Community activist attempts police ‘Shoot, Don’t Shoot’ simulator

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Officers have an unquestionably difficult job.

They have to make split-second decisions that will forever change their lives and the lives of others, and they are under intense scrutiny.

Devante Hill, a community activist who is critical of police activity and one of the leaders of the I-40 bridge protest in Memphis, attempted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's shooting simulator used to train officers.

Hill is one of many in Memphis questioning the methods police use when interacting with the public, so Thursday he volunteered to walk a mile in an officer's shoes.

"You don't know what you're going into. There's an adrenaline rush," said Hill.

The simulator looked almost like a video game. You looked at a projector, were given a gun and went through experiences officers in Memphis face daily.

"I want you to put both hands in the air," yelled Hill at the screen minutes into the training. "I'm telling you put your hands up!"

"It's a shoot, don't shoot scenario that's interactive with a laser weapon that simulates a recoil of actual weapon," said Tim Helldorfer, chief investigator of the district attorney.

Hill walked through tense situations.

"Two females in a white SUV have been involved in an armed robbery," said the instructor to Hill.

WREG wasn't allowed to show you play-by-play, but we can say every ending was different.

"There were moments I didn't shoot and most officers would have shot. In some of those instances, it did not end up with me dying, and some instances it kind of did. It could have ended badly [for me]," said Hill.

For about an hour, Hill walked in an officer's shoes and had discussions with the TBI instructor.

He said his perception changed, he saw another side and realized more work needs to be done.

"We got to make sure we stress in the community you got to comply. An officer does not know when they get on a scene. They don't know," he said.

Hill said every situation was unique, just like real life, and it reaffirmed both sides need to change.

The DA's office said they brought in the TBI to offer the training to community, county and city leaders to give them a better understanding of what an officer experiences.