Sunday, May 19, 2013

Only The Police Should Have Guns. They Have Training...

I really don't know what to think about this.

Hofstra student was killed by police, authorities say
MINEOLA, N.Y. – A Hofstra University student being held in a headlock at gunpoint by an intruder was accidently shot and killed by a police officer who had responded to the home invasion at an off-campus home, police said Saturday.

Junior public relations major Andrea Rebello was shot once in the head early Friday morning by an officer who opened fire after the masked intruder pointed a gun at the officer while holding the 21-year-old student, Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said.
The cop did hit the bad guy 7 times out of 8, which - given the performance of other New York cops, puts him in the top 1% for marksmanship. It's that 1 other shot that missed the bad guy that did it. Now, this is about as bad as it gets for any kind of confrontation shooting - the perp had a lengthy criminal history, an actual illegal gun (serial numbers filed off), and had the victim in a headlock while heading for the exit. This is a split-second decision made by the officer, and had that one shot not hit the victim, he'd be hailed as a hero with his excellent marksmanship held up as an example for all to emulate.

But he didn't. He missed with that shot, and the person he was trying to save was killed as a result of that miss.  Now, I wasn't there. It is absolutely possible that the bad guy was going to shoot the cop, keep going, and kill the victim later anyways. It is entirely possible that we'd have two dead innocents rather than one dead innocent and one dead goblin.

Unfortunately, in life the no-shoots don't just cost you points.

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)


Anonymous said...

why would it take 8 shots,even if they all hit him?? Good thing he didn't have 30

Bubblehead Les. said...

Two factors to consider:

A) Gravity. As the Goblin was hit, he was probably falling down/backwards, possibly dragging the poor girl down into the line of fire. Which maybe be a Silver Lining. How many of us just shoot at Targets, not taking into account that people fall down? Maybe all the Shooting Instructors out there should change their Syllabi to reflect that Gravity Sucks?

B). He was a former NYPD Cop, which we have all seen enough news stories to know how well they are trained in Shooting nowadays.

Of course, living in a Volksrepublik near a University Gun Free Zone didn't help, either.

May God watch over the Family.

Phssthpok said...

This is not the first time stuff like this has happened. Some years back (more than a decade ago IIRC) in Portland, Or. the was a similar situation with said goblin holding a boy with knife to throat and flat out declaring "I'm cutting him now!".

Cop shot. Goblin down, but sadly boy down too. HOWEVER, autopsy revealed that goblin wasn't bluffing. Bay had beginnings of very deep (definitely lethal if completed) cut on neck.

No shoot = guaranteed death of boy.

Kobyashi Maru scenarios DO exist, sadly, and sometimes bad things happen to the undeserving.

Ed said...

You have it wrong in "the person he was trying to save". He was trying to save himself. Once the armed intruder turned his gun on the officer the only response is to move to cover, if any, or shoot. it takes longer to read that last sentence than to decide the next move. Unfortunately, it appears that the officer did not have either sufficient nearby cover or sufficient skill to fire without hitting her. If the officer did not fire, the officer would be dead. If the officer fired too much away from her head missing the armed intruder's head, the officer would be dead. Sometimes you do not get that "Goldilocks" shot in, especially during an adrenaline dump. Take your best performance on a range and degrade it by a factor of three. When that five inch group becomes a fifteen inch group and you are trying to hit the center of a six inch target (the width of the armed intruder's head) or die trying, then you shoot, and continue shooting until the armed intruder is dead, or you are.

That is why you train as if your life depends on it, because it does. This scenario, like most armed encounter scenarios, sucks. At best, you do not win, but you may survive, regretting that you did not do better.

TigerStripe said...

Anonymous 10:34 - One stop shots mainly happen in movies and sniper kills.

I think the lesson of this story is not the marksmanship of the officer resulting in the death of the hostage but the "Call 911" theme pounded into citizens heads.

The use of a firearm owned by one of the residents in the home probably would have turned out better than it did by calling 911.

Roger said...

With respect to many well trained and competent police shooters. It is my observation that most police officers are not capable handgun shooters. Most are barely able to hit a target 15 meters away and struggle to maintain "qualification".
It is a standing joke that if a police officer is shooting at you, you should stand still and have a better chance.
Not to say that some officers are not excellent shots, as some of my friends are, but that the training and shooting expectations of the average officer is poor.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

No win scenario. I'd challenge the top level IDPA competitors to do better in that situation - I bet their skills would degrade when someone is pointing a gun at them with intent, too.

The officer showed the appropriate restraint by not firing until the bad guy forced the issue, and then not shooting to slide lock when he was forced to shoot. If he hadn't shot, he'd be dead, and probably the hostage would be dead, and the killer would have run off and probably put even more people in danger.

