Gut Rumbles

July 25, 2005

a simple question

I know a lot of cops where I live. I knew a lot more back in my guitar-playing days (not because they ever arrested me--- I knew them because they patrolled River Street, where I did a lot of work). My cousin Alan is a Police Captain in Florida.

I read this comment and wanted someone dragged off and shot.

What ever happend to the commonsense days of shooting first a shot overhead to 'get attention?"

Recently near me a policeman shot a 13-year-old girl three times during a disturbance call. The girls parents said she was suicidal and they needed help. When the cop arrived the girl picked up a kitchen knife (for the first time) and the cop shot her, 3-times!

Why? Because he was trained to shoot to kill?

Why wasn't he trained to use methods for handling mentally or emotionally ill citizens. Why didn't he retreat from the house and call for special help?

Why didn't he shoot once, in the leg, or shoulder if absolutely necessary?

I don't get it. You guys seem to be saying that the only use of a gun in police work is to kill. I know that's not true. Why don't you?

Posted by Glenda at July 25, 2005 10:07 AM

I know good and well that I have some policemen (and policewimmen), retired cops and military MPs who read this blog. Correct me if I'm wrong.

EVERY ONE of those people told me that a "domestic disturbance" call is one of the most frightening to answer, because you never know WHAT you may find there. I went to high school with Alex Hodgson. He became a cop. "Hodgson Memorial Drive" in Savannah is named after him today, because he answered a domestic disturbance call and some whacked-out fucker blew his head off with a shotgun when he knocked on the door.

People who say "What about a warning shot?" don't know WTF they're talking about. They also don't know much about shooting, either.

If I ever shoot a gun at a person, I'm aiming for the biggest target I can find. That's the torso. I have less chance of missing that way. And anybody who says that you can shoot to "wing" somebody with a handgun is full of shit.

That's MY humble opinion on this matter. And if I'm wrong, some of you cops and MPs correct me.


Some people watch to much TV. I shoot to stop and I don't give a damn if they die or not, they already made a decsion to die by doing something stupid.

Posted by: james old guy on July 25, 2005 11:31 AM

Warning shot? I have a friend who says the evil-doers and rapscallions who create this havoc for us all deserve a "warning shot to the face." Not a bad plan.

Sad about the 13-year old girl. Would be nice if it hadn't happened. Maybe next time will be different.

I knew cops who lost their lives trying to protect someone, too. Generally the someone who need protection didn't deserve it.

Posted by: Doc on July 25, 2005 11:40 AM

We had a case here about 10 yrs ago. A 16 year old kid was heartbroke because his girlfriend dumped him. He had a .22 rifle and was on a dam just popping random shots off at nearby buildings. Of course the police came and tried to talk him into putting the gun down and surrendering. He started taking pot shots at the cops. The sharpshooter that was on the scene shot him clean through the heart. Dead. Oh yeah did I mention the sharpshooter was his older brother? He knew full well it was his brother and still shot his ass dead. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Posted by: gravdigr on July 25, 2005 11:40 AM

Theres no such thing as a "warning shot" in police work. Period. Its "shoot to kill".

I naively asked the same question (why not shoot to kill?) when I first met my husband ( a police officer)

He explained that when the decision is made (to draw your gun) that its always a "shoot to kill" decision. (no such thing as a "warning shot")

At least the police academy he went to NEVER EVER advocated such nonsense.

If a cop draws his weapon, its meant to inflict deadly force. Period.

And all you yahoos who think you know different, go talk to a cop....or go apply to the police dept...(then attend the academy)

Posted by: Ruth on July 25, 2005 11:43 AM


I naively asked the same question (why not shoot to wound?)

Posted by: Ruth on July 25, 2005 11:45 AM

I was taught that if an officer has to draw his weapon expect to be shot. It's not the officers fault that you place yourself in the position of the agressor. We hire the police to protect us as a society then condemn them when they do their jobs. It's not the fault of the police that deadly force is required, it's the too liberal society that condones the actions that need policing in the first place. If the situation requires drawing the weapon then by all means use it, and not to "wing 'em", there will be less recidivism and wear on the revolving door of justice and a lot less lawyers needed.

Posted by: Jack on July 25, 2005 11:58 AM

My former department, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, forbid warning shots by rule.

In this situation, the subject was most likely going to do whatever it took to get the cops to shoot her. "Suicide by cop" never makes a good story to read in the paper, and it bothers most cops who get put in that position.

Nowdays, cops around here are carrying "less-than-lethal" weaponry, such as Tazers or beanbag shotguns. The problem with this sort of weaponry in such a close encounter is that it takes time to switch from LTL to your sidearm or long gun to apply lethal force.

