Officers throughout the United States and perhaps internationally have heard use of force instructors discuss the "21 Foot Rule" during their officer safety, firearms and deadly force training. As both a use of force instructor and practicing forensic police practices expert, I have also trained and testified to this concept myself.
On a hot July day, fire and police are called to the home of a 55 year old man suffering from heat stroke. Police arrive first and find the man sitting on a bench in his front yard. When the officers approach the man and ask him to give them his cane, he becomes agitated and non-compliant. One officer suddenly grabs the cane away from the man, who screams and suddenly stands up. The man is tased, taken to the ground, beaten and handcuffed. He is transported to the hospital where ER physicians confirm a diagnosis of heat stroke. The man has no criminal history. He sustains numerous moderate injuries which keep him from returning to work for several weeks. The officers and agency are sued and settle out of court.
An officer detains an active parolee gang member for questioning, and during the detention, the suspect suddenly runs. The officer chases the suspect for two blocks, observes the suspect to be grabbing into his shorts pocket.
On November 5, 2010, Superior Court Judge Hon. Robert Perry sentenced former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle to two years in state prison for the January 1,2009, accidental shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant at the Fruitdale BART station.
San Francisco Police officers respond to a call of an agitated mentally disturbed and disabled man in a wheelchair wielding a knife and vandalizing parked cars on a downtown city street. A group of at least six uniformed and plain clothes officers locate and surround the man who remains seated in his wheelchair. The officers' initial attempts to communicate with the angry, apparently delusional and armed man prove ineffective.