Let me start by saying that in examining this stop, I am not trying to talk badly about the officer here. I know nothing about him. That said, we’ve all done things over the years that when we look back on them, we realize how bad our tactics were. My intention in examining this is so that others will stop and think, and not repeat what was done here. Thankfully this officer’s injuries were not life threatening, but they very well could have been. And, while not life threatening, I’d be willing to bet they might be career ending.
Thankfully, the driver of this car is in custody now. He is “just a teenager” at 17 years old, and I’m sure family and friends will comment about “what a good kid” he is and how he was just starting to get his life straight before this officer made him do this, or some other such nonsense. It is clear to any rational person that a good kid does not do stuff like this.
It is almost like I am a prognosticator or something because according to one of the news articles I read, “Two parents of the suspects have filed excessive force complaints on behalf of their sons in the case because Anderson fired shots.” <sarcasm> Wait, the officer used deadly force against someone using deadly force on him? How dare he! </sarcasm>
And last, before delving into the discussion on tactics, I’d like to say how thoroughly disgusted I am by every single one of the people who just sat there in their cars after the suspect vehicle plowed this officer and fled. No one got out of their cars to help and no one was with that officer until the next responding officer arrived. People suck!
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at what happened here. I don’t know the circumstances around this contact, and honestly, for sake of this discussion, it does not matter. Watch the brief video first.
First, the officer rolls up to the car which is stuck in traffic at this point, and based on his actions, he is clearly after this particular car. The car is obviously trying to get away from him too, which you can tell by how it is off and on the brakes trying to move forward. Also, at this point, this officer is the only officer on scene. There is absolutely no reason at all that he should have been attempting to handle this stop solo, especially not where it was taking place. We know other units were on their way because one shows up moments after the suspect vehicle fled. He should have waited for his cover unit(s). Not only does he put himself in significant danger by attempting to deal with this solo, but he put the lives of the occupants of all the other cars surrounding him in danger too because if he had to fire his weapon, those other cars are his backstop.
Next, even if you were going to try and handle this particular situation at this intersection by yourself, why on earth would you approach that car like he did? This was happening during darkness which means by staying behind the car, in addition to making the suspects turn to address him, he also would have been protected from view by his lights which would be shining in the suspects eyes. Not only did he leave what little cover his car offered him and approach the car, which we know is occupied by at least 3 persons, but he actually walked well past the driver’s door and put himself in front of the suspects taking away all the tactical advantages he would have had by staying behind them and out of the direct line of sight.
Finally, when the front passenger seat suspect foot bails, rather than staying with the car, the officer runs in front of the suspect vehicle, between it and the car in front of them, which is a place you NEVER, EVER want to be. Sadly, what happens next perfectly and graphically shows why this is a place you never want to be. The suspect vehicle accelerates hitting the officer, and likely based on the vehicle positioning, squishes both of his legs between the suspect vehicle and the car that is stopped in front of it, which gets pushed into the intersection as the officer rolls up the hood of the suspect vehicle while firing his weapon twice.
Like I said at the beginning, I do not know anything about this officer. I have no idea how long he has been on or what he has done during his career. And honestly, none of that matters. He could normally be the baddest ass, most tactically sound guy on the department, but during this incident, I suspect he let his adrenaline override his rational brain and what we see here are the results. Like I said, we have all done stupid things at times. I know I have stopped myself a time or two and said to myself, “whew, glad that worked out.” I suspect many of you have had the same thought if you have done this job long enough. It is with that in mind, and trying to avoid instances similar to this, that I am critically examining this video.
Let’s all be safe, and smart, and go home to our loved ones in one piece.