In a discussion on a law enforcement officer’s Facebook page, I came across a common response to officer-involved shootings during an arrest:
“As a police officer, you have to wonder — why would someone ignore commands at GUNPOINT to get to a certain location?” [what is so important that they will look down the barrel of a gun and blatantly disregard lawful commands]
I thought it was important to shed light into what goes on in someone’s (anyone) head before they pull the trigger. It’s NOT race. It’s not gender, age, sexual orientation, religious belief. It’s simply this, “is this person going to keep me from going home today?”
I agree with him, but only to a point.
In fact, immediately following the Kajieme Powell shooting in St. Louis in 2014, local law enforcement were quick to post a bystander’s video in the hopes that it would set the record straight. Unfortunately, most people who have never been an armed confrontation jumped to all sorts of wild conclusions, including believing the shooting was unwarranted, that the suspect was unarmed, etc.
I spent the entire night translating the video to text and adding small bits of commentary where appropriate.
The resulting post proved invaluable on various message forums discussing this incident, as it highlights the misperceptions and misconceptions, leaving little to the imagination while clearly delineating why the officers needed to fire: The deadly knife-wielding suspect charged them.
On the other hand, I’ve also seem a number of videos where a suspect clearly suffering from some sort of physical disability that renders certain movements difficult, slow, or impossible, is pushed, shoved, punched, kicked, and beaten, even after finally arriving at the commanded position.
Bottom line, no matter how high the adrenaline rises — on either side — for a successful outcome both law enforcement and suspects must recognize, know, and most importantly, demonstrate understanding, professionalism, and restraint.
Despite the undesirable outcome, that occurred in the Kajieme Powell shooting. They gave him plenty of time to comply, and his response was to rush them while wielding a knife, with obvious consequences.
In the other videos to which I have referred, I’ve seen rampant brutality resulting from a suspect whose only crime was that they didn’t respond at the same adrenaline-fueled time dilation that was occurring in the minds of the responding law enforcement officers.
What law enforcement officers often either do not understand or respect can lead to abysmal outcomes:
1. Under adrenaline-fueled situations, the time dilation experienced by responding officers can easily exceed a factor of 10. That is, they will swear under oath they gave a suspect at least five seconds to respond to multiple commands, whereas video shows the commands are strung together in a nearly unintelligible one-second burst with half a second between the last command and the officer’s first physical action taken against the suspect.
2. Behavioral scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists all concur that under extreme duress of rapid onset, roughly half of all human beings exhibit an evolutionary “freeze” response — even (especially) in the face of yelled commands. At other times, the survival instinct that kicks in involves either a slow retreat or a rapid defensive attack (law enforcement officers are not immune). These known and often-demonstrated phenomena are shared with many other creatures throughout the animal kingdom, and is likely a major component as to why suspects “ignore” commands. In fact, these very deep-rooted, even instinctual behaviors are not acted upon by any conscious determination of the suspect. They are literally “fight-of-flight” behaviors deeply ingrained into the sub-conscious part of the brain.
In fact, as a career military aviator, one who has seen more than my fair share of combat, I have experienced all of these phenomena. A fair amount of our emergency procedures training, however, is specifically designed to replace these evolutionary behaviors, which could easily prove deadly in the aviation environment, with measured responses designed to maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome. As one who holds a masters in Management Science, I find the evidence strongly suggests these outcomes can be significantly improved by incorporating modern behavioral science into the response matrix usually employed by most law enforcement departments and agencies.
In light of the above, law enforcement could greatly enhance their own safety, greatly reduce personal and departmental liability, while greatly improving positive outcomes of various confrontation if they took some time to study all three phenomena, along with modifying their approaches to conflict in order to take these well-known, proven phenomena into consideration, incorporating them into their own trained responses.
PREFACE: Former FBI Special Agent K. Dee McCown wrote an open letter to Department of Justice head, Eric Holder. Even though it’s just over one year old, the letter is going viral as it apparently resonates with the vast majority of American citizens.
