Originally Posted by WilliamDahl
In other words, what comes out your barrel has to end up somewhere
. Bullets don't just magically turn to dust and stop when they hit a wall or the street. They can fragment and those fragments might end up in a place that it might be preferred that they not end up. We like to say that you should be sure of your target and your backstop when you are shooting at something, but sometimes, all the choices available to you are not good. If the cops didn't shoot, they're in danger of being shot by the guy who quickly turned around and pointed the handgun towards them. There's also the chance that anyone behind the cops could have been shot. Now, an argument could be made that the cops posed more danger to the surrounding people than the original assailant did due to the larger number of round that they carried and subsequently shot, but no one in their right mind is going to let the other guy get the first shot in a situation like this before returning fire.
OK, technically, if the other person hasn't already shot, I guess it's not returning
Just to play devils advocate, couldn't we make the argument that the police choosing to take the suspect down in a crowded area as they did actually posed more danger to the public than did the original shooting? If I remember correctly, the guy was only there to shoot a couple of people with whom he had a dispute, not to go on a shooting spree and harm the general public. After he shot the two people he was after, he would have left. However, the police showed up and engaged in a gunfight with the suspect in a crowded street outside the Empire State Building, which greatly increased the amount of bullets flying through the air and as a result also increased very significanly the danger to the general public. Of course, The responding officers most certainly would not have known what the suspect's intentions were and therefore thought it best to try and neutralize the suspect immediately. After all, he had just shot two people. However, I think the shootout between the police and suspect undeniably had the result of placing the people in the area in greater danger than the original shooting did. The police could not possibly have known this at the time and therefore could not be expected to have considered it, but that's what happened.
Just putting that out there.