The reaction of this officer to the threat in front of him is cause for us all to pause and consider how we would respond in a similar situation. This is why we show you these videos at Active Self Protection, to get you to think about how you’d respond in the shoes this officer had to fill.
Original video of the body cam from the perspective of the officer: https://get-asp.com/1unl
News story with details: https://get-asp.com/dyaz
What does this officer involved shooting teach us about protecting ourselves against an ambush?
- The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the hands are the windows to the intent of a person. If you’re in a potential conflict, ALWAYS pay attention to what the aggressor is doing with their hands. They might have a force multiplier in their hand, or they might be hiding their hand so that you can’t see what is in it or using their hand to conceal something. If their hands are empty, there is a difference between someone with fists and someone whose hands are open and relaxed. As a self-defender your situational awareness must include seeing the hands of any potential threat in your vicinity, so watch the hands! The officer here kept asking to see the felon’s hands, but he didn’t listen to the officer (for obvious reasons).
- If your awareness is solid, you should get plenty of pre-attack cues from a robber or other attacker. If you’re paying attention to your surroundings and the people in your vicinity it becomes a lot easier to see who is out of place! Look for people lurking and not doing what everyone else is doing, or covering their face or head when that’s not necessary (like inside or when it’s warm out). Watch for furtive glances which are an indicator that they are looking for potential witnesses to their actions. Check hands as well to see if they have anything in them or are hiding unnaturally in pockets. If you see a pattern that makes you uncomfortable, move from condition yellow to condition orange and take action to investigate or move to safety. This officer knew something was up from the beginning!
- 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 officer here survived the ambush, and thank the Lord he did!
- In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. This is true of an officer or a CCW. 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.
- To defend against this kind of attack, you need emotional fitness. Emotional fitness is defined as the ability to internally represent a situation or predicament to yourself in such a way as to make you strong and able to successfully defend yourself against it. Repeated practice and thousands of reps of sparring and self-defense absolutely build your emotional fitness to be able to handle whatever comes your way. That first shot hit the officer in the ballistic vest, and that hurts like CRAZY. To know how you’ll respond in the moment you need to deal with stress in training and pain in training so that you can stay in the fight. The officer recovered his emotional fitness pretty quickly, and the only way to learn that is to experience pain and continuance in a training environment.
- Do not stay in the danger zone if you can possibly help it. So many times people get decision paralysis and freeze, but you cannot stay in a place where a deadly threat exists! Either act to leave the area, or act to protect yourself. Every second you give an attacker is another opportunity they have to do you and yours harm, so don’t allow that. If you can, get out of there immediately. If you can’t, then look for your opportunity to ensure your own safety by whatever means necessary. Before your Kung Fu, and before your Gun Fu, you should consider whether your best defense is Run Fu! Obviously the officer needed to consider his need to try to take the suspect into custody, but if you’re not a law enforcement officer, beat feet!
- You must know what parts of your car offer cover, and what parts of your car are only concealment. Car doors and windows are no help against bullets, friends. They are concealment. The engine block provides cover, as do steel wheels and the transmission and axles. If you have to use your car to protect yourself from incoming fire, movement is your best friend and you must be ready to shoot from unconventional positions. Taking a course on using a handgun in a vehicle is much advised. The officer here chose to get away from the car, which is a fine decision if any other options exist.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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