Category Archives: Incident Analysis

Breaking Contact (Part 3)

#fridayfundamentals

The CCW Safe https://ccwsafe.com/ series about my concept of Breaking Contact continues with Part 3.

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/34532

Part 2 of the series focused on situations where the concealed carrier initiated contact. Part 3 focuses on incidents where the carrier was initially approached and failed to take the opportunity to Break Contact.

I hate platitudes when they’re used in an attempt to simplify a complex topic into a sound bite. “Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six” is one of the most commonly parroted sayings in the firearms community. While many times we are presented with the optometrist’s question, “Which is better, A or B?,” decisions that are made in advance and are going to affect the rest of our lives seldom are binary. I like to think we’re smarter than parrots that have been trained to say one or two things.

As Shawn points out, the decision process has several more options.

When the goal is not necessarily to kill or disable a would-be attacker, a defender is open to other options that carry less legal risk and may produce more positive outcomes.

When breaking contact is the goal, sometimes it is better to disengage rather than attempt to de-escalate.

My personal paradigm is:

  1. Avoid
  2. Escape
  3. Confront
  4. Resist

Any attempt at de-escalation, even when benign, is a part of Confront. Disengage is part of Escape. Escaping is higher on my priority list than Confronting.

Similarly, in the Gerald Strebendt incident, he unnecessarily moved up the paradigm from Escape to Confront. A confrontation inherently carries more risk associated with it than an escape. As John Hall, former head of the FBI Firearms Training Unit put it:

Any encounter carries with it an element of chance.

My initial post about Breaking Contact (Part I) is located here:

The second is here.

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below. The detailed investigations and reports of incidents involving off-duty LAPD officers are very instructional for understanding the differences between Avoiding, Escaping, and Confronting.

3X3X3 – Level One

Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards has been discussed in the context of gunfights since the 1970s. It is the most commonly cited statistic about gunfights.

Practicing to hit the silhouette every time using the 3X3X3 basis is Level One of learning to shoot the drill well. It is a good baseline for entry level shooters and those who have never measured their performance.

Level One – hit a silhouette consistently

Level Two – hit a sheet of paper consistently

Level Three – hit a half sheet of paper consistently

Level Four – hit a quarter sheet of paper consistently

The dry practice drill was discussed in a previous post.

Here’s the live fire version.

When I wrote Real Shootouts of the LAPD, I wasn’t surprised that NYPD Lt. Frank McGee was pretty much on the mark when he first described it. Almost all of the off-duty shootouts fit into that statistic.

A related note is that I fired about 100 .22 Long Rifle rounds through my 317 snub with a standard (8.5 lb) mainspring. There was not one Failure to Fire during the session. Ammunition for my .38 is precious and hard to come by so I used the .22 for demo purposes. For those who think that was cheating, I also shot with my SCCY CPX-2 9mm.

If you would like to purchase my book about actual shootouts that are not a figbar of someone’s imagination, click on the image below.

Decisions and experience

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.

Although incorrectly attributed to Will Rogers, the concept of learning from other peoples’ experience rather than our own still has value. We can use the Intelligence community’s technique of ‘walking back the cat’ to de-construct an incident. This allows us to visualize it and learn from the experience of someone else.

The concept of ‘Decision points’ has been emphasized by both Gary Klein, PhD., a noted expert on the decision-making process, and President George W. Bush. Any drama contains not just one, but a sequence of decisions and decision points we can study.

The Don’t Shoot/Shoot decision is the one most commonly focused on the training and firearms communities. However, any Defensive Gun Use, whether shots are fired or not, contains a plethora of decisions and decision points. These occur before, during, and after the shooting or display of a firearm takes place.

A rich source for walking back the cat is the Categorical Use of Force reports by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners. The following is an analysis of one incident by an off-duty LAPD officer. The analysis will use the phases of an incident as described in my book Real Shootouts of the LAPD. http://realshootoutsofthelapd.com

The incident began as an Aggravated Assault on an LAPD off-duty officer. The full report by the Board of Police Commissioners, including its Findings about Tactics, Drawing and Exhibiting of a Firearm, and Use of Lethal Force can be found here. http://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/011-11_Harbor-OIS.pdf

Incident Summary

The Situation

Officer A, who was off-duty, walked to his vehicle parked in the driveway of a residence. He did not see anyone around at the time. His duty weapon was in the right front pocket of his pants. After driving out of the driveway, he backed his vehicle up and left the lights on. He then walked back to the gate to close it.

