Tags: Ferguson in Crisis | ferguson | police | lethal | guns | Alternative Ballistics

Ferguson Cops Training to Use Non-Lethal First Bullet

Image: Ferguson Cops Training to Use Non-Lethal First Bullet
(Michael B. thomas/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 07:32 AM

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are training to use a device that can be attached to a regular service revolver and is intended to make the first bullet discharged non-lethal, The Washington Post reported.

The attachment, marketed by Alternative Ballistics, shoots a projectile the size of a pingpong ball that is intended to immobilize but not kill a person, even at close range. Alternative Ballistics executive Christian Ellis said he bought the patent for the device from a retired sheriff's officer, according to the Post.

It is part of a growing arsenal of weapons — from the Taser to rubber bullets — that are not supposed to be lethal.

It is not clear whether the device would have allowed Officer Darren Wilson to subdue Michael Brown without killing him.

Ferguson Assistant Police Chief Al Eickhoff, who joined the force just days before the incident, speculates that a single-shot blunt-force projectile might not have made any difference.

"You could still shoot him with this round," said Eickhoff, "and he could still get up and come at you," the Post reported.

Brown was shot by at least six bullets and was likely felled by one that struck him in the head.

Ferguson began training a few officers with the device this week, and plans to introduce it to its entire 55-member force. It is intended to be used when police need to shoot to save themselves or others.

Recent police killings of unarmed African-Americans, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, shot as he was playing with a pellet gun, have put pressure on law enforcement to come up with better alternatives to deadly force.

Eickhoff tested the device and liked it because he said it gave cops a way to avoid taking a life.

A company video shows the equipment propelling a round metal bullet-capture device — that looks like an orange pingpong ball — with the power to incapacitate but not break the skin. So far no person has been shot by the Alternative.

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, an Iraq war veteran, tested the device. He has called upon federal law-enforcement agencies to give "close consideration" to an Alternative-like device.

If the projectile does not take down the target, the next round chambered is a standard lethal bullet.

Critics say that in split-second situations cops could lose valuable time affixing the Alternative to their guns. "What bothers me is we will allow an officer to face immediate deadly jeopardy with a less-lethal round. Deadly force is the most likely thing to repel deadly force," Steve Ijames, a former Missouri police major and training expert, told the Post.

Eickhoff said he doesn't think the device will be appropriate in all situations where deadly force is called for.

"It's not a catch-all. Every situation is different," he said. "But it gives an officer, if time allows — and that's important, if time allows — a chance to save a life instead of taking a life."

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Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are training to use a device that can be attached to a regular service revolver and is intended to make the first bullet discharged non-lethal, The Washington Post reported.
ferguson, police, lethal, guns, Alternative Ballistics
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2015-32-04
Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 07:32 AM
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