Shoot or not shoot? Local cop trains other officers on use of deadly force

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PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Local police officer Gary Shilley knows firsthand about the dangers of police work.

“I was ambushed from behind the hood of a vehicle and he shot me in the face,” said Shilley.

That was in the South Hill Mall parking lot in 2006.

Now, he trains other officers on use of deadly force.  His company, Defense Essentials, uses hundreds of different video scenarios to train officers on decision-making in life or death situations.

"You killed my mom, you killed my dad," yells a distraught teenager on one of the videos as she holds a gun to her head.

Shilley tries to talk her out of it. "You don't need to do that, drop the gun, please drop it," he pleads.

On the video, she takes her own life.

It's one of the many possible endings officers might have to respond to as they practice their verbal and response skills.

"I can see what's going on. They're telling me to kill them. I don't want to kill them. My objective is to stay alive. They point that gun at me, I have to use deadly force against them. I don't want to do that," said Shilley.

On another video, a man picks up a large rock and runs at officers, threatening them. It's similar to what happened in Pasco recently.

"You get hit in the head with a big enough rock or a hard enough rock, it can kill you -- and the officer has to think about that," said Shilley.

That hasn't stopped sharp criticism from the public. Shilley worries the media firestorm after every police shooting could cause officers to hesitate in dangerous situations.

"There gonna stop and second-guess themselves for a second and it may get them killed. God, I don't want to see that. Been there, done that and it's not a good place to be," said Shilley.

He thinks the public and media are too quick to judge following a shooting.

“Things are being added to these events that never even happened and the public is believing what’s going on, they’re not taking into account the officer’s situation, the decision he has to make, again, in a flash of a moment and to protect his life and go home," he said.

His goal is to give officers the keen mental awareness and tools they need when faced with a crisis.

"We`re trained to stop the threat, literally stop the threat and, hopefully, that doesn`t mean killing that person. If you end up using deadly force, it may end up being that the person dies, unfortunately, but that is not our goal," said Shilley.

He teaches similar classes to interested civilians and even holds seminars for neighbors on use of deadly force when confronted in their homes by a burglar.

For more information about the course, email

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  • "peety"

    the rock throwing scenario was not similar to the Pasco incident. I’m glad David Rose and Parella Lewis are not cops. We’d have a lot of dead suspects with no right to a trial.


    This is all BS!! They are trainned to kill why not shoot their knee cap or arm why straight to the torso or head?? police are free killers and should not be trainned to kill. This is not right! I watched this thing this morning and they shot at the teens even though they did not have a deadly weapon on them just by them moving they shot at them.. Who are you out here protecting?? the community or your self? We all walk among all these people they can be rude, racist, mean, drug addicts but you don’t see us pullingout guns to kill them. If we all knew this is the first reaction alaw enforcment takes than why even contact them? they are no help they make it worse. Go out there and look for the real problems in our communities, like sex offenders, child molesters, murderers you are out here killing people because they make a quick move and you thing they ar armed and dangerous? picking up small drug deals and locking them up for years and whe nthey come out they have not plan no job. This is why they get in this game in the first place. They are not given a chance. They are feeding their families with what they can do. when they come out there is no choice because racist americans are still here stoping all minorities to progress and built carriers. All these big companies, you walk in and all you see is one race, no minorities maybe you see one or two but that must be a have to fro these companies. Unions are the worse. I’ve never experienced racisim until I married a darker person thatn me, the way he gets treated and talked down to at these union jobs is rediculous!! I can not belive these big bosses get away wth talking to their minoritie workers like that.

    • andrew johnson

      are you kidding me! they’re not out there just free killing. They are doing what they suppose to be doing, protecting the people. Look if you’re talking about those two teens that ripped off that Safeway, then you are misguided. Those two individual were thugs, they steal, they assaulted people, and more. They both had records on them. So yeah maybe they should of listen to the officer and maybe they wouldn’t of gotten shot. A cop will not fire unless he feels threaten. Now a day due to the lack of parenting and all this PC bull crap, these young kids think they can just run around and think that they are untouchable, which sometimes ends up bad for them. Well that’s all I have to say on that. Stop bring race into everything. People are going to be talked to and judged the way they present themselves. If they look like a slacker, going to be treated like a slacker. It has nothing to do with the color of ones skin. Lets get pass the color and look at what is underneath the color. Everyone is human, everyone bleeds the same color. Not everyone acts the same and that’s what needs to look at the actions of people.