“I had to use deadly force…and I’m OK.” Final Installment of Post Shooting Survival Series

October 5, 2022

Editor’s note: In an effort to analyze the risks associated with tire deflation devices, PoliceOne has pulled together a group of experts to look at this issue. They are conducting a poll to help the group with this project.

From their site: “Tire deflation devices (TDD) have been used in law enforcement since the 1990s. In many cases, the deployment of TDDs has resulted in the successful termination of pursuits. Unfortunately, the deployment of TDDs has collaterally contributed to the injury and deaths of peace officers and civilians.”

They are requesting that officers complete a brief survey related to your experiences with TDDs. If you would like to participate, you can CLICK HERE to take the poll.

Continuing our Post Shooting Survival Series…

Before diving in to our last installment of this special Post Shooting Survival Series based off a chapter of the same name in Calibre Press’s bestselling book, Street Survival II: Tactics for Deadly Force Encounters, we want to share some advice sent to us by School Resource Officer Michael Kendall with the Superior (WI) PD.

He writes:

“One common reaction I have heard from several officers following an OIS is having a huge amount of energy needing to be burned off in the days following. One officer told me in the two days following his shooting he couldn’t stop walking. The day after my shooting I found myself running over 6 miles when I only went out intending to run 3. I just felt like I couldn’t stop until I had run out of steam.

“Similarly for about 4 hours after my shooting we had to wait for the various investigative steps to happen. I was ok for about the first 3 hours and then started to become seriously agitated and needed to get out and move.

“Fortunately, about the time I was going to walk out I was able to go to the scene and do a walk through with the state investigator (which triggered a bunch of other responses) and then go home.

“As advice to an officer that may be the officer under investigation or officers supporting them, I suggest letting them know to listen to their body and move at whatever their normal routine is. They need to process the stress chemicals.

“I would also suggest getting officers to walk around with someone safe while waiting for the initial investigating steps to occur (obviously after evidence, weapons, etc. have been collected).

“It’s been 4 years almost to the day and I still find small triggers happen when I don’t expect them. It is a process, though, and it doesn’t end, it just changes.”

Continuing with our series:

After a shooting, you must be mentally prepared for the following to happen:

– Your weapon will be taken as evidence.

– You will be placed on administrative leave.

– News reports will refer to the suspect as the victim.

– Someone will say or write, “Why couldn’t that officer have shot him in the leg?” or at the very least, you will be publicly second-guessed.

– After the shooting is found to be justified or defensible, someone may want to give you an award. You may feel conflicted about this.

Off-duty, make a concerted effort to maintain your normal routine. Here are some pointers:

– Avoid alcohol. You do not need a depressant right now.

– Exercise. This is a natural stress reducer. Researchers have confirmed that running, jogging, the martial arts, swimming and cycling, done 30 minutes a day, three times a week, is capable of significantly reducing depression and anxiety.

– Learn the concept of response-ability. You have the ability to respond to life’s challenges positively or negatively. As often as possible, choose to respond positively.

– Embrace those you love, often.

– Choose to savor the rest of your life like you never have before. You earned it in a most difficult way. This ability is a gift to those who choose to accept it.

– Above all, do not just sit at home by yourself, artificially isolated and brooding. Be with people. Participate in activities. Life goes on.

– Remember the simple words of a World War II veteran to a cop who had been deeply affected by a traumatic shooting incident. This veteran of Patton’s Third Army laid a hand on the officer’s shoulder and spoke the truth when he said simply but sincerely, “It gets better.” It did for that officer, and it will for you.

“I’m OK.”

It is extremely important to mention that not every officer experiences a negative emotional impact from a shooting incident. Those who can immediately put the event into proper perspective may have no unhealthy emotional effects. They may be able to honestly say, “I did what I had to do. He would have killed me or someone else. I’m glad I was there.”

A Street Survival II co-author and Calibre Press Instructor shares:

At a Street Survival Seminar, a couple walked up to me after the Emotional Survival block. The man, very tall, perhaps 6’6”, was holding hands with his wife who was no more than 5’2”. The woman was crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that the emotional survival block particularly hit home with her. “He shot and killed someone 18 months ago and we’ve been having problems ever since.”

