Police perspective on the psychological effects of using deadly force

Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-11 19:15:36-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)--Chesterfield police are still searching for answers after a deadly standoff with a suspect.

Police said 38-year-old Brian McDaniel aimed at police when they showed up to his Millcreek Drive home to serve domestic assault warrants.
Now CBS 6 News has learned that McDaniel is no stranger to the law.

We obtained court documents that reveal charges of assault and battery on police officers, an ex-wife, a sister and even his mother. The allegations brought by family members led to numerous emergency protective orders.
Documents reveal charges and convictions on McDaniel’s record dating back to 2004.  Police expert Steve Neal tells us the man’s violent past is significant

“Each situation an officer has to look at the particular circumstances however a person's past can be a good indicator of what he might do in the future,” Neal explained.  Neal said that given his past record, he’s not surprised McDaniel forced a standoff with police and took aim, prompting officers to shoot to kill.
He adds, deadly situations like that can take a significant mental toll on an officer who has no choice but to use deadly force.

“Again, you did what you had to do and it may have been the right circumstances at the time,” said Neal. “It doesn’t mean you want to use that amount of force. “

Neal said that often police will regret the force.

“They might wish it never occurred and there’s going to be some sadness involved because this could lead to some psychological issues that could cause turmoil at home,” he said.
But life or death snap decisions have to be made, Neal said. He added that it’s a tragedy on more than one level and it has changed lives for those involved on both sides of the standoff.
Neal explained there are mechanisms in place within various police organizations that can help officers cope with issues like this.

Help includes staff psychologists who work closely with men and women in uniform to help get their lives back to normal as quickly and safely as possible.