I know this is a hot button issue. I was reading about self defense with a firearm and found the general rule that a person that instigates a fight cannot use a self defense argument when using deadly force. The castle doctrine includes the requirement for violent entry to allow the use of deadly force.

The police used a violent entry to enter the Taylor apartment. The DA said the officers were justified in shooting in self defense. The DA decided not to go to trial because the officers were defending themselves. But could officers really use a self defense argument at a trial? Would it be more nuanced that they were protecting the public?

I get the community concerns that police can break down a door and shoot when someone claims they are just defending themselves. Of course, if the police cannot shoot at a criminal shooting a gun then police are put in an untenable position. I’m pro-law enforcement. And I’ve learned how fast confrontations can go sour.

Do police have special permission to use deadly force? Is the violent entry that police may use when serving a warrant different than violent entry that a criminal uses when breaking in?

I understand the issue is sensitive.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 17:04

3 Answers 3


Since there is already an answer regarding the use of deadly force, I'll only address the other part of the question.


Is the violent entry that police may use when serving a warrant different than violent entry that a criminal uses when breaking in?

Given that the police were executing a warrant, they were within their legal right to break down any barrier to entering the premises. A criminal entering by breaking a door would not be within his legal rights.

Self-defense legal defense may not be available to someone initiating an illegal aggressive act. But, since the police did not initiate such an illegal act, they did not lose their legal right to defend themselves.

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    They might even claim immunity... unless they went through the wrong door.
    – Trish
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 16:54
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    "Given that the police were executing a warrant, they were within their legal right to break down any barrier to entering the premises." I'm pretty sure that merely having a warrant does not give the police the right to break down a door. Maybe a no-knock warrant does. The idea that police have the right to immediately destroy a door and not give the occupants a chance to open the door voluntarily is absurd. Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 1:35
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    @Accumulation absurd or not, it's clearly not something that was suggested. Burglars don't have a legal right to break down a door after introducing themselves and being denied entry. Police with a warrant do.
    – grovkin
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 7:53
  • This is the best answer because it does address the self defense issue. The nation is in an uproar about how this went down. Fault the home occupant for not identifying the intruder before firing the weapon. Difficult that would be with events happening so quickly. Thanks to all for responding without rancor to this question and comments.
    – kd4ttc
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 20:47
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    @Acccumulation In this particular case the police did not have a "no-knock" warrant. Witnesses differ on whether the police announced themselves and gave the occupants a proper opportunity to open the door before breaking in. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Breonna_Taylor#Shooting Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 8:14

Yes, police have special permission to use force


It is lawful for a police officer exercising a function under this Act or any other Act or law in relation to an individual or a thing, and anyone helping the police officer, to use such  force  as is reasonably necessary to exercise the function.

So, police can use force (even deadly force if reasonably necessary) when performing their duties.

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    looks like you've got a unicode error Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 16:31
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    Just want to point out that it might not have been illegal for Kenneth Walker to shoot as well. People have been found innocent after shooting and even killing police during no-knock raids, arguing that in the confusion they thought it was a burglary. It is possible for both sides to be justified to use lethal force.
    – Ryan_L
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 19:29

There are multiple factors that justify killing by cops in the united states.

The most prevelant is arguably the Law enforcement bill of rights (LEBOR) John Oliver covered the topic quite well.

The other most common, ambiguous factor includes whether or not the officer was "afraid for their life", which effectively provides cowards with a badge a blanket statement to used as a license to kill.

The biggest problem is that officers in many states do not have laws requiring them to exhaust non-lethal or less-than-lethal options before deadly force can be issued. Many laws that have been proposed on this are heavily lobbied against by the law enforcement unions which have substantial legal influence.

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    For clarity's sake, the "Law Enforcement Bill of Rights" is a colloquial, non-legal term being used by satirists and in political arguments to describe the collective array of protections from criminal and civil actions that law enforcement officers have in practice (sometimes under union collective bargaining agreements and case law as well as statutes and almost never in a state or federal constitutional unlike the real state and federal bill of rights). It is also a fairly new phrase that is not universally understood to have a clear meaning.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 22:25
  • @ohwilleke, thanks for the clarification. A couple of commenters and posters have made argumentative contrigutions unkike the other thoughtful replies found in this thread.
    – kd4ttc
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 0:33
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    @ohwilleke it is not a non-legal term, nor is it solely the topic of discussion by satirists. It's based on Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) and Gardner v. Broderick (1968). Although no federal law of the name exists, the rulings are institutionalized in many states through state statutes.
    – LawCurious
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 21:11
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    Even in those cases (which are now very dated and from a different era of jurisprudence and opinion writing style) the usage would be colloquial.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 16:54

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