Houston police officers are now not allowed to fire their weapons when faced with a suspect who is trying to run them over, according to a memo obtained by ABC-13 Tuesday.
The former policy allowed officers to use deadly force when their lives were threatened by a suspect in a vehicle. Under state law a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon.
In the memo dated September 25th, 2015, Houston Police Chief Charles McClellan wrote, "Effective immediately, officers shall not discharge a firearm or soft-impact weapon at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or other person with serious bodily injury or death by mean other than the vehicle itself."
"Now what they've done is they've given one more tool for the suspects to kill police officers," said former HPD officer turned attorney Tom Nixon. "Once criminals figure out that they can use their vehicle as a weapon and the police can't shoot them, they will have a greater incentive today and use their vehicle as their weapon to escape."
The last time an officer was killed by a suspect in a vehicle was in May of this year. Officer Richard Martin was run over and killed while he was setting up spikes during a police chase. The suspect hit and killed him before Officer Martin could pull out his weapon.