NOTE FROM EDITOR: I found this letter posted on a number of different websites. I reviewed several fact-checking websites, and it appears this letter is genuine. McCown has a LinkedIn page where his credentials are substantiated. I can find no posting where McCown himself denies writing the below letter. If I discover credible information to the contrary, I will remove this letter. In the meantime, I have no rational reason to assume this letter is anything but genuine.
K. Dee McCown
College Station, Texas
December 28, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder,
It is unlikely that we met while I served in the FBI. That being said, we served at the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the same years and on the same “team” conceptually speaking. During my service in the FBI I worked with a number of U.S. Attorney Offices in the United States to include a tour at FBIHQ where I worked with the Department of Justice (Main) on a daily basis.
I begin my letter with this comment to highlight that I am not a bystander on the topic of law enforcement in the United States. I worked and managed a variety of federal investigations during my 12 years of service in the FBI, to include the management of several Civil Rights cases in the State of Texas. In fact, during my last tour in the Bureau, I was an FBI Supervisor responsible for managing federal investigations in nine (9) Texas counties, many of which were rural; in places where one would suspect racism to flourish given the narrative often pushed by Hollywood and urban progressive elites like yourself. I performed this mission diligently and under the close supervision of two FBI managers; an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) and Special Agent in Charge (SAC,) both of which happened to be African American and outstanding law enforcement professionals. I also performed this mission serving side by side with a variety of law enforcement agencies at the Federal, State and local level.
I have observed you closely during your tenure as Attorney General and notably during these last tumultuous years; watching you negotiate a number of controversial public matters to include the ATF Fast and Furious scandal, Black Panther Party intimidation at voting booths, IRS targeting of American citizens (citizen groups opposed to the Obama Administration,) the ignoring of US Immigration laws, DOJ criminal indictments of select news reporters and your management of several high profile criminal investigations involving subjects of race, notably African Americans.
Until today, I chose to hold my tongue. However, with the assassination of two NYPD Lieutenants last weekend in New York City, at the hands of a African American man with a lengthy criminal record, fresh from his participation in anti-police activities; coupled with numerous “don’t shoot, hands up,” and “black lives matter” anti-police protests (some of which are violent) occurring daily around the nation, I am compelled to write you this letter.
To be blunt Mr. Holder, I am appalled at your lack of leadership as the Attorney General of the United States and your blatant politicizing of the Department of Justice. Your actions, both publicly and privately, have done nothing to quell the complex racial issues we face in our country and have done everything to inflame them. As the “top cop” of the United States, you share in the blame for much of the violence and protests we are now witnessing against law enforcement officers honorably serving throughout our nation.
During one of your first public speeches as Attorney General you made it a point to call America “a nation of cowards” concerning race relations. That speech, followed by other public announcements where you emphatically opined that the odds were stacked against African Americans in regard to the enforcement of law, your intention to change the law and permit convicted felons to vote after incarceration, and your changes to federal law ending “racial profiling,” are poignant examples of how detached you remain from the challenges faced by law enforcement officers serving in crime ridden neighborhoods throughout the nation.
These opinions are also indicative of a man that lives and works in the elitist “bubble” of Washington D.C.
Your performance, as the nation’s Attorney General, during the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Florida and the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri clearly highlights your myopic view on this topic. Contrary to your embarrassing prejudgment in the Brown case and evasive post trial remarks on the Martin case, neither Brown nor Martin were targeted and/or killed because of their African American race.
Rather, as non-emotive investigations determined, both teens died as a consequence of their own tragic and egregious behavior; behavior that involved a violent assault on a law abiding citizen in the Trayvon Martin case, and a violent assault on a young police officer in the Michael Brown case. Yet you, as the number one spokesman for law enforcement in the country, blame the deaths of these men on years of institutional racism and the alleged epidemic targeting of African American men by police departments around the country; nothing could be further from the truth. Following the Michael Brown case Grand Jury decision all you could muster was the following comment: “The Department of Justice is currently investigating not only the shooting but also the Ferguson police department in what is called a “patterns and practices” inquiry to determine if the police department has engaged in systematic racism.”
