Can a Shooting Simulator Sway Jury Outcomes?

Of all the interesting ways videogame technologies are being applied, the use of a shooting simulator to train grand juries in Texas ranks fairly high.

Police shootings often become controversial. Recently, for instance, an officer in Hearne, Texas shot an armed 93 year old woman. In the Lone Star State when an officer shoots somebody, Texas Rangers typically investigate and the matter goes before a grand jury to decide the officer’s fate. If the shooting is deemed justified, the officer is no billed. If not, a trial ensues.

In Houston and San Antonio, grand juries undergo training before hearing cases involving police shootings. The training involves the use of a simulated firearm, and seeks to emulate some of the difficult choices police have to make when facing armed or potentially armed suspects.

Jurors might face video of an armed bad guy who threatens them with a gun, and choose to fire; clearly a case of justified shooting. Moments later, someone may jump out and surprise them with a cell phone in hand, which could be mistaken for a handgun.

Advocates say the interactive training better prepares jurors to deal with cases involving the use of deadly force. Detractors maintain it preps the jurors to favor law enforcement officers who have fired on civilians. The jury is still out, to coin a phrase, as to whether this type of training will spread to other jurisdictions.


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