  • Decision point — Leave home armed with his weapon on his person or at least accessible? Even for POlice officers, this is not as absolute a decision as it would seem, as can be seen in other LAPD off-duty incidents.
  • Decision point — Close gate (initial entry barrier to home) or not? As mundane as this decision seems, many people leave their garage doors open when they drive away from their home.

The Buildup

Officer A saw the Subject walking on the sidewalk coming toward him. The Subject then began to run toward Officer A. As the distance to the Subject became closer, Officer A saw the Subject had a handgun in his hand. The Subject pointed the handgun at Officer A.

  • Decision point — Maintain awareness of surroundings or focus on telephone or other attention divider?
  • Decision point — Maintain surveillance on the suspect or not?
  • Decision point — Recognize and accept that an armed attack is imminent or not?

Drawing and Exhibiting

Officer A drew his service pistol from his pocket.

  • Decision point — Draw own pistol or not?

The Gunfight

Immediately after drawing his pistol, Officer A fired one round at the Subject.

  • Decision point — Don’t Shoot or Shoot?
  • Decision point — Fire in place or Shoot on the Move?
  • Decision point — Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference?

The Subject seemed unaffected, so Officer A fired a second round at the Subject.

  • Decision point — Don’t Shoot or Shoot a second time?
  • Decision point — Fire in place or Shoot on the Move?
  • Decision point — Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference?

After running past Officer’s A car, the subject collapsed on the sidewalk behind a short block wall.

Post Gunfight Actions

Because he could not see him and wanted to wait for responding officers to arrive, Officer A did not approach the Subject.

  • Decision point — Approach the suspect or not?

Officer A retreated to cover at the house and called 911.

  • Decision point — Hold position or retreat to cover?
  • Decision point — Call 9-1-1 or do something else?

While he was calling 911, Officer A observed another male come over to the Subject, squat down, then stand up and adjust his shirt. The second male then walked away.

  • Decision point — Interact with/challenge the secondary suspect or not?

Two other males walked to the fallen Subject, leaned over to look at him, and then walked away.

  • Decision point — Interact with/challenge the tertiary suspects or not?

There are also implied decision points subsequent in the drama but were not elaborated on by the BOPC.

  •  Actions on approach of responding officers.
  • What statements, if any, should be made to responding officers and then to detectives.
  • Whom else to notify about the incident; Significant Other, etc.
  • Retain an attorney or call pre-paid legal assistance plan.

At least 21 decisions/decision points are readily discernible in this incident. There are perhaps even more, despite this being a relatively uncomplicated DGU. Also note that of the 21, only six (Don’t Shoot or Shoot [X2]), (Fire in place or Shoot on the Move [X2]), and (Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference [X2]) can be readily practiced with live fire. Those and another, (Draw own pistol or not) can be practiced dry. The other two-thirds of the decisions are more in the nature of ‘soft skills’ that are best decided upon in advance and then practiced away from the range.

“Best decided upon in advance and practiced away from the range” represents our opportunities during the current ammo shortage. Rather than sit on our hands because ammo has become so precious, we can begin developing and practicing a more complete repertoire of the skills we need for Personal Protection. If you would like to read my analyses of the rest of the incidents described in the book, please subscribe to me on Patreon. Patreon link I will be posting the rest of them there.

Using Cover Effectively

#fridayfundamentals

Active Self Protection recently made a good video about last December’s murder of a retired Chicargo firefighter during a carjacking.

Unfortunately it won’t embed because it’s Age Restricted. If you care to watch it, this is what to search for.

John made an important point in his video that bears reiteration and amplification.

Appropriate and effective use of cover is an important tactic in protecting ourselves.

John Correia

Things to keep in mind about using cover.

  • Cover protects us from bullets and contact weapon attacks.
  • Any cover can be defeated, either by adequate weaponry or by maneuver.

Here’s my initial video commentary about the situation. It wasn’t as simple as it looks at first glance.

Whether the second Carjacker would have shot LT Williams will never be known but it cannot be discounted as a possibility. There’s a good chance he was the leader of the crew and probably very dangerous. It wasn’t his first rodeo.