So, let’s get this straight. At a decisive moment in history when our nation required a strong and unbiased voice from its’ senior law enforcement official, you Mr. Holder, made it your personal mission to join with other racial antagonist and politicize a tragic event, accusing a young white police officer of a racially motivated killing in what we now know was a justified self-defense shooting of a predatory felon. Your behavior is unbelievable. You sir, have sacrificed your integrity on the altar of political expediency. You, Mr. Holder, are the “coward” and hypocrite you so loudly denounce when speaking of broken race relations in America.
Further to this point Mr. Holder, law enforcement officers around the country remain dismayed and shocked at the counsel you keep; that being your close relationship with none other than Al Sharpton, a racist “shake down artist” who spreads hate, divisiveness and the promotion of anti-law enforcement sentiment throughout the country; a tax evading fraudster who has unbelievably visited the White House over 80 times in recent years. It is simply beyond my comprehension as a former federal law enforcement professional, that you, the Attorney General of the United States, joined arms in common cause with a charlatan like “the Reverend” Al Sharpton; and it speaks volumes to your personal character and lack of professional judgment.
Violent crime, out of wedlock births, drug abuse, rampant unemployment and poverty found in many low-income minority neighborhoods are not a result of racist community policing and racial profiling as you so quickly assert, and frankly most law abiding Americans are exhausted of hearing this false narrative repeated time and again by you and others in the racial grievance industry. While no one, me included, would ever suggest that African Americans have not suffered from institutional racism in the past, I would strongly argue that we no longer live in the Mississippi of 1965, nor do we live in a country that even closely resembles the “Jim Crow” South of yesteryear. Those days, thankfully, are in the past as are the generations of Americans that supported such egregious behavior and endured such suffering.
Rather, Mr. Holder, we live in a day and time where the root cause of many problems faced in our African American communities can be attributed to the breakdown of civil order due to the rejection of institutional and family authority and the practice of counter-culture values; and most notably, from the absence of strong male leadership in fatherless black families. The reason that our local police officers are so often entwined in tragic events in black communities is because it is the police that have filled the void in these communities that should be occupied by moral and strong black men leading family units with Godly values. You, Mr. Holder, especially, should be thanking the police rather than persecuting them for the gap they fill in these communities because if it were not for the intervention of local police many African American neighborhoods would be in a state of total anarchy.
Yet tragically, you and your race-baiting colleague Al Sharpton (a paid media personality under contract with MSNBC news) choose to remain silent because to publicly speak this self-evident truth threatens to not only alienate and offend the most loyal voting constituency of the Democratic Party but diminish your and Al Sharpton’s self-serving power base in these suffering communities. God forbid that you would suggest individual citizens accept responsibility for their own behavior and the collective failure of their communities; it is so much easier for you and others like you to make excuses, play the victim card, and pander rather than address the real root causes that plague many low income neighborhoods.
Mr. Holder, the public is aware of FBI statistics that tell a different story than the one you and Sharpton preach. We know that young African American males, representing a tiny fraction of the U.S. population, are by far the greatest perpetrators of violent crime in America when compared to their peers in other ethnic groups, and, we know that citizens of African American descent overwhelmingly make up the majority of their victims. We also know that incidents where white police officers shoot and kill black perpetrators are rare and on the decline. We know further that although there are legitimate and bona fide Federal Civil Rights investigations in the United States worthy of pursuing, they are miniscule when compared to the false narrative portrayed by you, President Obama and Sharpton declaring rampant discrimination against African American men by police officers throughout the country. You are just plain wrong.
In closing Mr. Holder I will leave you with this thought; you were given a rare opportunity to lead with integrity during a variety of divisive and controversial issues during your tenure as the 82d Attorney General of the United States and rather than be a man of moral courage you chose instead to cower, further inflame racial tensions, advance false narratives and play progressive political activist.
Time and again you chose to “politicize” the mission of the Department of Justice rather than pursue justice and now, tragically, we are witnessing the fruits of your irresponsible behavior in the murder of two innocent police officers in New York City, assassinated by a man motivated by the flames of racial hatred that you personally fanned. How many more police officers will be injured or die in the coming days because of the perilous conditions you helped create in this nation. You, President Obama and Al Sharpton own this problem lock, stock and barrel and now it is your legacy.
