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Second guess Deadly Force Situation

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  • Second guess Deadly Force Situation

    Those of you that have had to use deadly force or have been subjected to someone attempting to shoot you, did after the fact you start thinking what you may have done wrong. Did you think that maybe your tactics, appearance or demeanor have anything to do with it. Did you think what would make this guy think he was good enough to kill me. A few weeks ago I had a convicted paroled murder pull a handgun on me during a traffic stop. I am not traumatized or anything like that. Heck it didn't even really scare me, just ****ed me off. Not trying to sound like a tough guy, far from it. No shots were fired, I was able to disarm him. However I did take it personnel, real personnel! I just keep wondering if it was something about me myself or was this guy just a stupid a-- Anyone who has had a similar situation did you go thru these type of thoughts? I am not trying to toot my horn with this and hope other officers can learn from it. The guy is going back to prison for the rest of his life. (hopefully) Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions.
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

  • #2
    Ive been in more than my share of near shootings. Getting angry is totally natural and very common. Yes, I've had the second thoughts. I've gone over the tactics employed and how the situation developed many times. This is a vital skill that all officers should learn to do. Better yet, is to discuss your thoughts with a trusted partner. By critically disecting one of these events, you will learn and be better adapted to respond the next time. Even if you did everything right, you will learn from going over it. The only exception is goign over TOO much and for the wrong the reasons. Don't beat yourself up over it.
    Originally posted by kontemplerande
    Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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    • #3
      I'm curious as to what made you "disarm" him and not use deadly force...or did you pull your weapon and he followed your commands??
      Moooooooooooo, I'm a goat

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      • #4
        Any officer is going to re-hash incidents & try to figure out the hows & whys of it all. Just don't beat yourself up over it. I had a friend that had EXACTLY the same thing happen to him. After he had the guy all cuffed up he asked him why he wanted to shoot him. The suspect's response---"It just seemed like the thing to do!" I SWEAR THAT WAS HIS ANSWER . You did good---you made it home & he didn't die---be grateful (and relieved)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JSD73 View Post
          I'm curious as to what made you "disarm" him and not use deadly force...or did you pull your weapon and he followed your commands??
          I was so close and it happened so fast. He made a rapid move from a standing position back into the vehicle and I just grabbed his arm, when his arm came up it had a handgun in it. I thought about pushing away and drawing but wasn't sure I had enough time. Plus there was people all around. It was a gamble and luckily I won. PM me if you would like more. This is still a fresh case. ( Two weeks)
          "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

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          • #6
            Originally posted by hemicop View Post
            Any officer is going to re-hash incidents & try to figure out the hows & whys of it all. Just don't beat yourself up over it. I had a friend that had EXACTLY the same thing happen to him. After he had the guy all cuffed up he asked him why he wanted to shoot him. The suspect's response---"It just seemed like the thing to do!" I SWEAR THAT WAS HIS ANSWER . You did good---you made it home & he didn't die---be grateful (and relieved)
            Thanks and Believe me I am. I just keep wondering what made him think he could come out ahead. Thats what boggles my mind. I think it's made me a little paranoid.
            Last edited by j706; 05-13-2007, 02:16 AM.
            "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

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            • #7
              Originally posted by j706 View Post
              Thanks and Believe me I am. I just keep wondering what made him think he could come out ahead. Thats what boggles my mind. I think it's made me a little paranoid.
              I understand that totally. Nobody likes being in a shooting, no matter what they say to the guys over a few beers. It's frightening and shocking. Why do these guys think they can get away with it? Because, sadly, they do all to often. T.V. and the internet are filled with videos of brother and sister officers getting killed. This gives these POS's the idea that this is ok to shoot us.

              I know that paranoia feeling, the second guessing and the reliving of the moment over and over. It never reallly goes away, just kinda slides in the back of your mind.
              Carpe Noctem

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              • #8
                You went home safe = you did it right.

                I had a very similar situation a couple years ago; I went to a call at my next door neighbor's house and he pulled a shotgun on me. The only reason he's still alive is he fumbled with the shotgun while he was trying to bring it to a firing position which gave me the 1/2 second necessary to pull my OC and paint him orange (with the Glock pointed in, of course).

                I second guessed myself, but I came to the conclusion I did it right. I think I could have done it better; ie: I should have shot him. I learned from it.

                Take it apart, learn from it, thus making yourself more prepared for next time.

                And don't listen if you hear some rookie say "Why didn't you shoot him? I would have shot him." If someone wasn't there, they don't have the right to second guess you (unless they have a pretty gold badge and sit behind a desk).

