It’s hard for me to watch police camera videos of car chases and shootings. You want to root for the police, but still the understanding that someone ends up dead, even if it is at his own instigation, is disturbing.
It was first brought to my attention at http://www.breachbangclear.com/atlantic-city-pursuit-gunfight/. It’s mostly about the car chase, but even here, the armed citizen can scrape up a little knowledge. Get out of the way. Get off the street if possible as soon as possible or at least pull over and stay there until the parade is over.
The excitement of the chase, the adrenaline dump will cause even the most trained driver to drive reckless. At about 9:50 our car takes a shortcut on the wrong side of the road around a monument so he can get in front of 4 other police cars. Do you think there’s potential for tragedy here? You see the flashing lights, get off the road! You don’t want to be a bumper in this game of dodge ‘em.
At 10:52 something goes out the window. What it is isn’t made clear, but I suspect drugs.
At about 11:06 the fleeing car attempts to cross an intersection against the light. A black SUV neatly clips the fleeing car and spins it out of control. It has been a called an almost perfect PIT maneuver.
The car rolls to a stop and at 11:18 we see our first police officer, out in the open, essentially naked to incoming rounds. I hope he was wearing his vest. As the armed citizen involved in a road rage or spree shooting, we don’t have to take a person into custody. We can and should stay behind cover and concealment.
The suspect starts to leave the car, the officer fires at least two rounds and realizes he and Gypse Rose Lee have something in common and retreats. The next second the suspect, a big man, leaves the car and the gun in his right hand is apparent, but he’s holding something in his left hand too. It looks like he’s fired a gun before. He’s got the gun in line with his eye, so I suspect he has a flash sight picture. The time is 11.25.
It looks like the gun is recoiling in his hand. He doesn’t care about the backstop, whoever that might be. It appears the police don’t either. Take this as a reminder on several levels.
- Incoming rounds have right of way. Use cover when possible
- Rounds from the police don’t care who you are either. Get behind cover.
- Big fat people can be dangerous and quick on their feet
- Criminals use quality, reliable handguns just as we do
- While it may be difficult for a criminal to practice, they can and some do.
- Don’t assume that seeing one gun means only one gun.
Our suspect has maybe a minute to live. It’s hard to think about that. In under a minute a life will expire. What must that do to the police officers and witnesses? Somebody cared for, maybe loved that big guy and now he’s gone. There’s another message for the armed citizen. Don’t let the finger on the trigger become a self-fulfilling prophesy. We are never required to shoot.
He goes down around 11:27, almost at the same time a puff of smoke appears rising from the street behind him. It doesn’t matter who fired that shot, him or a police officer. It’s going down range looking for a resting place.
After that time your guess is a good as mine. You still see puffs of smoke on the payment suggesting the police are still shooting. He’s still moving and what’s in his left hand is still unclear to us. Occasionally the body jerks, was that another round or a death spasm?
I’m willing to give the police the benefit of doubt. I wasn’t there and we have only one video to look at. My dialog might be significantly different from another point of view.
The armed citizen faced with a lethal force encounter must be aware of the backstop, options available to them, and the constantly changing escalation and descalation. Remember that down is not the same as out. Immobile is not the same as helpless.
If this had been a road rage confrontation starting at 11:06 and the shooter just popped out of his car and started shooting at you, the driver behind him, would you have shot him after he was down? The answer depends on the totality of the situation.
I like watching these police videos, until I realize they are not actors. They’re men and women who have to live and die with their actions and results. Spend a little time thinking about what you, the armed citizen, would have done in that conflict. Then say a prayer it never happens.