Armed Citizen Corner: The Science Behind Delayed Interviews After a Self-Defense Shooting

Very Important Information for the SECOND most Important Fight you will ever Have in your Life: The Legal Battle after you have used your gun to defend yourself. -SF



When training our members on how to deal with the aftermath of a self defense shooting, we always emphasize the negative impact of stress on thinking, speaking, memory, and behavior. And for this reason, we recommend that you assert your 5th Amendment rights, speak to legal counsel before providing a statement, and strictly limit what you say or do immediately after defending yourself with a firearm.

This is not a legal maneuver. It is based in science. And there is precedent for this advice from the law-enforcement community because police officers are generally allowed a period of time to recover physically and emotionally before they give a statement or deal with an investigator after an officer involved shooting (OIS).

Here’s an article reprinted with permission from Force Science News #254 published by the Force Science Institute. It discusses some of the research that supports the wisdom of delayed investigative interviews.

At the end of this article, note that the author seeks to distinguish between how a police officer should be treated after a shooting and how a civilian should treated. The author is right that civilians have certain rights and privileges that an officer may not enjoy, but the takeaway here should be that if delaying an interview is good for law enforcement, it is also good for civilians. Justice should be served regardless of who is involved in a self defense shooting.


Force Science Institute details reasons for delaying interviews with OIS survivors

As you know, the Force Science Institute in its Certification Course (visit for more details) and in public statements advocates that officers who have been involved in shootings or other high-intensity events should be allowed a recovery period of at least 48 hours before being interviewed in depth about the incident by IA or criminal investigators.

An increasing number of departments are accepting this view, but some agencies still maintain that taking an officer’s statement as soon after the incident as possible — even before the officer is allowed to go home — better assures an accurate and comprehensive recall of what happened because the occurrence is freshest in mind at that point.

Recently Force Science News sat down with FSI executive director Dr. Bill Lewinski to explore this persistent controversy. Here are highlights of that conversation, explaining in detail why the Force Science Institute supports delayed interviewing.

“It’s true that during a delay, some contamination of an officer’s memory can possibly occur,” Lewinski acknowledges. “But the overall benefit of waiting while he or she rests and emotionally decompresses far outweighs any potential loss of memory. A day or two between the event and the interview will have no significant effect on reducing recall. In fact, the opposite is true. Delay enhances an officer’s ability to more accurately and completely respond to questions.

“This is the general conclusion from some 20 years of scientific research on sleep and memory consolidation. And it is the position supported by the Police Psychological Services Section of the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, which is comprised primarily of psychologists and other experts on human behavior who are intimately familiar with the law enforcement experience. The Psych Section recommends a two- to three-day delay between the event and the interview.”

Read the Remainder at Buckeye Firearms

Also check Out Second Call Defense for More Information on this VERY Important Subject.


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