Tactical issues: The issue of what's right from a tactical standpoint is distinct from what's right from a legal standpoint. The tactical issue centers around the time supposedly lost by having to raise a depressed muzzle if a shot has to be made. In follow on parts of this series, we show that this is not as big an issue as many believe.
Liability issues: Liability in these situations centers around shooting someone who shouldn't have been shot at that moment, which is a legitimate concern. As a mater of mission and policy, police officers routinely balance liability concerns with safety concerns. This balancing act is part and parcel of the job.
As an attorney and police chief, Ken Wallentine points out: "... liability is derived from killing or injuring someone who ought not to be killed or injured. It isn't just a question of writing a check to the survivor." The chief goes on to say: "The majority of law enforcement firearms instructors agree that there is no critical time lost in searching with a depressed muzzle, and they agree that the slight intimidation factor isn't worth the trade-off of an unsafe tactic. Their views are supported by use-of-force rules applied by courts across the nation." My words now - and this is a critical point: We are in the risk-management business, not the risk-elimination business. Nothing is risk-free, and risk to us comes from many sources: physical injury, financial injury, potential criminal convictions and associated jail time, and so on. It is our job to balance these risks appropriately, and they can never be eliminated.
Nonetheless, I hope to show below that no such trade-off is usually required when we address the issue of muzzles pointed at people.