Would you have the skill to put shots on target against this robber like the officer did? There are a lot of Active Self Protection lessons from this one, so don’t forget to read the description after watching the video.
Original video of the robber being stopped by the officer: https://get-asp.com/7pon
News story of the DA’s decision on this off duty officer with details: https://get-asp.com/mo3d
Twitter post with pics from the Cincinnati PD of the gun in the bag that was recovered: https://get-asp.com/lhmo
What does this off duty officer teach us about defending ourselves against a robber?
- There’s going to be some question here about the officer shooting the robber in the back, but let’s take a look at what that means. 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 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. Here it seems reasonable that the officer was acting to stop the existing threat, and that the robber had a firearm on his person that the officer couldn’t have known was left in the bag when the robber jumped back over the counter, and therefore deadly force is clearly justified here.
- 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! This officer only had a second to decide what to do with the robber, and he had to act immediately. He did well!
- Marksmanship is critical in a gunfight, because you are responsible for every round that leaves the muzzle of your firearm. You must recognize that you are accountable for any errant rounds that leave your gun and the damage they cause. The officer fired twice here, and thankfully the only hit was on the robber. There were a lot of danger spots though!
- The rules of firearm safety apply whether you’re training or fighting for your life. One of the most difficult to follow in a real life gunfight is Colonel Cooper’s Rule #4: be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. It is exceedingly difficult to do, but self-defenders must stay aware of what is behind their threat so that they take minimal risks to innocents when defending themselves. The officer had a very cluttered lane of fire and a bystander behind the robber…this makes the shot difficult and the background dangerous.
- Since marksmanship is so vital, your best bet to put shots on target quickly is to have both hands on your handgun. Two-handed shooting gives the most stable platform (especially if you use a thumbs-forward grip) and best recoil control for follow-up shots. There will be times and circumstances where shooting one-handed is the only option, but for best marksmanship get a solid two-handed grip as your default and goal. The officer had a single hand on the handgun the entire time, and it might have been a better choice to get both hands on the gun immediately. Train to get both hands on your gun if you can!
- 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. As the video shows, there’s a moment where the officer had to use his guard hand to push the woman counting the money away while he dealt with the robber. In that moment he only had one hand to use the gun.
- The human body is designed to take a ridiculous amount of punishment and still function. You can shoot someone multiple times and they can still pose a deadly threat! Even mortally wounded people can continue to pose a threat for several seconds to even minutes after being shot, so don’t think for a moment that shooting someone will necessarily immediately incapacitate them. That is Hollywood myth. This robber was mortally wounded but ran off into the woods and died some time later. Don’t think that just because you put a shot in the center of mass that the robber will die immediately.
- In most instances that we see on surveillance video, the first person to put shots on target wins the gunfight. That’s not 100% because injured people can stay in the fight a long time, but it is a good “rule of thumb” because once someone gets shot they usually stop thinking about whatever it is they were doing and start thinking about the pain they’re in and how not to get shot again. The lesson in that is clear: be the first to put shots on target. (this is the corollary to Joe Frick’s Rules for a Gunfight #3, “Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.”) Thankfully the officer was first to get a shot on target!
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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