Have you ever seen a re-assess and re-engage like this one in real life? I think the officer gave her plenty of opportunity to stop advancing on him with a knife, and practiced good Active Self Protection in keeping distance and stopping the threat.
Original video: https://get-asp.com/gowc
News story with details: https://get-asp.com/icpy
What does this officer involved shooting teach us about protecting ourselves against a knife attack?
- The Tueller Drill is a widely known standard for gun carriers against a knife attack, which states that an attacker can cover 21 feet in 1.5 seconds to get to their target. If the gun carrier doesn’t have their gun out and ready, they will get stabbed trying to get their gun in a fight. This has led to the “21 foot rule”, though it has been revisited by Sgt. Tueller and found to be more of a guide and principle than a rule. At any rate, in a knife attack, recognize that a knife-wielding attacker can be a deadly threat from a significant range, and recognize that they can close that distance very quickly. Get your firearm out and on target as soon as you recognize a threat! This officer had his actions thoroughly reviewed, and by any reasonable person standard he was justified in shooting a woman advancing on him with a knife after repeated warnings to stop.
- 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 had just seconds to decide what to do before the woman closed the distance with the knife she had.
- It’s important to be trained and ready to protect yourself against a knife attack as it is against an attack with a firearm. FBI homicide data says that about 4 times the number of people are killed with handguns as with knives, but since gunshots are about four times more fatal than knife wounds, it means the number of attacks are probably similar! (if you look at the FBI data, hands and feet kill a lot of people, too!) This leads us to the principle that we must be ready for knife attacks that begin at close distance, and have the empty-handed skills to defend ourselves. This officer had advanced warning of the type of attack (his radio told him so!) and so he was able to get his firearm out early.
- 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! Never let someone with a knife close the distance, ESPECIALLY if you have a firearm in the fight!
- 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 officer put five shots on target before the woman with the knife stopped her advance. FIVE. On target. So your small-capacity pocket gun is probably enough for one bad guy if you put every shot where it needs to go.
- Our goal as self-defenders is to stop the threat. We are not vigilantes and we are not out to kill, we seek to stop the threat against us. Shooting to wound will not stop the threat reliably, and neither will shooting an attacker in an extremity. The only reliably means to stop an aggressor who means us death or grievous bodily harm is to put shots in the center of their available mass to cause nervous system collapse or bleeding out. (exsanguination is the technical term) the officer here shot 4 shots and then re-assessed whether the woman was still advancing on him with a knife; he stopped to see if she was still a threat. When she clearly was, he added another shot and then stopped shooting when she fell and dropped the knife. (if you go read the interview, he kicked the knife away and then started life-saving measures as well)
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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