SINGAPORE - The shooting incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital last Saturday has cast a spotlight on the circumstances, in general, under which police would draw and discharge their firearm.
Muhammad Iskandar Sa'at, 23, allegedly snatched the revolver of a police officer at the hospital, while in custody for an unrelated charge of motor vehicle theft.
He had allegedly tried to escape while in an examination room at the hospital. The suspect, a Singaporean, had complained about chest pain and was escorted to the hospital to seek medical attention.
In the struggle that ensued, three shots were fired and the 31-year-old policeman was wounded in his left thumb and right foot.
Muhammad Iskandar had allegedly fired three rounds from a .38 inch calibre Taurus revolver that belonged to policeman Mohammad Sadli Razali, with the intent to cause physical injury.
The suspect has been charged with a capital offence under the Arms Offences Act.
The Straits Times speaks to former and current police officers about the general procedures and considerations under which police draw their firearm:
1. Most police officers are issued with a .38 inch calibre Taurus revolver. The revolver comes with a five-chambered cylinder, and a "speed loader" which allows the user to reload all chambers quickly at the same time.
2. The revolver is housed in a tight moulded holster secured to the belt. Its design forces a user to draw the gun vertically, preventing the weapon from being snatched from behind the officer.
3. The gun's butt is also attached to the police officer's belt by an elastic rubber lanyard, which makes it difficult for the gun to be removed completely without the police officer's knowledge.
4. Before drawing the gun, the officer must first disengage a buckle positioned over the cocking hammer. The buckle prevents accidental firing while the gun is holstered, as the gun cannot load if the cocking hammer is not pulled back.
5. A strong and complete pull is needed to shoot successfully as a weak pull will merely cock the gun, but not fire the bullet.
6. Police officers can shoot when an assailant is armed, with the danger, ability and opportunity to seriously harm or kill. Verbal warnings need to be given before firing.