The Dangers of Intervention and Threat Management
I had a conversation today with a police officer friend of mine who recently had a sticky situation. It emphasized to me that things are often not what they seem and that our firearms are used much more often for threat management than for shooting.
Popo – I’m rolling on domestic call. I stop the car and it’s active, they’re knocking the shit out of each other. Male half gets out if the car screaming ‘she’s got a gun,’ he runs off. I pull my Beretta 92, start moving around so I can see her more clearly. It’s 0200, dimly lit area.
I see her in the passenger seat, hunched over, moving her right arm in a way that looks like someone running the slide on a pistol. I bring 92 the up, flip the decocker/safety off, start pressing the trigger with the front sight centered on her ear. I’m yelling at her to put her hands up.
The hammer is starting to move back when she sits back, puts her hands up and they’re covered in blood. She was sawing a hole in her wrist with the tip of a nail file.
I really think the safety plus a long trigger pull saved me from shooting her. I was positive she was trying to charge a pistol. I would have been screwed; bad shoot all day. Especially in this political environment.
CW – Did she have a gun at all? Do you think he was trying to get you to shoot her?
Popo – She never had a gun, I think he was trying to get me to kill her. She was transported to the ER for a psych evaluation due to her statements and cutting herself.
CW – That’s what it sounds like to me. “Homicide by cop.”
Popo – Yeah, I’ve been in a lot of close ones but that one made me lose sleep over what would have come next.
CW – What was the outcome with him?
Popo – he went (in) for felony domestic battery (due to her being pregnant). He also had warrants and cocaine in his pockets.
I’m more concerned with private citizen self-defense than police action, and the two do operate under different constraints and circumstances.
But what I primarily take from this is that the scene may not always be what you think it is.
I know a lot of people who consider themselves to be sheepdogs. So many people want to get involved, to be the hero. I hear this in conversations, I see it posted online all the time. I don’t fault people for having this attitude, and frankly I wish more people did have it because it shows a love and care for one’s fellow man. A willingness to be involved, to help others, to protect others. This is a good thing.
Alas, when shit’s unfolding, our heart is pounding, our mind is racing, and everything is zooming past… can we adequately assess a situation?
A common scenario I like to throw out is that you roll up to the local stop-and-rob, and as you step up to the doors someone runs out followed immediately by a second person. This second person points towards the first, yells something like “he just robbed the place!” then runs off in the opposite direction.
What do you do? What is your assessment of the situation?
And does it occur to you first guy might be totally innocent guy trying to distance himself from the situation, and it was really second guy that robbed the place and was merely distracting you so he could get away?
Or, maybe the first guy was the robber.
How can you know for sure?
What if you were in a park and saw someone mounted atop another, giving him the old ground and pound? Should you stop the guy on top? What if I told you he was a father that just stopped his child’s (attempted) abductor, and he was dishing out a little fatherly justice? Would you stop him now?
I’m not saying what you should or shouldn’t do in these particular situations, merely trying to point out that your first impression may be a wrong impression. Or it may be a correct one. You cannot know, and you cannot get involved unless you do know, else you open yourself up for a lot of risk and liability.
Yes, we can get back to premises such as beer & tv or merely “is it worth dying for?”. Is getting involved in someone else’s problems going to lead to good things or bad things, and you really need to consider the complete and mundane impacts it will have upon your life (every day for its remainder). And unfortunately taking such attitudes tends to run counter to a hero mindset, because now you are being selfish and choosing to not get involved. But is this really a bad thing? or is it about finding a balance between getting involved when you know you should, and staying out when you know you shouldn’t.