As thousands of NYPD officers turn their collective back on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, another dishonest politician and Sharpton disciple, so too do countless Federal law enforcement officers turn our backs on you.
K. Dee McCown
FBI (1997 – 2008)
CC: Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Ted Cruz
Senator Harry Reid
The Honorable Bill Flores
The Honorable John Boehner
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
“…a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King
The 2014 elections are by far the most important elections to date of this century. Despite governmental reassurances to the contrary, America is tottering over the brink of economic collapse. Vote wrong, and we most certainly will lose. Vote right, and we might be able to haul her back from the edge.
As a registered Independent, I spent all afternoon Sunday reviewing not only the positions, but also the voting records of all 21 positions (42 candidates — half Republican, half Democrat) on my ballot. Given my “preaching” here on Facebook, I wanted to be absolutely certain I was electing the best candidate for each position, and not just “voting party line.”
I based my decisions mostly on their voting records. The criteria was simple: Had they supported and defended the Constitution, “the supreme Law of the Land,” as per their oaths of office? Or were they perverting our government by actions which undermined our Constitution and the rights and freedoms it recognizes and protects?
It was close in only 5 of the 21 open positions. The other 16 positions were slam-dunks.
In ALL cases, however, the records of the Republican candidates made it clear they stood for our rights and freedoms, while the records of the Democrat candidates made it clear they stood for bigger government at the EXPENSE of our rights and freedoms.
Sunday’s exercise was yet another of countless confirmations that the Democrat Party itself is no longer American, that it has been usurped by a mix of communists, fascists, socialists, muslims, opportunists and just plain idiots, to be used solely for the purpose of pulling the wool over the eyes of mostly lower to middle-class voters in order to remain in power, raise taxes, and siphon off a great deal of our hard-earned tax dollars into their own pockets and those of their friends.
To be fair, some Republicans are doing this, too, but I continually find they’re doing so to a far lesser extent.
Bottom line: I remain an Independent voter, yet cast all my votes towards the Republicans. My decisions were not based on the color of their party, but on the content of their character.
I’ll leave you with one last observation. Five years of digging into what goes on behind the curtains in both parties have lead me to conclude what the Democrats say about the Republicans are largely lies, often made up on the spot, and that the elements in the following graphic are largely true:
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican, not a Democrat, and for many very good reasons which are even more sound today than they were back then.
As reported by Fox News on October 15, 2014, the United Nations has issued an ultimatum to the United States of America: Control Ebola or face an unprecedented situation.
What the UN means by “unprecedented situation” can be found on the UN website (http://un-influenza.org/?q=content/un-response), in their response plan for the Avian Flu, under Objective 6: Continuity Under Pandemic Conditions: “Ensuring the continuity of essential social, economic and governance services, and effective implementation of humanitarian relief, under pandemic conditions.”
Reading between the lines, as well as observing their response throughout other nations, this includes the mandatory implementation of the UN’s other agendas, most notably confiscating all firearms for the “safety of all response workers.”
Similar indications can also be found on the World Health Organization’s website, in their Global Alert and Response (GAR) page (http://www.who.int/csr/en/): “Coordinate and support Member States for pandemic and seasonal influenza preparedness and response.”
Again, reading between the lines, the WHO brings the doctors, while it’s parent organization, the UN, brings the muscle.
This is further echoed in their August 28, 2014 Ebola Response Roadmap (http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/131596/1/EbolaResponseRoadmap.pdf?ua=1).
This document clearly states it’s purpose on page 5: “To assist governments and partners in the revision and resourcing of country-specific operational plans for Ebola response, and the coordination of international support for their full implementation.”
While they tie their “country-specific operational plans” to the “Ebola response,” the fact remains that an OPLAN is an OPLAN. It’s an Operational Plan. That’s military lingo for how an organization intendeds to accomplish its mission, and their specific intent for the United States of America comes through rather glaringly in Objective 2 on the same page:
2. To ensure emergency and immediate application of comprehensive Ebola response intervention in countries with an initial case(s) or with localized transmission.
