to terrorists groups.

"We will not provide funds for terrorist organisms," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, confirming a long-standing Washington policy amid claims from Islamic State jihadists that other countries had paid to have their nationals freed.

But in the case of James Foley, we also know that ISIS was demanding more than just money. The Islamic state also asked the United States to release a prisoner known as "Lady Al Qaeda."

Jean Casarez has more on the world's most famous female terrorist.

Filed under: International • Iraq • ISIS • James Foley • Terrorism
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