I know it wouldn't make any of us feel better but is the risk of stray pellets statistically more probably in real shootings? Unfortunately, I know of no data that would provide this info.
That question was one of the reasons I started this thread.
If you're shooting a bad guy with a rifle or pistol, the officer is generally trying to hit the target with each shot fired. We know that there will be misses, but they are not intentional.
But with buckshot, if shooting at any distance beyond 15 or 25 yards, or whatever distance dependent on barrel/choke/ammunition combination, we can guarantee that there will be at least 1, if not more misses. Is that acceptable?
Proponents of buckshot will say Yes, a miss is a miss. The benefits of not having to be exactly on target (pray and spray?) outweigh the risks of downrange collateral damage.
Opponents of buckshot say No, it's not, because collateral damage is not acceptable; officers are supposed to be aiming at suspects to eliminate collateral damage.
And while there's no hard data, or at least any hard data that is within my grasp, this thread has been valuable for at least making us think about it. I don't know if we will ever come to a definitive, scientific conclusion. But I like the discussion.