Public Talk: Police Killings in Self-Defense

Fatal police shootings often take place when an officer perceives a threat from a civilian and acts in self-defense. Focusing on the policing context, this presentation asks: When is defensive killing under uncertainty morally permissible? At the Wijnhaven Building in The Hague, Postdoctoral Fellow Jennifer Page will examine five accounts of self-defense under uncertainty, analyzing them by using the hypothetical police shooting case Non-Compliance.

Two of the accounts —the Priority of Beliefs Account and the Forbearance Account — are rejected. The remaining three accounts — the Evidence Under Uncertainty Account, the Hindsight Account, and the Dividing the Risk Account —are subsequently assessed as plausible. Each of the three plausible accounts, it is argued, highlights a distinct shortcoming of the existing U.S. law governing the police use of lethal force. The presentation concludes by measuring the police use-of-force protocol in the EU and the Netherlands against the accounts.