These armed robbers were pretty well organized and reasonably smart, but that’s why we talk about practicing Active Self Protection when you’re a self-defender! Would you have drawn immediately, or waited like this officer did?
Original video of the armed robbers being run off, with some details (Google Translate from Portuguese required): https://get-asp.com/ys1k
What does this off duty officer teach us about defending ourselves against armed robbers?
- Transitional spaces are places where we MUST be more careful of potential attack. A transitional space is any location that (1) allows attackers to prey on potential victims with an element of surprise and (2) provides ready escape for the attackers. The officer had almost no notice that the armed robbers were coming, and that’s par for the course and what all armed robbers want to do. When you’re in a transitional space, make sure you know your vulnerabilities and do the best you can.
- In any territorial or predatorial violence, the attacker gets to set the time and circumstances of the attack. They will almost always launch that attack from ambush, or as we like to call it in Umas, from “obscurity.” Surviving that ambush is one of the most important keys to successfully defending yourself. The armed robbers got TWO ambushes here: first, they all got to ambush the entire store; second, armed robbers 2 and 3 got to ambush the officer. Surviving the ambush is a critical part of your defensive plan, whether you’re an officer or CCW.
- In the moment armed robbers attack you, you must look for your opportunity to protect yourself. It is strongly possible that the moment of the attack is not that moment. You want to wait for the time that the armed robbers are not focusing on you to act with decisiveness to protect yourself. I don’t blame the officer for taking his time here, but he almost let his opportunity go when the first of the armed robbers (the one with the gun) went past him, to launch a counter-ambush.
- The root word of gunfight is “fight,” not “gun.” Whether you carry a firearm or not, recognize that you need to know how to fight and protect yourself against an attacker! Even if you do carry a firearm, you need empty-handed skills to be able to fight your way to your gun or defend yourself before you get the opportunity to draw. To think otherwise is madness. This officer had multiple armed robbers hanging on him before he could get to his firearm; he needed those empty-handed skills!
- One of the challenges that is more and more common with multiple attackers like these armed robbers is the concept of a “trailing accomplice.” What we see fairly often is a point man/gun man who launches the attack, and a trailing accomplice who observes from a distance and comes in when it’s time to secure what they’re after or after they identify any resistance. Just because you don’t see multiple attackers at the beginning of an encounter doesn’t mean they’re not there, so if you’re in a defensive encounter expect there to be multiple attackers.
- As one of my martial arts mentors, Skip Hancock, is fond of saying, the ground must be your friend and not your enemy. You must know how to fight on the ground and not panic if the fight goes to the ground! You must have skills from bottom position, from top position, and in the scramble. You must be able to regain your feet and fight from wherever you find yourself. Too many fights require this skill to ignore it! Here the armed robbers thankfully discontinued their attack from the ground (not positive why), but knowing that you may well need those skills, you better learn to fight from the ground!
- You must know how to fight to keep your firearm from being taken from you. If you carry a gun or keep one nearby, you must do what it takes to keep unauthorized people from accessing it and using it against you. If it is on your person, you must be trained and proficient in keeping the gun from being taken from its holster. (yes, that means a quality belt, a quality holster, and if openly carried, at least level 2 retention; the only one I recommend is the Safariland ALS: http://amzn.to/1SjOirW ) If it is not on your person, it must not be accessible to unauthorized people. There can be no workarounds for this rule! Your force on force and empty-handed skills training must include training on firearms retention. The officer needed those retention skills against these armed robbers, and that lesson shouldn’t be missed.
- The “fleeing felon rule” generally applies to Law Enforcement Officers in the performance of their duties, and since 1985’s Tennessee vs. Garner decision the ability to use deadly force to apprehend a fleeing felon like these armed robbers by LEO has been limited to cases where the officer has probable cause to believe that the fleeing felon is a continuing threat of serious physical harm to the officer or the public. However, how that law applies to non-LEO varies state by state. Make sure to know your local laws so that you know the limitations of shooting a fleeing felon, especially if you’re not a police officer.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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