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FBI agents open up about decision to use deadly force

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — CBS4 Indy is giving you an inside look at the FBI Indianapolis Office as we join the FBI Citizens Academy. Most recently, the participants received training and insight on the deadly force policy.

The FBI's policy is agents may use deadly force only when necessary—that is when agents have a reasonable belief the subject of such force poses an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the agent or others. Often, this decision is made in milli-seconds.

"So, you are a police officer," James Watson, Chief Division Counsel, said to Doug Cross, a Citizens Academy participant. "You and your partner are called to a house where two armed men have been hanging around in the backyard."

FBI agents put members of the Citizens Academy through real-life scenarios to help them understand the factors surrounding these threatening situations.

"The reason we put citizens through this training is, just for a moment, when you see cell phone video or body camera video of a shooting, you get a 15, maybe a 30-second snippet on the news," Watson said. "Now, what I hope they do is they realize there's a whole scenario or situation that goes along with that video. There's information leading up to that video, there's the situation surrounding the video, so to not pre-judge what they think was right or wrong that happened."

Rachel Boveja is a member of the Citizens Academy, and she teaches students at IU Bloomington.

"This is very important to see what you would do in a situation," Boveja said. "You always think you know what you're going to do until a situation happens. In my particular scenario, I was with an Arabic speaking suspect and completely forgot that I spoke Arabic."

Watson said this training gives people a glimpse into law enforcement's work.

"There's information leading up to that video, there's the situation surrounding the video, so to not pre-judge what they think was right or wrong that happened," Watson explained.

But FBI agents encourage everyone to consider their own moral deadly force policies.

"What would I do in that situation if someone's armed and attempting to break into my house? How would I handle myself?" Watson asked.

Some people say they could not imagine using deadly force, but that opinion may change with proper training.

"You'd be surprised what you can accomplish when you're trying to protect yourself or your loved ones or someone else," Watson said. "There's quite a few lengths that we'll go through to do something like that."

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