The key activity of Objective 2: “Coordinate operations and information across all partners, and the information, security, finance and other relevant sectors.
The most alarming aspect of this document, however, involves their definition of “security:”
Security: where necessary, and particularly in areas of intense transmission and short term extraordinary containment measures, national/local authorities must plan for and deploy the security services necessary to ensure the physical security of Ebola facilities. National/local authorities must give particular attention to ensuring the security of the staff working in Ebola treatment centres, Ebola referral/isolation centres, laboratories and, if required, for teams working at the community level to conduct surveillance, contact tracing and safe burials.”
I have no problem with ensuring the security of Ebola treatment facilities. The question is, under Obama’s management, will it ever stop there? What legislation is in place to prevent overbearing law enforcement from pulling the same crap as the New Orleans Police Department pulled on American citizens immediately following Hurricane Katrina?
Since Day 1 at their training academies, American law enforcement officers have been taught to “control, control, control.” When you put them into a widespread situation, many of them are overwhelmed. They fall back on their training without any regard for the Constitutional implications that what they’re doing is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. It might be suitable for a localized riot. It is NOT suitable for widespread chaos. This was most dramatically exhibited when SWAT teams busted down door after door after door in Boston immediately after the marathon bombing.
Did they respect our Constitutional rights? No. THEY BLEW RIGHT PAST THEM.
Again: What U.S. Federal Legislation is in place to ensure that NEVER happens again? What penalties are in place for local, county, state, and federal law enforcement officers, as well as augmenting forces like the National Guard, to prevent them from crossing the line?
Comments within the document such as “repurpose existing programmes [sic] to support control efforts” with respect to “security” indicate they have ZERO intention of respecting our Constitution.
What’s next? The widespread confiscation of firearms “for your safety?”
Here’s a thought: Instead of assuming Americans are idiots, let’s try another route: Education. Let Americans do what we do best: Control ourselves.
In 2012, immediately following the Mountain Shadows flare-up of the Waldo Canyon fire, I and all other residents of my apartment complex were denied access to our domiciles for five full days, despite the fact that residents in homes on either side of us were allowed to return after just TWO days. We were told it was for our “safety,” despite the fact we were no less safe than those homeowners.
THAT CRAP HAS GOT TO STOP.
Again, Congressman Lamborn: What legislation, specifically, do you have in place to ensure these rampant denials of our Constitutional rights NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN?
With few exceptions, We the People are perfectly capable of controlling ourselves. We’re well aware of the risks to both ourselves and others, regardless of what Obama is saying to the contrary.
All we need are clear and unambiguous guidelines. We don’t Obama lying to us in pathetic and misinformative attempts to calm our nerves. Older generations grew up during the Cold War. Younger generations watch The Walking Dead every week. Let’s get real!
As a retired USAF Officer, I remain well-trained in CBRNE operations. Most of my neighbors do not have my training, but given the fact this is a military town, there are a LOT of us scattered throughout the community who do.
Even those who are untrained, however, know the risks. If they’re told to limit travel for food and work, use hand sanitizer or wear and discard gloves, keep their shoes in the garage, and wipe down all doorknobs and other touched surfaces with a soap/water/bleach solution, I’m pretty darn sure they can handle that!
I can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end of the United States of America.
By refusing to close our borders and by bringing in infected individuals, Obama is INVITING a UN takeover of our country. He’s long been looking for a way to either ditch or circumvent our Constitution, and I believe he may very well have found it.
UNLESS, of course, laws exist which clearly limit the scope of his many executive orders, most of which were drafted during his first term, yet clearly targeted to give him absolute dictatorial authority over our nation in times of crises — whether those crises were unavoidable, or, as many of us believe, manufactured by Obama himself.
On October 15, Dr. Ben Carson said, “We’ve known for a long time that [Ebola] has this kind of potential. That’s the reason that several weeks ago I said it was a real mistake to bring infected people in to this country in any way.”
“The wise man takes the fight to the enemy. The foolish man allows the enemy to bring the fight to one’s doorstep.”
