CALL 6: What happens when police decide to shoot

Posted at 10:53 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 14:01:43-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Milliseconds can mean the difference between life and death for a police officer facing a deadly threat. But while we've heard from suspects and family members – we rarely get a chance to hear from the officers themselves.

Eleven years ago, Indiana State Trooper Jason Allen says he only heard the first gunshot – the one that hit him in the chest.

"I remember the round came through the windshield," he said. "It was loud. I actually remember the smoke from the windshield blowing up, and it felt like getting punched, and of course this is going on in just microseconds."

He didn't hear the series of shots afterward – even though he fired some of them.

"Once I got out of the car, you can hear things really, really crisp, but some things are blocked out," Allen said. "I don't remember hearing any of the actual gunshots. I don't remember hearing the sirens going off. But I can remember people's voices beside me."

Allen and other officers were chasing a man with a long history of drug arrests when he suddenly crashed, and it became a life-or-death situation.

"After he crashed, he leaned out of the vehicle and he began to fire upon the responding police units with a TEC-9 [semi-automatic pistol]," Allen said.

The suspect, Tracy Schlomer, was killed in the shootout. Allen was saved by his bulletproof vest.

"The round … you could actually still see it stuck through my shirt," Allen said.

He said the training he and other officers go through simply kicked in.

"We trained for this so often … the training just takes over," Allen said. "It's not a matter of thinking what you're gonna do next, it's a matter of thinking I've already been there, I've already done this once, even though it was a training scenario," he said.

People often ask why police don't go for "non-lethal" shots in the arm or leg. Police they don't do so for a very specific reason.

"We utilize a weapon, a firearm, simply to stop the threat," said ISP Sgt. John Perrine. "If the treat stops and it ends up being a non-lethal shot, then OK. But we also understand that if we are at the point of deadly force, then we will utilize the firearm and aim for the largest mass – which is the center of mass on a person."

State troopers in Indiana go through 900 hours of training in the academy. More than 101 of those hours are directly related to firearms training. Each year, troopers must complete 16 hours of shooting recertification. IMPD does even more – they spend almost 216 hours of training in the use of force.

So far this year, Indianapolis has had two fatal officer-involved shootings. Last year there were nine in Indianapolis: seven by IMPD and two by state police.

Click the map below to see all nine fatal officer-involved shootings in Indianapolis last year: