Police officers trained to fire at the centre of body to stop threat of serious injury or death: Shanmugam, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Police officers trained to fire at the centre of body to stop threat of serious injury or death: Shanmugam

Some recent violent incidents involved known drug users who were armed and had to be stopped to prevent great harm, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said in a statement to The Straits Times.

A recent case which was widely reported involved a knife-wielding drug offender, Ng Eng Kui, 64, who was shot dead after a confrontation with police officers at Block 33 Bendemeer Road on March 14.

The officers fired three Taser shots at Ng and retreated, but he continued to advance towards them. He was then shot in the chest.

While most people understood the police's actions, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam noted that some have asked whether it was possible to shoot to injure, rather than kill.

He said in a Facebook post on Saturday (March 26): "Our officers are trained to fire at the centre of the body to stop an imminent threat of grievous hurt or death.

"This offers a higher probability of hitting and reduces risk of injury to innocent bystanders."

Mr Shanmugam said the man had ignored orders to drop his knife and continued moving towards the officers.

Although they fired their Tasers, he was not incapacitated and continued to come at the officers with the knife. One of the officers then fired a shot, which hit the man.

"The man is wanted by CNB. He has a history of drug abuse, and suspected drug apparatus was found in his flat," added Mr Shanmugam.

"He was also under investigations for several offences, including rash act and voluntarily causing hurt to a police officer."


[Knife-wielding man shot dead] A man was shot on Wednesday, when he moved towards Police Officers with a knife. He was...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Friday, March 25, 2022

CNB did not provide specifics of the cases in their reply to questions by ST, but referred to violent incidents in the past few weeks.

On March 14, a man is said to have swung a sword at a pedestrian in Buangkok Crescent, causing the victim to suffer a cut on his left arm and two cuts on his left shoulder.

Passers-by wrestled the man to the ground before the police arrested him. He had allegedly popped some pills before the incident.

A 37-year-old identified as Fadhil Yusop was later charged with one count of voluntarily causing hurt.

In their statement, CNB noted that research has shown those under the influence of drugs are prone to aggression, violent behaviour, hallucination, and loss of control of their senses and reality.

"Preliminary findings are that the subjects involved in several violent incidents in the past few weeks, which endangered the lives of the public and the responding police officers, have a history of drug abuse," the Bureau said.

CNB added that they could have been under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.

"They had exhibited violent and reckless behaviour, and were armed, and could have caused even greater harm had they not been stopped in time," it said.

In response to queries from ST, a police spokesman said that situations involving those armed with weapons endangering the safety of the public can be dynamic.

"In some incidents, they may turn violent and threaten the safety of members of the public and responding police officers," said the spokesman.

"The involved persons, including police officers, do get hurt at times.

"Hence, officers will have to swiftly consider the various force options and take decisive action to subdue persons who pose a danger to the public or to them."

In another incident, also on March 14, a 33-year-old man allegedly injured two passers-by with a razor blade at Block 59 Strathmore Avenue in Queenstown.

Mohd S. Muhibullah Said Abdullah, who was arrested by police, claimed he had heard voices in his head telling him to attack people.

Muhibullah, who has been a patient at the Institute of Mental Health, also has a history of drug use. He is facing two charges of voluntarily causing hurt with a dangerous weapon.

Associate Professor of Sociology at National University of Singapore Tan Ern Ser said the outbreak of violence could be due to mental-health issues, or drug-induced, or both.

"One could blame (stress related to) Covid-19 rules, but I doubt it is a factor, given that armed violence is taking things to the extreme, and most people are unlikely to get to such extremes," he added.

But Dr Annabelle Chow, principal clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology, pointed out that most people with mental illness are not violent.

"The stereotype of association between mental illness and violence often leads to increased stigma against individuals with mental illness," she said.

"This can lead to increased social isolation and discrimination by society, which are the opposite of what they require."