I hope the cop gets the best counseling available. He'll need it.

Sailorcurt said...

Ed beat me to it. I'm sure the cop would have liked to have saved the victim, and I'm sure he's distressed that it turned out the way it did, but the bottom line is that he fired to save his own butt when the perp turned the gun toward him.

instinct said...

What would you have had him do, Sailorcurt? Perp turns his gun on you and that doesn't leave you with very much of a choice now does it?

Sailorcurt said...

Didn't say he shouldn't have shot, just making the distinction that I don't think he was a hero who was selflessly trying to save the victim and just got unlucky...I think he was a typical human being who, when faced with danger, reacted instinctively to save his own life and the welfare of the victim wasn't even on his radar screen at that point.

I'm sure after the fact he was upset by what happened, but I don't for a minute believe that, at the time he pulled the trigger, he did so to save the victim's life.

I'm not necessarily saying that it was the wrong decision, I wasn't there and have no idea if he may have had other options. I'm just making an observation.

instinct said...

Just an observation that assumes the worst about the person in question.

You have no proof, no reason to believe this, but to you he was just another selfish asshole who didn't give a damn about anyone but himself - do I have that right?

And are you saying that he wasn't facing any danger when he walked into that in the first place?

Geodkyt said...

How does it assume the worst about a person? Self-preservation is the ultimate right, and can be a duty in many cases for "designated protectors".

Just as "dead paramedics rescue no one" and "dead soldiers kill no commies for Mommy", a cop facing a murderous predator who just stands there and gets dead protects NO ONE; not the current victim, nor anyone else this animal encounters after killing the cop.

Assuming the officer shot to preserve his own life is NOT assuming the worst about him -- it is:

A. Acknowledging he is human.

B. Acknowledging that he followed training and doctrine not to eat a bullet when he had a chance of putting the dog down.

C. Accepting that the very best way to save this hostage (and any potential subsequent hostages) is to save his own life.

Sorry, don't get how dealing in facts and realistic estimations is calling someone a "selfish asshole".

Not everyone who does the right thing is a hero, not everyone who tries to do (but fails) the right thing is either a hero or a zero, and not everyone who is doing something primarily for for their own benefit a villain or zero.

Life isn't binary.

instinct said...

No, it's not binary and I didn't say it was. But I'm also not the one who said "but the bottom line is that he fired to save his own butt" or "reacted instinctively to save his own life and the welfare of the victim wasn't even on his radar screen at that point."

He fired because he was left with no choice. Once the perp decides to point his weapon towards you, the police officer, you HAVE to shoot because you have run out of options.

It's not about "Saving your own butt" it's about reaching a line that the bad guy decided to cross and you have only ONE way to respond to it and if you think there was some other way I would be real happy to know what that way is.

Geodkyt said...

No, it's about saving your butt.

Because the other option is to suck bullets.

If, in the process of saving your own life, you happen to save a particular victim, GREAT! (For one, that means you shut the bad guy down instantly.)

But ultimately, whether or not you do succeed in saving the victim, the appropriate response, the one trained into cops (for damned good reason) is "save your butt".

That doesn't make it somehow an inferior or "selfish" choice. It's the correct one.

The police are not truly a protective force, unlike the Secret Service Presidential Protection detail. They are a reactive one, who protects society by apprehending criminals afterwards so they don't hurt anyone else. While trying really, really hard not to catch a bullet (unlike the Detail).

Sometimes, every rarely, to they get the opportunity to, and manage to, positively protect a particular individual in the course of the crime.

In this case, he couldn't.

Note -- if he was truly trying to save the victim, he would have taken his time and taken a single, carefully aimed brainstem shot.

Of course, having neither the Script God nor standoff distance and a sub-MOA rifle at his disposal, that would have been the wrong choice, as the odds he would end up sucking a bullet while the bad guy freely killed the victim AND got away to kill again.

Somtimes, the "selfish" choice is the "correct" one. In fact, it's ususally the correct one in a firefight, precisely because the variables are so out of your hands, you need to concentrate on the most easily achievable solution with a reasonable chance of success.

Closest analogy I can think of is military medicine -- the best first aid is "Win the firefight."

It's not like this cop was just going all Hollywood Hosemaster on the landscape, and hit the victim through negligence.

sailorcurt said...

I'd love to contribute to the discussion, but I don't think I could have put it any better than Geodkyt already did.

Reading into what I said based on your own preconceptions and biases does not change what I actually said.

I have nothing against cops, the vast majority of them are good, honorable people engaged in a challenging, difficult job. But I don't put them up on a pedestal either. They are human beings, subject to the same strengths and weaknesses as any other human being.

Doesn't make them bad or good, just makes them people.