Allow us to give you some answers to the internet’s question of “why don’t police shoot people in the leg?”
When it comes to policing, there are all sorts of questions asked by civilians in a use-of-force incident. The most popular question asked in any type of officer involved shooting is “why don’t police shoot people in the leg?”
This question has recently gained quite a bit of popularity after the Huntington Beach police shooting the other day. The internet threw a fit after a Huntington Beach Police officer shot and killed a suspect on video. The initial video released, like most videos like this, only showed a small part of the incident.
In the longer version of the video, the officer can be seen deploying his Taser. It also shows him fight the suspect for over a minute before discharging his weapon. At one part of the video, he can be heard saying “let go of my gun”.
The officer creates distance and puts shots into the threat until the threat goes down. This is where the million dollar question comes into play.
Why don’t police shoot people in the legs
Reason 1: A leg shot can just as easily kill a person.
A leg, like most of your body, has blood in it. This blood is inside arteries like the gigantic one running through both legs.
Our friend and firefighter/EMT Colt Roy over at SConfire explains it like this:
As far as shooting someone in the leg, that is the place where the largest artery in the body bifurcates and runs alongside the largest bone in the body which is held under tremendous pressure by the largest muscles in the body. Even if you were to miss the femoral artery with the bullet, even a glancing blow to the femur could cause razor-sharp bone fragments (along with razor-sharp bullet jacket fragments) to effortlessly shred the femoral artery causing a very rapid and life-threatening loss of blood. A direct hit to the femur will cause it to shatter and collapse (remember the tension from the largest muscles in the body?) which could cause death to follow very quickly. An arterial bleed is very hard to treat and without advanced care, room temperature could be assumed very quickly.
Just in case you don’t believe us, here is a video of police officers shooting a guy in the leg. Spoiler alert: he dies within a few minutes.
Reason 2: It’s hard as hell to make that shot.
Trying to shoot a leg that is moving very quickly that is attached to a person who wants to kill you is nearly impossible. If you do manage to shoot them in the leg, see reason 1.
Reason 3: A leg shot doesn’t mean the threat will go down.
A person hopped up on adrenaline is hard to kill. Now imagine they are high. There are dozens of cases of people being shot in the head, chest, legs, etc.. and still posing a threat. One popular story that is circulated through the law enforcement community is the story of Sergeant Timothy Gramins.
Gramins’ got into a gunfight with a suspect and shot him 14 times with .45 before the guy dropped. The suspect took 6 fatal shots and kept on shooting.
Reason 4: Shooting center mass works better
Center mass ( the middle of the torso) is the spot that police are trained to shoot. A large target = less likely to miss and hit the old lady across the street. A nice, big, fleshy chest is also more likely to catch that bullet and reduce the chances of over-penetration.
As we said before, shooting a moving leg will cause you to miss more than likely. This results in a bullet that travels god knows where.
It’s dumb to shoot people in the leg.
If you were too lazy to read this, just watch me explain it below:
If you still don’t believe me, here is a great big study about this topic by people who are probably much smarter than I am