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Police rip Biden's repeated advice to shoot suspects 'in the leg'

Biden careful not to ignore progressive priorities

Democratic nominee campaigns in Michigan while Harris forced off the trail; Peter Doocy reports.

Law enforcement groups blasted Vice President Joe Biden for again suggesting training police to shoot suspects "in the leg" is a viable way to avoid fatalities, decrying the proposal as dangerous and ignorant.

During an ABC News town hall Thursday, Biden gave the shooting advice while talking about broader police reforms, which have been on the public conscience since the killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide racial unrest. 

"There's a lot of things we've learned and it takes time, but we can do this," Biden said. "You can ban chokeholds … you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances. … Instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg."

Police officers and law enforcement groups pounced on the suggestion that officers would train to shoot someone in the leg rather than "center mass," the largest part of the body that has long been the firearms training target.

John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, told Fox News that Biden's suggestion is "absolutely ridiculous" and "incredibly ignorant."

"The guy's clueless," Evans said. "And I know he's just trying to appease his left-wing base but it's a really foolish statement."

Joe Gamaldi, vice president of the national Fraternal Order of Police, dismissed Biden's suggestion as "completely ridiculous, "unrealistic" and a "pandering talking point."

"Shootings are dynamic situations and we shoot to stop the threat," Gamaldi told Fox News. "It's incredibly difficult to hit a moving target."

The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed President Trump.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Police are trained to aim at center mass because it's the largest target, whereas aiming at a leg would be much more difficult because it's smaller and a moving target.

"By aiming at legs we are much more likely to miss and we already only hit roughly 50% of the time," Gamaldi said.

Gamaldi recalled a shooting he was involved in about 14 years ago. "Between being terrified I was going to die, someone shooting at me, and then I need to aim at their legs — it’s not realistic."

The law enforcement officials interviewed by Fox News also say it's a fallacy that shooting someone in the leg could be less lethal, especially if a bullet hits the large femoral artery in the thigh. 

But officers fear the consequences if they miss the leg completely and the bullet goes astray. Or if their leg shot doesn't slow down the suspect, he has a chance to harm the officer or a citizen.

"If an individual is coming at you with a knife and you shoot for the leg and you miss, he's on you," said Evans, a Trump supporter. 

Thursday's town hall wasn't the first time Biden made the leg suggestion. In June, Biden said that — if facing a threat from a person with "a knife or something" — police should be trained to “shoot ‘em in the leg instead of the heart."

“Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at ‘em with a knife or something, shoot ‘em in the leg instead of in the heart,” Biden said at a June 1 address to Black community leaders in Wilmington, Del.

“There are a lot of things that can change,” Biden said, regarding police training.

Police officers called out Biden at the time for the unrealistic suggestion, so they are unsure why he is still campaigning on it just days before the election. 

"I don't know why he repeated it after I'm sure it was pointed out to him that it's a ridiculous procedure to pursue," Evans said. 

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said Biden isn't the first person to peddle the leg myth.  

"That myth has been around for a long time. And a lot of Democrats and Republicans have fallen for it," Schrad said. "To be honest with you, Joe Biden has actually been fairly supportive of law enforcement and he's done a lot over the years in different areas supportive of law enforcement. So it's unfortunate that he would not know that that's not a [viable] training tactic in law enforcement."

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police does not endorse candidates in the presidential race.

Officers are rarely in a situation where they have to use their firearms and as a result, they aren't sharpshooters, Schrad said. It would be very hard to get an accurate shot on a smaller moving part and the risk for missing is too great.   

Officers have other options for less lethal forms of force, such as tasers, rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas. When they have to use their firearm it's in a rare, dire circumstance to protect their life or the life of another, she said. 

"Police officers use firearms as a last resort," Schrad said. 

Fox News' Morgan Phillips contributed to this report. 

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Hong Kong police raid media tycoon, pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai's private offices

Investors reluctant to invest in Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai on the state of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai said Thursday that police raided his private offices, months after he was arrested under a new national security law and the newsroom of his newspaper Apple Daily was also swept by hundreds of officers.

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Speaking to local media before a court appearance Thursday, Lai said Hong Kong police raided his private offices and “took away everything.”

"I have no comments. I don't know what their intention is,” he said, according to RTHK. “They wanted to collect, they wanted to get something to go against me. I don't know what it is."

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The founder of media company Next Digital, which operates pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, added that “police didn't wait for even lawyers before they took everything away."

Lai’s aide Mark Simon also announced the raid on Twitter, writing that 14 police officers visited Lai’s office and confiscated documents. Lai, 71, is an outspoken pro-democracy figure who regularly criticizes China’s authoritarian rule and Hong Kong’s government.

“I spoke with police they said they would remain until our lawyer arrived,” Simon wrote. “They did not, they took documents and departed before our lawyer arrived.”