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                • #9
                  Second guess deadly force

                  The first consideration is that you came home at the end of your shift. Anything else is really secondary. Certainly, the shooting has to be legal, and yes, within department policy. There is nothing wrong with an after action review that seeks to improve your initial judgement or your tactics. What I feel most of us object to is the self rightious, judgemental, totally ignorant considerations of most of the media, the poverty pimps, and the self proclaimed experts, who wouldn't have the guts to do our job if their lives depended on it. At the end of the day, YOU had to make a decision. If you're any kind of a person, you'll probably always ask yourself if you did the right thing? That's the essence of the very special person we call a cop. The average gang-banger, or violent criminal never asks that question, yet he's always the victim in the minds of the Dudley-Do Rights. That's where our priorities seem to be a little screwed up these days.

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                  • #10
                    I had a nearly identical thing happen to me probably 10-12 years ago except in a residence on a disturbance call. The guy had his hands in a sweatshirt pocket and wouldn't follow commands. We dog piled and I had the right arm. When it came out of the pocket it had a .38 attached. I got it away with no shots fired. I don't remember ever really second guessing what I did; but, I remember to this day being more shook up emotionally about that incident than anything else I've actually been in including getting beaten within inches of my life, getting cut, getting shot at, etc etc. My wife will verify that one as she still brings it up sometimes when we're talking shop because she doesn't understand why it shook me up anymore than I do. We all have our own fears and emotional triggers I guess. Maybe on a different day I wouldn't have cared at all. I really don't know. Base analysis of the whole thing though is simple. Cops went home, bad guy didn't = successful mission.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the input guys, The brass have been perfect. They asked if I needed time off ect. (No need for that) So all's well that ends well. Now if we can just get the guy convicted. That you can never be certain of todays legal environment. I have had a lot of officers say " man I would have shot him" don't know about everyone else but the last thing I want to do is shoot someone. I would, but I had rather not. We are not in the business of killing. Luckily the incident did not require shooting and that in my mind is not a bad thing.
                      "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DesertRat View Post
                        I had a nearly identical thing happen to me probably 10-12 years ago except in a residence on a disturbance call. The guy had his hands in a sweatshirt pocket and wouldn't follow commands. We dog piled and I had the right arm. When it came out of the pocket it had a .38 attached. I got it away with no shots fired. I don't remember ever really second guessing what I did; but, I remember to this day being more shook up emotionally about that incident than anything else I've actually been in including getting beaten within inches of my life, getting cut, getting shot at, etc etc. My wife will verify that one as she still brings it up sometimes when we're talking shop because she doesn't understand why it shook me up anymore than I do. We all have our own fears and emotional triggers I guess. Maybe on a different day I wouldn't have cared at all. I really don't know. Base analysis of the whole thing though is simple. Cops went home, bad guy didn't = successful mission.
                        Were you mad? Seems like I have been ticked off for two weeks now. It seems like all my calls now are petty little chicken s----stuff and it anoys the heck out of me. I had a deposition two days after this on a simple OWI and ended up giving the defense d--- a verbal lashing. I have never even came close to doing that before. I guess He's a dick anyway.
                        "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

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                        • #13
                          You always wonder if there was a different way to do it. But again the only thing that matters is that you went home.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by POPO-FLA View Post
                            You always wonder if there was a different way to do it. But again the only thing that matters is that you went home.
                            I think my wife was a little bummed by missing out on the 500k LODD benefit. She's one of our dispatchers. Seriously you are correct, gave all three kids a little extra hug that night.
                            "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

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                            • #15
                              Critical Incident Part of the Job

                              I've had three shootings over the 30+ years on the job, the last one resulted in a fatality to the suspect and it occurred a little over a year ago. Second guessing yourself or reliving the experience is a normal response to a life threatening incident. Just think of it as nature's way of preparing for the next incident, should one occur. If we care about doing our job well and survival, we always try to improve our performance. This should occur during less threatening incidents too, but obviously a situation as stressfull as yours amplifies the reaction accordingly.

                              In the days, weeks and months following my last shooting, I mentally relived the incident at least every hour. When I wasn't preoccupied with something else, I recalled the incident. Obviously this isn't a good thing, but at least in my situation time has improved my reaction. I don't think about the incident as often now and it's become a less and less important part of my life. Obviously many mental health professionals might refer to this or similar situations as PTSD, but life in general and a career in law enforcement in particular involve "traumatic stress" incidents. Understanding this enables one to learn from the experience and move on. I'm sure a year from now you'll be feeling much better about the incident and how you reacted to it.
                              "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

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