So, by training, deputies are required to use lethal force when confronted by it. A knife is lethal force.

If the girl didn't want to die, she shouldn't have brought a knife to a gunfight, which is actually what happened, since the sight of the knife in her hand, and her refusal to drop it caused the gunfire.

The cop fired three rounds because they are trained repeatedly to do that. Cops don't shoot to kill, they shoot to stop the deadly threat they face. Statistics show that anything less than three shots into a crazed assailant's body will not guarantee a stop of that assailant's actions.

And yes, lots of cops have been killed by hesitating to shoot an armed teenager when they first saw the threat. Even shot by teen girls.

It's a tough world out there for patrol officers, and if they hope to retire like I did, they have to be VERY serious about reducing risk and threats.

Posted by: Rivrdog on July 25, 2005 12:35 PM

I recently rearmed myself. I was a gun owner and more or less a collector for some years. However, the laws changed in Florida where it was the rule that those using guns to protect themselves were prosecuted and the thugs released ( if not dead ) to win law suits against the ones using the guns. I sold my guns and started keeping baseball bats in strategic places around my home and businesses.

The laws are changing and I am too damn old to fight with a ball bat. Have no doubt that I can and will shoot to kill. Taking a life in defense of self and property is not a fault-it is a virture.

Posted by: GUYK on July 25, 2005 12:36 PM

I'm not a cop, but I took the concealed-carry class from a cop of 25 years' experience; and I've read a lot about police work and self-defense shooting. I'm also formally trained and certified for handling mentally ill people, and I'm sure the cops are too. Trouble is, a knife is a knife. You can't use the talk-down technique on someone who's coming at you with a weapon.

The pros are unanimous, and emphatic: NEVER fire a warning shot. You can be prosecuted for it (I recently read of just such a case, where a homeowner fired a warning shot and got busted for it. The shooter had justification to kill his aggressor under the circumstances, but the warning shot constituted reckless endangerment of everybody in town). Besides, it doesn't work; the effect on the bad guy's behavior is totally unpredicatble.

ALWAYS shoot to kill. If you shoot a limb, you're rolling the dice with the shootee's life anyway (femoral/brachial artery, anyone?). If you don't incapacitate the bad guy, he'll just shoot you back./detonate the bomb/stick the knife in you, whatever.

Sometimes it's appropriate to warn the bad guy and give him a chance to surrender without a fight. That's using a gun for something other than killing. I bet the cop in this case told the girl to drop it, but she didn't.

Posted by: dipnut on July 25, 2005 01:02 PM

When I went through training, I was taught that the weapon is NOT used as a threat or deterrent, that if pulled it's use should follow quickly. So for any groundhogs (criminal types) that might stop by this blog, be assured that if you see the cop starting to un-holster, you have milli-seconds to cease your behavior, drop any weapons and beg for mercy. When he clears the holster, he's going to shoot you at least twice, maybe 3 times (departments vary on that). If you keep trying to move, he will shoot you until you don't.

Posted by: Wayne on July 25, 2005 01:57 PM

Don't you have a blog to post on, Dipnut?

Hint, hint.

Wayne: Around here you're lucky if they don't empty the clip, reload, and start again.

Portland Police aren't very good shots.

Posted by: Sigivald on July 25, 2005 02:06 PM

I can hear Dipnut now: "I'm not a cop, but I spent the night in a Holiday Inn Express!"

You are too right, Sig...too many cops only fire their weapon for re-certification, and it can be laughable at times, until you think about it. These assholes are your backup!!!

That wasn't much of a problem in our upper East Tennessee SO, as most of us shot as a sport anyway.

I love it when I hear "6,327 shots fired, suspect wounded in thumb, 5 officers wounded by friendly fire." Makes you wonder......

Posted by: Wayne on July 25, 2005 02:55 PM

'"warning shot"? That dumb ass has never fired a gun, that is clear. A .22 bullet will travel a mile. Thye will not even allow hunting with high powered rifles (30-06 etc.) in Indiana, because the bullets can travel too far over the flat land. Where do you think the warning shot will go? Who or what will it hit?

There was a report after 9/11 that several Palestinians were injured when they shot guns into the air in celebration. The ragheads were too stupid to realize the bullets had to come back down. They shot themselves in the head.

warning shot indeed.

Posted by: hoosierboy on July 25, 2005 02:58 PM

Center of the visible mass!
Anything else is BS.

Posted by: ibm on July 25, 2005 03:27 PM

I don't call people fucking idiots often, but Glenda, you're a fucking idiot.

You always shoot to kill. There is no shoot to disable in policework. To put it simply, if it's so important that you shoot it it is important enough to kill. Otherwise, use another way to defuse the situation.

