Tulsa Police officers shot a man Wednesday they said charged at them with a knife.
Police said they ordered the man to drop the knife several times, but he refused and then they tased him twice, but he kept coming at them, so they shot him.
Lieutenant Virgil Litterell is an expert in use of force and trains Tulsa Police Officers on how to deal with these exact situations. He said the first goal is to always create distance between the officer and the person and next, if possible, to use a non-lethal weapon. He said if they get too close, however, officers must do what they have to do to protect themselves and everyone else around.
"Getting a slice across my arm, that severs my tendon, affects my ability to use my hand the rest of my life," said Lt. Litterell. “Maybe it slices right across my neck, maybe it stabs right in a part of my body that’s not protected by a part of my vest, and I die from it."
Litterell said dealing with a suspect with a knife, can be just as dangerous as dealing with someone who has a gun. He said people always ask, "why didn't you just tase them?" if they are coming at you with a knife.
"Relying on a taser, to protect you from that, you are not given the option or opportunity, for if it doesn't work, to have time to use lethal force as a back up at that close,” said Lt. Litterell.
Litterell said tasers are only effective from about 7 to 15 feet and the prongs need to hit two different parts of the body. He said officers are taught the 21 foot rule, which means the average person can make it 21 feet to officers, which is the same amount it takes for an officer to draw their gun and shoot.
He said at that point, it's too late. When asked "why not shoot the suspect in the leg," Litterell said limbs are harder targets to hit and if they miss, they could injure someone nearby.
"Someone gets shot in the leg, it doesn't mean it's going to stop them from coming towards me,” said Lt. Litterell. "We are going to talk to them, as long as it takes, to try to talk them into complying, surrendering, so we don't have to use force. I don't know any police officers that are psychopaths personally. Nobody wants to use their gun to shoot someone. Nobody wants to do that."
Police say the man who was shot by officers Wednesday is expected to survive.