While at a private range on Saturday, James (thanks for the camera work and video editing!) and I shot a mock-up of the Iowa Falls shooting I wrote about a while back. Let me lay out the design of the "experiment".
The Iowa AG's report says that five officers fired a total of 68 rounds in 7-8 seconds. Channel 13 WHO says the subject was struck 17 times, leaving 51 misses. The AG and Channel 13 agree that the shots came from no further than 25 feet. From the video, it appears that the officers were already either on target or at the low ready when the firing began (they did not quick-draw and fire, they were more or less ready to fire when Fitz went for his gun).
Obviously we can't precisely re-enact the event itself because (1) I don't have five armed former operational operator friends who can be in the same place at the same time, and (2) the officers were in a circle and firing past eachother, and I'm not going to do that. But we can work with the averages.
On average, each officer fired 14 rounds, and hit four times from a maximum distance of 25 feet. So, what we did was use an M&P 9 loaded with 15 rounds and shot at an IPSC silhouette at a measured distance of 30 feet. We used a shot timer set to "random" to surprise the shooter, and set it to beep again at six seconds, signaling the end of the event. Any rounds not fired at the second beep would be counted as misses. We wore a 33lb ballistic vest to restrict our movement and just generally make life harder. Then we did rifle PT to exhaust our arms and shoulders, which makes shooting a handgun harder as well as raise our heart rates and simulate the stress of a life-and-death situation (if one can do that...). Additionally, whoever was not acting as the "officer" fired a 5.45x39mm AR15 about four feet to the right of the "officer" to attempt to add confusion and maybe impart some distracting muzzle blast.
Without further stalling, this is me talking unscripted on camera:
To cut through my rambling at the end, what it boils down to is that there really isn't an excuse for missing 75% of the time from across-the-room distances. There was time to set up a perimeter and evacuate neighbors, but no one thought to grab their shotgun or AR. If you're expecting trouble, always take the long gun. ALWAYS. The subject's soft-armor vest would not have taken a hit from a 5.56, and likely not a 12ga slug or full spread of buckshot. I would bet that there were so many misses because officers were trying to shoot around the vest. That is a fairly old SOP that should be revisited as police have new tools at their disposal (such as AR15s). Also, without steel or ceramic plates, all that energy from the bullet goes into the wearer, so 68 hits from a .40 S&W (supposing they didn't compromise the vest, which repeated hits sometimes do) would have laid down a ton of hurt.
As an infantryman in Afghanistan, I had to justify every round fired by my soldiers during the AAR. Big Army wanted to know who fired what in which direction, why that type of weapon was used, and anticipated collateral damage (the correct answer was "none" or you were on the naughty list). If we're going to hold soldiers at war to that standard, I think it's fair to hold peace officers to it as well. Personally, I believe the shooting was justified. However, the tactics and marksmanship were abysmal and every officer who was there needs to re-train on small-unit tactics (i.e. DON'T FORM A CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD!) and all the departments need to seek some marksmanship training from a reputable source. Also, SOPs for dealing with armored assailants needs to be addressed. I'm glad no officers or innocents were hurt, but this could have ended very differently. Training is essential and I hope the departments involved are seeking it.