Atlanta Shooting | Tunnel Vision
The recent police shooting in Atlanta is making the rounds, with abundant analysis and opinions.
This shooting was captured on multiple cameras, and pieced together to give a timeline. Officers decide to arrest an impaired driver. The subject then resists arrests, which quickly becomes assaulting police officers and taking their TASER.
The subject begins fleeing, with one officer in pursuit on foot. As the subject turns around and presents the TASER towards the officer, the officer shoots the subject who dies shortly thereafter.
A consideration I have in watching this video is the value of retention lanyards on a TASER. The TASER is a weapon that can be used during a spectrum of force scenarios and it’s not uncommon to see it come out during an arrest which is this volatile.
With that, the likelihood that control of a TASER is lost during such an arrest is high. Officers and agencies may want to consider a detachable lanyard to ensure that if the TASER is relinquished – that decision is made by the officer, not for the officer.
In the video that appears to be an security camera in the Wendy’s parking lot, the officer who ends up shooting Rayshard Brooks is shown running into a car.
That alone doesn’t justify the shooting, but I believe it sheds light on the mental state of the officer while in pursuit.
Prior to the shooting, the officer is involved in a physical fight with the subject. This is sure to cause a spike in his heart rate and will induce survival stress reaction. One of the results of this physiological certainty is tunnel vision.
That is, the brain begins prioritizing what is perceived to be the threat in a hyper focused way. The benefit is that the brain will be able to track and respond to the threat quicker. The cost is in both peripheral acuity and cognitive function. Humans in this state are surviving, not thinking.
When Mr. Brooks turns around and presents the TASER towards the officer, my assessment is that the officer is now in a tunneled state. The officer is hyper focused on the weapon. Although it’s not ideal, the poor training standards present in the law enforcement industry provide no expectation that an officer will overcome this reality.
As is clear in the video – the officer runs directly into a car while the final engagement occurs. If that isn’t a demonstration in survival stress reaction + tunnel vision – I don’t know what is.