But that's right, she only picked up a knife once. Knife wielding mentally ill people aren't any threat to law enforcement.

Fucking idiot.

Posted by: Michael on July 25, 2005 03:59 PM

Michael, I'm waiting for the first cop to Taser a guy right in the bomb vest. I'm no engineer, but that sounds like a generally bad idea to me.

Posted by: Bane on July 25, 2005 09:14 PM

Just last Friday night I had a friend over. It was hot as hell so we had all the doors and windows open. It was around midnight, we had been drinking homebrew for a few hours, and our voices were getting louder than they needed to be.

We got talking about weapons, and I decided to pulled an old sword out of my closet to show my buddy. Around that time I heard a knock on my screen door, so I came walking out into the living room with the sword in my hand. It was dark outside and I did not recognize the figure standing on the porch. So with the sword still in my hand, and myself walking toward the door I called out, "Who's there?". The answer came back, "Tustin Police Department".

I froze instantly. I said aloud, "Good evening sir. I have a sword in my hand. I'm putting it down." And carefully set it against a wall. Then I backed off from it.

THEN I walked up to the front door to let the cop in.

Why? I'm not a criminal. I was doing nothing wrong, other than bothering a few neighbors with loud talk at midnight. I live in a nice area, I'm clean cut, the cop had no logical reason to believe that I was up to anything. So why was I so VERY careful about alerting the cop as to what I had and what action I was taking with it?

Because I'm not fucking stupid. A cop can't assume ANYTHING when they go to a stranger's house. I could have a hooker tied up in the bathroom. I could have just killed my buddy. I could be an escaped mental patient who doesn't even BELONG in the house. I could have been ANYTHING to him.

That's why he can only see me as a guy with a sword.

And If I'd have been dumb enough to walk up to the screen door with that thing in my hand, he'd have been RIGHT to blow my stupid ass away.

Posted by: Eddie on July 26, 2005 01:22 AM

Amen, Brother Eddie, amen.

Posted by: Bane on July 26, 2005 02:17 AM

"Because I'm not fucking stupid"

Yeah, pulling out a sword after drinking heavily sure seems intelligent enough.


Posted by: PJ on July 26, 2005 03:11 AM

Look who's talking.

Posted by: McGehee on July 26, 2005 08:02 AM

Y'all real tough boys here. But you don't know squat.
Y'all just stirring each other's ignorance.

REAL cops don't have to kill somebody just because they pull their guns.

And cops that do, in NYC, London, and cities around the world get into trouble if they do.

Shows how much you old farts know about anything. Hell if you didn't have a keyboard and a modem you'd be jerkin off.

Posted by: Glenda on July 26, 2005 09:01 AM

Dear, sweet, misguided Glenda...

I never had to pull my gun in my time as a deputy, could always defuse the situation in another way. The gun is always a last resort, but if I had ever had to pull it, someone was about to die. It's as simple as that.

Sometimes your life hangs on a split-second decision and you are the only one who can make that decision. Monday-morning quarterbacking is great for those who weren't there, whose lives weren't on the line.

I won't call you a fucking idiot because I don't think you are...I just think that it would be hard for someone that has never been there to really have an informed comment.

All the above may sound trite to you, but it's true. Think about it.


Posted by: Wayne on July 26, 2005 12:10 PM

Glenda you are ever so slightly ignorant. Cops worldwide shoot to kill. You mention cities around the world and I have to find one where the cops are armed and do not shoot to kill if they draw their weapon. There are departments that require the use of LTLW but if you look at the numbers you will find they have more dead cops than departments that do not.

I live in Houston, Texas and have been known to comment on news stories about someone attacking the cops and three of them getting injured while not shooting the guy that the guy was really lucky to have done that somewhere other than Texas because the cops here shoot to kill and are fairly good at it. Cops are like any other armed person. If they clear leather they damn well should be killing someone. A gun is a tool and it's job is to kill something. Anyone that tells you different wants to sell you something.

Posted by: flesh99 on July 26, 2005 08:35 PM

"Monday-morning quarterbacking is great for those who weren't there, whose lives weren't on the line.

I won't call you a fucking idiot because I don't think you are...I just think that it would be hard for someone that has never been there to really have an informed comment."

Does this standard of hypocrisy also apply to the fucking idiot running this country that has never been there (in a war), yet not only comments about being a war president practically every day, but sends others to go die in a war when he was too coward to fight in one himself? Just wondering where the line is for you wing nuts?


Posted by: PJ on July 27, 2005 04:13 AM

So Clinton was unqualified to take Serbia or consider reopening hostilities with Iraq in 1998, eh PJ? I'm glad you cleared that up.

Posted by: Brett on July 27, 2005 09:38 AM
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