Heres how so many bullets are fired - and hit rate

Yesterday, there were several protests in New York City. The participants were “outraged” over the recent acquittal of two black cops and one Lebanese cop who shot and killed Sean Bell, who was black.

Much was made about the fact that the three cops shot at Bell’s car 50 times. This number was touted repeatedly by some as evidence that the cops had used excessive force.

Let’s look at this from the probabilistic viewpoint. It turns out that when a cop fires his weapon at a person, he only hits his target about 30% of the time. Anybody who has ever fired a weapon before, especially in an altercation, will know that this is a pretty good rate, but of course not good enough to guarantee that just one shot will be enough to stop a target.

So about how many times must a cop fire so that he is at least 99.9% sure of hitting his target?
*some maths*

Note: one cop shot 31 times, one 11, and the other 8. Of course, the above analysis ignores all external evidence, such as how the probability of hitting decreases when aiming at a moving target, awareness by one cop of shots fired by another, whether the cops were well motivated, etc.
Interesting stuff if you're bothered by the press obsession with rounds fired.

Shooting and probability
My understanding is that the bloke was shot was in a car. Adds another variable as they wouldn't have known if the rounds were hitting (it was dark at the time).
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