You might remember officer C.W. Jensen from the World's Wildest Police Videos TV series a few years back. He still does some TV work out in Portland, Oregon. Here's an excerpt about the real-life shooting he was involved in a number of years ago:
When I was a young cop, another officer and I shot and killed a crook who, at knifepoint, had taken an innocent man hostage. In the seconds following our gunshots, I remember a couple of things: the smell of gunpowder, and being totally stunned by what had happened. ... It’s awful. It’s shocking. It’s not like TV. ...
After a shooting, officers are doing the best they can. They are dealing with physiological and emotional responses they’ve never imagined. They are trying to make sure that innocent people are safe. They are thanking God they’re safe or praying for the ambulance to come because they have been shot and are bleeding.
Being a street cop means playing a bizarre lottery every night. The overwhelming chance is that you will never have to pull that trigger, but you never know when you’ll pick the wrong number and be called to make a life-or-death decision.
I live every day with the memory of that experience almost 20 years ago. And other cops who have had to shoot someone tell me they feel the same way.
The officers involved in the recent shootings did a much better job than I did those many years ago. They fought through the shock and tried to help the suspects whose last moment on Earth was spent trying to kill them.
So do me a favor: First, thank God you don’t have the awesome and sometimes deadly responsibility that comes when you pin on a badge and holster your weapon. Then give the cops who do the benefit of the doubt. They are doing the best they can in a moment of time you never want to be a part of.