I looked up at the officer and said, “You’re having trouble with it?”

The man’s response: “Not one little bit!”

She said, “See. That’s the problem. He doesn’t feel bad at all for killing a man. We are Catholic. I don’t understand why he doesn’t feel bad?”

Unsure of what to say, I looked up to the officer and queried, “Why do you think you’re not feeling bad?”

And that set the big guy off!

“I’ll tell you why I don’t feel bad! Because that sonofabitch comes out of a car on a simple traffic stop trying to kill me. The motherfucker! I got her and four kids at home! What’s going to happen to them if this asshole kills me? He starts shooting at me with the intent to kill, so I killed him first! His choice! End of story!”

I looked at the woman and said, “Seems OK to me!”

She responded, “Yeah, that’s what the counselor said.”

“You went to a counselor?” I asked incredulously.

“Yeah. But it seems to me he should feel bad. We’re Catholic. Thou shall not kill is a commandment.

The cop just rolled his eyes, and they walked off. The last thing I heard was the man saying to the wife, “Told ‘ya.”

In another example, a suspect shot multiple rounds at an officer and his fellow officers. The officer returned fire, seriously wounding the suspect. The suspect then killed himself. After the incident, his department sent the officer to a family psychologist, not a law enforcement psychologist.

The psychologist met with and initially cleared the officer to return to duty, However, after a day or so, the psychologist felt the heavy liability he had taken on and actually asked the officer and his wife to come back. The psychologist told the officer he had been thinking about the case, had talked to colleagues and was not comfortable with one thing in particular. He wanted to know why the officer felt no remorse for shooting another human being.

The officer honestly said he had no remorse and never would. He said, “I did what I had to do, and I don’t feel that I did anything wrong. The suspect brought this on himself. The suspect decided how that ended. If I had not stopped him someone was going to get shot.”

The psychologist asked the officer if he was having any negative emotional reactions to the shooting and the officer replied that he was not. He was sleeping and eating OK and felt fine. He said, “I just did what I needed to do, and I don’t feel bad about it.”

When the officer’s wife said, “He has been good since the shooting. What if he is just fine with it?”

The psychologist said, “Oh, no. You see, it’s a beach ball under water. Eventually it’s going to come up.”

The psychologist then implied that he was afraid that the officer would now be more apt to shoot someone again, maybe even without just cause. It was evident that the psychologist did not want to be the one with the final signature that the officer was good to return to duty.

The officer’s department realized what was happening and sent him to a specialist in law enforcement shootings for a second, more expert opinion. This expert psychologist re-examined the officer. He concluded it was not always the case that officers experienced ill effects after a shooting, particularly in this case where the fellow officers were so imminently threatened by the suspect. In fact, the officer was given encouragement for his positive, realistic mindset and cleared to return to work immediately.

The bottom line is that not every officer who has to fire a weapon at a dangerous suspect will be negatively impacted. When asked how they are doing, some officers will answer truthfully, “I’m OK.”

Have you had a shooting experience that yielded post shooting survival advice or insights you would like to share with other officers? If so, please e-mail us at: editor@calibrepress.com.

* Full confidentiality can be granted if you would like to share your insights but remain anonymous.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3


Hailed by tens of thousands of officers as the most iconic, relevant and life-saving training guide in law enforcement history!

382 pgs., 19 chapters, Available in both soft cover and hard cover.


1. Preparation for Confrontation

2. Approach to Danger: People

3. Approach to Danger: Buildings

4. Approach to Danger: Vehicles

5. Shooting Positions

6. Cover Awareness

7. Reloading Under Fire

8. Final Approach and Subject Control

9. Post Shooting Survival

10. Deadly Force: Know the Law!

11. Communication During Force Encounters

12. Danger Cues and Pre-Attack Indicators

13. In the Fight: Stress, Surprise and Performance

14. Engaging and Defeating the Active Shooter/Killer

15. Edged Weapons

16. Lights and Lasers

17. Firearms Discipline

18. Protective Equipment

19. Fitness in Law Enforcement

Final thoughts: Guardian or Warrior?


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