News 12 First at Five/ Friday, Feb. 1, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It can be a tricky situation to know when to use deadly force.
Officers say many times they must decide on a case-by-case basis, but there is one thing that always remains true.
"It is always a last resort. Deadly force is always a last resort," said Richmond County Sgt. Michael McDaniel.
It's a split-second decision with permanent results. That's a what law enforcement officers can face on every call.
When you never know what you're up against, McDaniel says it's always better to be ready for the worst.
"It doesn't matter what the call is -- be it a domestic, a disabled vehicle, an accident, a suspicious vehicle or suspicious person -- we are always going to think and prepare for the worst case scenario," he said.
Richmond County follows Georgia law 16-3-21 which says, "A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force."
This law applies to everyone, not just police officers.
"We're allowed to stay one step ahead of the bad guy. He already knows whether he's going to kill us," explained Waynesboro Police Chief Alfonzo Williams.
Officers say it comes down to "A-O-J."
"Ability, opportunity, jeopardy. The ability to hurt someone or me, the opportunity to hurt someone or me, and they're in jeopardy. The situation is right there. I'm faced with it right then," McDaniel said.
When an officer uses deadly force, the suspect isn't the only one who suffers.
"Even when you know it's the right thing, he's still somebody's son or somebody's daughter or somebody's father or uncle, so the officer suffers emotionally," Williams explained.
He says knowing when to act comes down to training.
"If he's had good training, he's ready," Williams said.
That's something Sheriff Richard Roundtree says Richmond County officers go through every year.
"As a police officer in the state of Georgia, you have to go through deadly force training every year. It's mandated through P.O.S.T to maintain your certification, so every certified police officer goes through that training once a year," said Sheriff Roundtree said in Friday's news conference.
Roundtree said deadly force protocol was followed in Friday's incident.
As part of standard procedure, the GBI has been called in to investigate the shooting.
They have yet to release details of the shooting, but we News 12 is expecting to learn more after Saturday morning's autopsy report is complete.