officer-involved shooting

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officer-involved shooting (plural officer-involved shootings)

  1. An incident in which a police officer shoots at another person.

Usage notes[edit]

The term is exclusively used to refer to shootings committed by police, not shootings committed by other people in which police are otherwise involved, for example, by being present at the scene or by mediating prior to the shooting. Beyond that no standard definition exists,[1] and usage differs regarding whether the shooting must be intentional, whether the person must be hit, and whether the officer must be on duty at the time. For example:

San Francisco Police Department:
An officer's discharge of a firearm that results in the physical injury or death of a person, even if it is an accidental discharge.[2]
Anchorage Police Department:
An incident in which a sworn employee of the Anchorage Police Department purposefully discharged a firearm at a human being.[3]
Austin Police Department:
An incident in which an officer fired his/her firearm intentionally at a subject;
an incident in which an officer fired his/her firearm unintentionally and struck a subject;
or an incident in which an officer used a less-lethal firearm, struck the subject, and contributed to the subject’s death. [4]
International Association of Chiefs of Police:
A discharge of a service weapon by an officer during a hostile encounter or an accidental discharge, while on-duty or off-duty, irrespective of injuries to suspects, officers, or third parties.[5]

Originally used by police departments and adopted by journalists, the term has been criticized as an intentionally misleading euphemism that obscures police agency.[6][7]


  1. ^ Public Safety Open Data Portal. Officer Involved Shootings
  2. ^ San Francisco Police Department (2005). Investigation of Officer Involved Shootings and Discharges
  3. ^ Anchorage Police Department (2013). Officer-Involved Shootings in Anchorage 1993 – 2013
  4. ^ Austin Police Department (2015). Officer-Involved Shootings: 2000-2014)
  5. ^ Public Safety Open Data Portal. Officer Involved Shootings
  6. ^ Pareene, Alex (2015). The Dish. Stop Saying “Officer-Involved Shootings”
  7. ^ Lennard, Natasha (2014). Vice. Some NYPD Officer-Involved Shooting Narratives Just Don't Fly