Our borders are porous and the enemy is bringing the fight to us. All the MRAPs in the world won’t stop an enemy that has numbers on its side. Truly closing the borders, however, as Governor Rick Perry is attempting to do, will severely crimp their style.
Law enforcement agencies are getting a lot of equipment with little or no training on how to use it. As any military aviator can well attest, C-130 aviators spend about four months (17 weeks) learning the basics of how to fly the mighty Herk, but at least a year learning and integrating the various tactics, techniques and procedures it takes in order to become proficient in combat — and that’s just the beginning. Continuing education never ends. The reason they call it a profession of arms is because it’s not an occupation. It’s something you study throughout your entire career, for the cost of failure is exceptionally high. Law enforcement is also a profession, for much the same reason. The local police academy, for example, is one of the best, and candidates spend 24 weeks learning their profession, along with another year on the job as a rookie finishing their training. The actual overlap in tactics, techniques, and procedures between the two professions, however, is quite small.
Law enforcement academies may actually teach the 9 principles war: mass, objective, offensive, surprise, economy of force, maneuver, unity of command, security, and simplicity. Expecting law enforcement to be able to skillfully apply these principles in the urban warfare environment, however, is a bit like asking your average member of the military to skillfully conduct day to day police patrol and investigative operations while remaining within the law. We just aren’t trained for it, just like they’re not trained for urban warfare.
There’s a reason each branch of the Armed Forces has its own military police force. They have police training. We don’t. Similarly, when it comes to urban warfare, which is what you’ll have if a thousand angry Muslims descend on Anytown, USA, local law enforcement just aren’t trained to handle it, no matter how many MRAPs they’ve been given. Individual encounters, small crowds, even mobs and riots, yes. Coordinated attacks conducted en masse, military style, by trained professionals, heck no, They’d put up a good fight, but they’d lose, even in MRAPs.
It all has to do with John Boyd’s OODA Loop.
“The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, developed by military strategist and USAF Colonel John Boyd. Boyd applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations. It is now also often applied to understand commercial operations and learning processes.”
The underlying issue is that military and law enforcement differ in several key respects, not merely training. Their “implicit guidance and control” comes from two seriously different schools of thought. What and how they observe in any given environment will differ because they’re observing through two different filters: training and experience. That’s just the observation phase. Three of the five components in the Orient phase will be different. Their differing implicit guidance and control in the Decision phase will differ as well, and finally, their authorized actions in the Act phase will be different, too.
My point is that military equipment isn’t the answer. If anything, without the proper training, it’s likely to lead those who use it into a dangerous and false sense of security, if not a less civic mindset. Training alone, however, doesn’t begin to address the serious differences between these two groups. Guidance and control are different, as are heritage, cultures, experiences, decisions, and actions.
Cops are not military. Military are not cops. You can dress them up the same, but beneath the helmets, body armor, uniforms, and skin, they’re seriously different entities.
Besides, and on a closing note, why spend five times as much on training as the equipment when you can just call in the National Guard, who not only has the proper training, but many of whom have the requisite experience, as well?
Both the video and the audio are clear, steady, and in HD format. There’s no mistaking this one, folks. Total kudos to the videographer. Even though he’s using a cell phone, he does a fantastic job of keeping the video extremely steady for a cell phone.
I spent more than 90 minutes pulling every detail possible from 104 seconds of recording, using my talents as an audio/video enthusiast to slow things WAY down. I threw the video in HD on a large (24″) high-res (1920×1200) monitor with a 5.1 sound system several times, taking copious notes. My narrative is given below, in stage/movie script format, with video times on the left.
There’s a LOT going on, here, with at least 25 distinct comments made in the last 20 seconds alone, and with significant overlap in the last ten seconds. Try playing the video while reading along with the script, and you’ll see what I mean!
Note: I’ve taken significant care to mask the cursing.
Before you tackle the video and script, what lessons can we, as people who open carry firearms, learn from this event?
00:00 – (Video begins. NV speaking, walking slowly along the sidewalk towards the store and Kajieme Powell): So like, my homeboy just came and got me, and he said, “dude has just totally sold out the store.” (NV laughs). And he like, “F*** this.” He like “dude sellin…” Damn, this s***’s craaaazy.
