That is to say, a private citizen who initiates a confrontation is considered the “aggressor” and is not given the right to self-defense, but a police officer is regularly expected to initiate confrontations (say, attempting to handcuff an individual, or chasing them down in pursuit), and will not be held accountable for aggression that a civilian would.
First, I was speaking only about the moment the trigger is pulled. In that regard, the law is the same with respect to citizens and police and requires that “one who is free from fault … if, under all the circumstances, he honestly and reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that it is necessary for him to exercise deadly force. People v. Bailey, 485 Mich. 1083 (2010) (** I use Michigan law because that is the jurisdiction in which I taught; however, most jurisdictions follow the same common law doctrines, “stand your ground” notwithstanding). At the point of pulling a trigger, the standard for determining whether or not such action was justified would be analyzed the same for police and civilians.
The doctrine ‘requires that the actor try to avoid the use of deadly force if he can safely and reasonably do so, for example by applying nondeadly force ….’ In addition, an individual can only use the amount of force that is necessary to defend himself.” People v Morrow, 2009 Mich. App. LEXIS 708
The “aggressor” doctrine to which you refer but misstate would not apply to a police officer in the lawful execution of his/her duty. Additionally, it does not categorically deprive the “at fault” person of the right to use deadly force in self defense:
“One who was the aggressor in a chance-medley (an ordinary fist fight, or other nondeadly encounter), or who culpably entered into such an engagement, finds that his adversary has suddenly and unexpectedly changed the nature of the contest and is resorting to deadly force. This … is the only type of situation which requires `retreat to the wall.’ Such a defender, not being entirely free from fault, must not resort to deadly force if there is any other reasonable method of saving himself. (People v. Bailey, 485 Mich. 1083) (emphasis added).
A police officer in the lawful execution of his duty is deemed to be “free from fault” and therefore, the obligation to retreat in the face of escalating resistance would not arise. The ordinary citizen, however, must retreat, even if otherwise the law would not require retreat. Moreover, if the police officer were at fault in the altercation, such as in the process of an unlawful assault, then the officer would be subject to the “aggression” doctrine as well and required to “retreat to the wall” before being entitled to use deadly force.
There are some areas where use of deadly force differs as between police and civilians, and that relates to the obligation to retreat. Once a threat has ceased a civilian no longer would be privileged to follow or pursue whereas a police officer may be obligated by his office to do so. Thus, where inability to “retreat” is an element of self defense, this would not apply to a police officer under circumstances of a lawful pursuit.
I hope this clarifies my intention with respect to my statement.