28 August 2014

A Further Note on "Contagious Shooting"

In my recent history of "Contagious Shooting," I suggested that mechanical metaphors would be mobilized in media discourse to shape further public attitudes about the physiological nature of police over-reaction. Yesterday, Joel F. Shults, writing in The Washington Post, delivered this fine nugget:

Brain processes take time and often move slower than reality. A study published in 2003 showed that it takes a shooter about one-third of a second to recognize a threat, then each trigger pull takes one-tenth of a second. But the mental process of deciding to stop shooting takes longer than the decision to shoot. The result is that another two or three shots can be fired as the senses, brain, nerves, and muscles put on the brakes. In other words, an officer can execute several trigger pulls after a visual input indicates a subject is no longer a threat.

Further, multiple shots don’t guarantee that a person will not continue to advance or attack. And it can take over a second for a body to fall to the ground after being fatally shot. This leaves even more time for shots to be fired before an officer’s finger stops pulling the trigger.

In total, whatever happened in Ferguson likely happened in the time it takes to sing the first four words of the national anthem – and the officer was forced to make quick decisions to keep up.

Take a look at the study. Just do it.

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