00:23 – (NV steps off sidewalk into a parking lot next to the store in question). This s***’s cra… he f*****… what’s up? He’s cra… he just stole two sodas, like “f*** them I’m going to drink ’em.”
00:31 – (NV steps from the adjacent parking lot to the store’s parking lot). Hell, nah.
00:37 – (NV begins stepping to the edge of the store’s parking lot). He says straight, “put ’em on the ground, bro,” like daring sombody would touch ’em. Hell this s*** crazy.
00:44 – (unknown speaker, possibly the driver of the white pickup truck). All right man, head on down,
00:46 – (different unknown speaker, possibly Powell). All right, get out the f*** (unintelligible). Get the f*** way, f*** away from me. ****, I’m going to list the ground… I’m on facebook, you know who I am… I’m tired of this s***.
00:54 – (NV chuckles nervously). You tired, heh-heh… This the store, when the store do…
00:58 – (bearded man in red ball cap, horizontally red and and white striped shirt with red collar, black and silver watch, jeans, and red Nike shoes). Whas up, Mike?
00:59 – (NV). This craaazy.
01:02 – (NV). Whas up? Whas up?
01:10 – (Man in faded purple Route 66 T-shirt with off-white pants, black ball cap with purple Nike emblem, brown shoes with black laces and soles, something crumpled in his right hand). Brother, this not how you do it, bro. Know what I’m sayin’?
01:13 – (large man in brown collared shirt with orange R logo, bald, small beard element, black pants). Ain’t that (unintelligible, but sounds like, “Dunham”) boy, though.
01:15 – (NV). No doubt. The police gonna pull up. You see… Ya’ll call the police?
01:20 – (bearded man in red ball cap). Ya, I doin, yeah.
01:21 – (man in faded purple shirt). We called ’em, yeah. We didn’t want (unintelligible).
01:24 – (NV). You banging (could be ganging) up?
01:24 – (red ap or purple shirt, simultaneously with NV’s 01:24 statement). Come on, bro…
01:25 – (Driving officer). Take your hand out of your pocket, man.
01:26 – (Riding officer). Get your hand out of your pocket!
01:27 – (NV). Has he got his gun out?
01:28 – (Powell). Shoot me!
01:28 – (Driving officer). Take your hand out…
01:28 – (Powell). Shoot me!
01:28 – (Riding officer). Drop it.
01:29 – (Riding officer). Drop it.
01:29 – (NV). Oh, s***…
01:29 – (Powell). Shoot me! Shoot me!
01:31 – (NV). Oh, s***…
01:32 – (Powell). Shoot me!
01:33 – (Powell). Shoot me now, motherf*****!
01:34 – (Driving officer). Drop the knife.
01:35 – (NV). Oh, s***…
01:36 – (Riding officer). Drop the knife.
01:37 – (NV). Oh, s***…
01:38 – (either red ball cap or purple shirt). Come on, bro! Drop it, bro!
01:40 – (first of seven gun shots fired from gun A)
01:41 – (last of seven gun shots fired from gun A)
01:42 – (first of two more gun shots fired, sounds different than gun A)
01:42 – (last of two more gun shots fired)
01:43 – (lady in the background). Oh, s***!
01:44 – (unknown). Damn!
1. Any deciphering the details in the script, particularly “So like, my homeboy just came and got me, and he said, “dude has just totally sold out the store” (could be “stole out of the store”) and Powell’s later comment, “I’m on Facebook, you know who I am… I’m tired of this s***,” it appears the NV knew Powell. He certainly knew the man in the red ball cap, who addressed him as “Mike.”
2. According to The Guardian, “St Louis metropolitan police undertook to release the recordings of the Powell case quickly, hoping to make the circumstances clear and minimize its potential as a further catalyst for rioting and confrontation between crowds and police.”
Good for them!
