LEO Has Split Second to Decide Whether to Shoot

Have you ever watched a video of police interactions and thought you knew the whole story? This one shows why having multiple angles and reserving judgment is wise! At Active Self Protection we are pro-LEO (but of course, not pro-bad cop, and we expect excellence and high standards of professionalism from all in authority) and think this shows how small the window is where LEO or CCW alike have to make life-or-death decisions.

This video is sponsored by CCWSafe, who I use to help me win the fight after the fight: https://get-asp.com/ccwsafe. I am a member and I recommend them highly; please go check them out and thank them for being a sponsor of our daily lessons!

Original video here: http://get-asp.com/loky

News story on the incident here: http://get-asp.com/cepg

What does this video teach LEO and CCW alike when it comes to deadly force encounters?

1. Video doesn’t always tell the whole story. The first angle from the dash camera might lead some to claim that the LEO overreacted and drew a gun on a citizen for no reason. Thankfully the body camera Officer Wheeler was wearing shows a much better angle of what was really going on. If I were a LEO, I know I would want a body camera for just this reason, especially given the current political climate regarding police use of force.

2. In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. On the range and in class we have time to consider and to think and to reset and to make multiple attempts, but when the balloon goes up in real life you’ve got fractions of seconds to decide what the best course of action is to protect yourself. The way to be better at decision making in the heat of the moment is training, specifically scenario training and force-on-force training that is designed to work on decision-making skills under stress. It’s offered all over the country, so get training!

3. Situational awareness is your best friend. It doesn’t mean that you always are paranoid or living in “condition orange,” but it does mean that you know Col. Cooper’s color code of awareness and you live by it. This officer was aware and alert as he made his traffic stop, and it might have saved him having to shoot this man.

4. While we know that shooting with both hands on the gun is best for recoil control and putting fast, accurate shots on target, we also know that it’s not always possible to do. We must train and prepare to use our firearm with both our gun hand and our guard hand in case of injury or incapacitation. Notice that Officer Wheeler, for whatever reason, couldn’t get two hands on his firearm in this encounter. (thankfully it is a moot point!) Be able to run your firearm one-handed.

5. In the moment of need, the old saying goes that you will not rise to the occasion but fall to the level of your training. Usually, you’ll fall to the level of your WORST DAY in training. That means you want to train hard, train regularly, and make no excuses (to paraphrase one of my martial arts mentors, Skip Hancock) so that your worst day is good enough for the fight you’re in. Here, Officer Wheeler had enough training to use his voice to control the man in the car so that he didn’t have to shoot him. His training and experience saved the day, and that’s commendable! Most LEO I know are working long hours and don’t get enough training in their month for time or financial reasons. Don’t be one of them!

6. If I had one suggestion for improvement here (and don’t read it as a criticism of Officer Wheeler, just a suggestion for learning) it is this: If you have a firearm out, distance is your friend. A firearm has a functionally infinite range in a deadly force encounter. (yes, I know, that’s not 100% true…for the purposes of a self-defense fight, it is functionally true) If you are at contact distance to someone you have a firearm aimed at, you give them the ability to fight you for your firearm and negate the advantage you have. Therefore, if you have a gun on someone, stay out of range of their hands if at all possible! Here Officer Wheeler, just because of the circumstances and situation, had his firearm where the man in the car could have reached for it and had a fight for it. Thankfully it didn’t happen and all came out well!

Attitude. Skills. Plan.

(music in the intro and outro courtesy of http://www.bensound.com)

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