8.050 - Use of Force Definitions

Effective Date: 09/01/2015

Deadly Force: The application of force through the use of firearms or any other means reasonably likely to cause death, Great Bodily Harm, or serious physical injury.

When reasonably likely to cause death or serious physical injury, Deadly Force includes:

* Shooting a firearm at a person

* A hard strike to a person’s head, neck, or throat with an impact weapon

* Striking a person’s head into a hard, fixed object (examples include but are not limited to concrete objects or surfaces, or solid metal structures such as bars or guardrails.)

* Shooting a person in the head or neck with a beanbag shotgun round

* Using stop-sticks on a moving motorcycle

Neck and carotid restraints may only be used when deadly force is authorized. See Section 8.200 POL 10. See Section 8.200 #4 and #5 for guidance on when deadly force is authorized.

De-escalation: Taking action to stabilize the situation and reduce the immediacy of the threat so that more time, options, and resources are available to resolve the situation. The goal of de-escalation is to gain the voluntary compliance of subjects, when feasible, and thereby reduce or eliminate the necessity to use physical force. See Section 8.100 for further guidance.

De-escalation Techniques: Actions used by officers, when safe and without compromising law-enforcement priorities, that seek to minimize the likelihood of the need to use force during an incident, and increase the likelihood of gaining voluntary compliance from a subject. See Section 8.100 for examples of de-escalation tactics and techniques.

Force: Force means any physical coercion by an officer in performance of official duties, including the following types of force.

* De Minimis Force – Physical interaction meant to separate guide, and/or control without the use of control techniques that are intended to or are reasonably likely to cause any pain or injury. Includes:

- Use of control holds or joint manipulation techniques in a manner that does not cause any pain, and are not reasonably likely to cause any pain.

- Using hands or equipment to stop, push back, separate, or escort a person without causing any pain, or in a manner that would reasonably cause any pain.

* Type I – Force that causes transitory pain, the complaint of transitory pain, disorientation, or intentionally pointing a firearm or bean bag shotgun at a person.

* Type II – Force that causes or is reasonably expected to cause physical injury greater than transitory pain but less than great or substantial bodily harm, and/or the use of any of the following weapons or instruments: CEW, OC spray, impact weapon, bean bag shotgun, deployment of K-9 with injury or complaint of injury causing less than Type III injury, vehicle, hobble restraint.

* Type III – Force that causes or is reasonably expected to cause, great bodily harm, substantial bodily harm, loss of consciousness, or death, and/or the use of neck and carotid holds, stop sticks for motorcycles, impact weapon strikes to the head.

Additional guidance on reporting force may be found in Section 8.400.

FIT (Force Investigation Team): The Department personnel tasked with conducting Type III use-of-force investigations, to include investigations of officer-involved shootings.

Injury Classifications:

* Physical or Bodily Injury (also “Injury”): Physical pain or injury, illness, or an impairment of physical condition greater than transitory pain but less than great or substantial bodily harm. (SMC 12A.02.150,RCW 9A.04.110)

* Serious Physical Injury (RCW 9.A.16.040(2): Physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ or structure or involves serious concussive impact to the head.

* Substantial Bodily Harm (RCW 9A.04.110): Bodily injury which involves:

- Temporary but substantial disfigurement

- Temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ

- Fracture of any bodily part

* Great Bodily Harm (RCW 9A.04.110): Bodily injury which either:

- Creates a probability of death

- Causes significant serious permanent disfigurement

- Causes a significant permanent loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ

Less-Lethal Devices: Devices designed and intended to apply force not intended nor likely to cause the death of the subject or Great Bodily Harm. For the intended purpose of Less Lethal Tools see: Section 8.200 #2. Includes: TASER, Impact weapons, Beanbag shotgun, OC spray.

Necessary Force: “Necessary” means that no reasonably effective alternative to the use of force appeared to exist and that the amount of force used was reasonable to effect the lawful purpose intended. See RCW 9A.16.010 – Definitions.

Objectively Reasonable Force: Objectively reasonable force is based on the totality of circumstances known by the officer at the time of the use of force and weighs the actions of the officer against the rights of the subject, in light of the circumstances surrounding the event. It must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. See Sections 8.000 and 8.100 for further guidance on objectively reasonable force.

Reportable Force: All uses of force other than de minimis are reportable. Reportable force includes the intentional pointing of a firearm at a subject. (Please see "force" above and 8.500-POL-6.)

Use of Force: See “Force.”


* Approved Weapon: A tool used to apply force that is both specified and authorized by the Department

* Approved Use of a Weapon: Use of an approved weapon by an officer who has been properly trained and certified in the use of that weapon

* Impact Weapon: Any authorized intermediate weapon or object used to strike a subject and inflict pain or injury through blunt force.

* Improvised Weapon: An object used to apply force other than those approved and authorized by the Department. Also, any Department-approved weapon used by an officer who has not received required training or certification to use the weapon.