In a statement, the Hong Kong Police Force confirmed that they had conducted a search operation inside an office in Hong Kong’s Kwun Tong district on Thursday, and that “some relevant exhibits were seized for investigation and no person was arrested today.”

The police said the search operation was related to ten arrests made in August under the national security law, on suspicion of colluding with a foreign country to endanger national security and conspiracy to defraud. The statement did not mention Lai by name.

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Pro-democracy activists Jimmy Lai, left, and Leung Kwok-hung, right, arrive at a court in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Lai was among those arrested in August, and headquarters of Next Digital were also raided the same day. He was later released on bail. Some staffers livestreamed on Facebook when the Apple Daily newsroom was being stormed in the early morning hours, and shares of Next Digital shares jumped by 1,100% over two days in August, as people bought to show their support for Lai, Bloomberg reported.

The raid came hours ahead of Lai’s court appearance Thursday to face charges of joining an unauthorized assembly on June 4. Lai and several other pro-democracy activists include Lee Cheuk-yan and Joshua Wong, were charged after they participated in a now-banned candlelight vigil marking China’s bloody Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. The vigil is held annually.

Simon said on Twitter that the police were “still trying to make civil disputes into criminal cases.” He said funds that Lai used to support Apple Daily were frozen.

The national security law, which outlaws subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to intervene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, has added to fears it will be used to silence dissent.

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Pro-democracy supporters say the legislation effectively ends the “one country, two systems” framework under which semi-autonomous Hong Kong has been operating under since Beijing took over the former British colony in 1997.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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World News

Judge Rejects Cops’ Bid To Usurp Prosecutor’s Power In Confederate Monument Cases

A Virginia state judge rejected an attempt by the Portsmouth Police Department to have the city’s elected prosecutor removed from felony cases that police have brought against state Sen. Louise Lucas (D), local NAACP leaders, and a number of the city’s public defenders in connection with what police allege was a criminal conspiracy to destroy the city’s Confederate monument.

The decision by Judge Claire Cardwell would allow Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales to handle the cases, as she was generally elected to do. The Portsmouth police, in what seemed like an effort to conflict her out of the cases, tried to subpoena Morales even though she wasn’t on the scene of the destruction back in June. 

“The judge’s ruling was that there was no basis for a request for the subpoena, and therefore she said the subpoena couldn’t issue,” Edward Ungvarsky, an attorney representing Morales, told HuffPost. “I think the judge made her decision based upon the facts and the relevant law.”

It is unclear precisely how Morales will handle the cases now that she’s poised to take over the prosecutions, but she has aligned herself with the progressive prosecutors’ movement and successfully prosecuted a former Portsmouth police officer for killing an unarmed Black teenager. 

“The upshot of today is that Ms. Morales is the prosecutor in all of the cases and she will address the cases in the normal fashion,” Ungvarsky said. The next step, he said, would be for the police department to provide Morales with police reports and other investigative files, which may then be shown to the defendants where legally required. 

The unusual and questionable felony charges against Lucas and other prominent figures have thrown the Portsmouth government into a state of chaos. Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene ― who has now aligned herself with Lucas’ political opponents ― was suspended by the city’s now-former city manager. The majority-white city council, which appears to back Greene, had seemed prepared to fire the city manager, who resigned just ahead of a council meeting.

In the early afternoon of June 10, Lucas was at the site of Portsmouth’s Confederate monument after police officers arrested two NAACP leaders who approached the monument. Lucas, who had no formal role in the Portsmouth city government, told officers they should not arrest protesters, some of whom spray painted the monument while she was on the scene. Hours later, after night fell, demonstrators brought sledgehammers to the monument and decapitated four statues. One of the statues of a Confederate soldier fell on a protester, severely injuring him.

Lucas subsequently called for Chief Greene’s resignation, saying the police department should have stepped in when the situation became a threat to public safety. Portsmouth Police Sgt. Kevin McGee wrote a letter to the city government blasting Lucas, calling her rhetoric against the chief “disgusting” and “repulsive.” 

Greene subsequently praised McGee for sending that letter and allowed him to bring felony charges against Lucas and other defendants that he’d previously attacked. McGee also disparaged Morales in the letter and wrote that he was “afraid of … persecution and prosecution for doing my job.” Police sources previously told HuffPost that McGee was one of the officers who had pushed for the ouster of then-Chief Tonya Chapman, who was the first Black female police chief in the state of Virginia and who spoke out against a culture of racism inside the Portsmouth Police Department after her dismissal.

Ungvarsky, Morales’ attorney, said the prosecutor hasn’t yet determined how she’ll handle the 19 cases going forward.

“Once she has the investigative materials, she’ll look at the cases and address them in the normal course, just like she looks at and addresses all cases, and then make whatever actions and decisions are appropriate,” Ungvarsky said. 

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