3. Newsweek states, “Fewer than 20 seconds elapsed from the time police arrived on the scene to the time they shot Powell. The two officers fired 12 shots at Powell, according to police chief Sam Dotson.” I counted just nine shots fired, even when I slowed down the audio and analyzed it graphically. Gunshots appear as very sharp, high, and short spikes. I hope to put up the graphical gunshot analysis soon. Working with a new program…
As for Newsweek’s claim of 20 seconds, here’s my perspective:
01:25 – (Driving officer). Take your hand out of your pocket, man.
01:40 – (first of seven gun shots fired from gun A)
That’s fifteen seconds between the initial communication/contact with the suspect and the first shot fired. When you count from when the police cruiser turned the corner at 1:14, that comes to 21 seconds.
When I heard about the shooting, I thought, “Oh, no, here we go again…” and assumed this would be a slam-dunk case of police brutality, excessive force, or bad training. Even the first time I saw the video I thought the same thing. When I turned up the volume and ran through it a few times, however, I realized what the police were seeing and hearing were significantly different than what a casual observer might see in the video. That’s when I decided to put forth the effort to come up with a complete script, one that was as accurate as humanly possible.
Through that process, I saw and heard what the officers were seeing and hearing. They were responding to a 911 call of shoplifting. Arriving at the scene, everyone was behaving normally except for one visibly agitated individual with at least one hand in his pockets. They ordered him to remove his hand from his pocket and he comes up with a tightly-held knife, is taunting the cops to go ahead and shoot him. He backs off then comes back at them.
Knives can be deadly. Even with immediate and top-notch medical attention, there are knife wounds from which you simply cannot recover. “Assault” is an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. It’s carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. Thus, approaching another in a threatening manner while brandishing a weapon is assault with a deadly weapon. Thus, the officers were fully justified in their use of deadly force to protect life and limb while facing imminent and reasonably credible threat.
Now, let’s address all the second-guessing about why they didn’t use tasers.
First, they’re not as reliable as firearms. Loose clothing can easily block a taser dart from reaching the skin, particularly if the loose clothing is heavy. The suspect’s hoodie was partially zipped, leaving a small V of viable area between belly and neck in which to obtain a clear shot.
Second, if I were facing an assault with a deadly weapon and had the option of reaching for a taser vs reaching for a firearm, I’d opt for the firearm. If the taser failed, I’d be seriously injured, if not dead. The firearm is far less likely to fail.
Thus, even if they were carrying tasers, I think the officers made the right choice to use firearms in that particular situation.
Getting back to their use of multiple rounds, my military combat training is different than their law enforcement training. In a combat situation, you might be facing a much larger number of attackers than most law enforcement officers face while performing their duties. The conservation of ammunition is a very real concern. Thus, in combat, if a target is somewhat distant, you shoot from cover, and use only one round. Hit your target and repeat as necessary to neutralize the threat. If an attacker is coming at you, we were taught, “two to the heart, one to the head, repeat as necessary until they’re dead.” Even so, that’s just three rounds and reassess. I hear some some police are taught to keep firing until they’re no longer moving, while others are taught to empty their magazines. I cannot attest as to the truthfulness of either, but the video showed at least nine distinct shots fired, and the police chief said it was twelve.
Regardless, the suspect started falling after the third round, hit the ground with the fourth round fired, and three more were fired as he rolled towards the officer. After a brief, half-second pause, two more rounds were fired. In all, at least nine shots were fired in two seconds. That’s nowhere near enough time for an accurate assessment on the part of the officers. The suspect caused these events to unfold when he assaulted them with a deadly weapon, and it really doesn’t matter whether they fired three times or twelve. He forfeited all right to life when he initiated the assault.
“Why didn’t they just shoot him in the leg?” That’s just absurd. First, the area below the waist is more than 50% open space, so even attempting to do so creates a serious possibility of a ricochet that would either injure or kill a bystander. Second, even if the shot found it’s mark, shots in people’s limbs rarely stop an immediate attack. It’s highly likely that even with two rounds in each upper thigh, the suspect would have continued to press his attack, injuring or killing at least one of the officers. Thus, the leg shot is dangerous for the officers, dangerous for bystanders, and stupid all around.
No matter how many times I run through the video, I can’t spot anything which suggests it was anything other than an appropriate response and a good shoot. Textbook.