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New Type of Shotgun Ammunition Produces Unique Wound Characteristics

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 52 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2007 Pages: 195-198
Craig L. Nelson M.D.; David C. Winston Ph.D.
Date Published
January 2007
4 pages
After a review of shotgun slug ballistics and wound characteristics, as well as a description of the mechanism of the Polyshok Impact Reactive Projectile (a new type of shotgun ammunition), this paper reports on the features of the first death in the United States from this ammunition.
The Polyshok Impact Reactive Projectile (IRP) shotgun ammunition has a lead bead core that travels within a single, plastic-encased projectile. On impact, the core is released to distribute shot over a small area, thereby disintegrating on impact, thus reducing the likelihood of exit or collateral damage of missed shots. The Polyshok IRP death case examined involved a 40-year-old male victim who was shot from approximately 25 feet by a law enforcement officer. He was shot after refusing to drop a gun after repeated commands from the officer to do so. The entrance wound was characteristic of a wound caused by either a solid projectile such as a slug or by a cluster of shot that had not spread sufficiently to create scalloping or individual pellet wounds. The internal findings for tissue disruption were characteristic of the large kinetic energy transfer typical of shotgun wounds. The findings of small lead particles were most consistent with very fine shot. The plastic ammunition body and actuator were recovered from the pericardial sac. Ordinarily, the findings of small shot and plastic ammunition components with a single entrance wound would suggest a shorter travel distance than 25 feet for shotgun ammunition. Because the Polyshok IRP projectile travels most like a slug, however, inferences about range must be modified. A lack of familiarity with the characteristics of this type of ammunition could confuse an examiner. 6 figures and 20 references