The incident provides a good example of the difficulties faced when dealing with multiple attackers. LT Williams was in a very difficult position as a result of this attack. We will never know if he even saw the second armed Carjacker and could have realized that he was vulnerable to being flanked. This was a well-rehearsed Carjacking crew with a good SOP. One comment on the YouTube video about the incident opined that this same crew had tried to Carjack him earlier and he had only escaped by luck.

Here’s the complete video of the incident on YouTube.

Disregard the TV station’s gauche and inappropriate invitation to Like and Subscribe at the end.

This was the funniest comment on the YouTube video. It’s unclear which person the comment is about.

Another of John’s points was that it’s important to keep in mind our mission. As Armed Citizens, we don’t need to get the bracelets on a criminal, we just need to force a Break In Contact and then go home.

My first LAPD Shootouts book is based on off-duty incidents at home. It provides a great deal more documentation and explanation of what Home Defense with a firearm really looks like than news reports. The lessons learned apply whether you’re a POlice officer or an Armed Citizen.

Even more about Skill Development

‘three shots, three yards, three seconds,’ https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/skills-conversation-about-lapd-shootouts/ has generated some good discussion and questions, which makes me happy. Someone posted a question on the Facebook page for Growing Up Guns.

Nothing was said about whether this done from a low or compressed ready, or from concealment, as far as the par time. Being LE based info, I’m assuming this was done from a duty holster. Thoughts?

It’s a progression, just like the size of the target. When someone is first learning to shoot, do it from Low Ready, muzzle below the feet of the target, finger off the trigger. Once a shooter achieves some degree of proficiency, which I would personally define as being able to consistently hit the quarter sheet, then branching can begin. Others might be satisfied with hitting the full sheet consistently as a standard.

There are numerous possible branching variations.

  • From the midpoint of the drawstroke.
  • From the holster. Take your pick of open, concealed, or Level III Security.
  • Primary Hand Only from Low Ready
  • Support Hand Only from Low Ready
  • Etc.

I use the term ‘midpoint of the drawstroke’ rather than ‘compressed ready’ because I’m not a fan of muzzling suspects prior to making the SHOOT decision. If the bore is parallel to the ground, there’s almost no way to avoid muzzling others. From that perspective, the idea of having the bore parallel to the ground as a ready position is purely “square range” thinking.

For those who are feeling exceptionally froggy, try stacking all three targets on a single silhouette. Shoot all three targets as one string using three round magazines and reloading between targets. Obviously, your time will be more than three seconds. Keep in mind that the second most missed shot is the first shot after a Stoppage Clearance. Reloading is a Stoppage Clearance so you’ll have two opportunities to maintain your focus.

The end outcome, consistent hits on a variable sized target, is the focal point of the drill. There are numerous tasks that can achieve it, most of which have value.

Click on the image below to order Real Shootouts of the LAPD.

A Real Hero Story

#walkbackwednesday

My favorite story from Real Shootouts of the LAPD is a hero story. Recently, it’s become fashionable to berate POlice officers, imply that everything they do is horrible and corrupt, and call for the POlice to be ‘defunded.’ Rarely does the media focus on the heroic acts that officers are sometimes called upon to do for the public. This story is one example.

OFFICER-INVOLVED ANIMAL SHOOTING – 035-14

http://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/035-14_Outside%20City-OIAS.pdf

The entire Public Report is available at the link above. Here’s a synopsis of the incident.

Officer A, later identified as Officer Jennifer Aguila, and her companion Officer B were off duty and had just arrived home from grocery shopping. When they arrived home, Officer Aguila noticed two neighbors outside their home acting frantically.

Officer Aguila went over and asked if they needed help. One neighbor replied that he was locked out of his house and his pit bull dog was attacking his four year old child inside. The neighbor said the back door was open but apparently it was not readily accessible from the front of the house because rose bushes blocked off the back yard. Officer Aguila immediately took action. She jumped over the neighbor’s fence and picked up a small stick.

Since the animal was a pit bull, Officer Aguila told Officer B to bring her an off-duty snub nose revolver from the car. Officer B brought the revolver and tossed it over the fence to Officer Aguila. She then made her way to the back. To get to the back door, she had to plow through the rose bushes that blocked off the yard.

Through the partially open sliding back door, Officer Aguila observed that the floor was covered in blood and the pit bull was next to the child, attacking it. According to the Board of POlice Commissioner’s report, “the pit bull was removing and eating the child’s flesh.”

Office Aguila discarded the stick and scanned the room for other dogs but saw none. The BOPC report reads:

Officer A moved into the living room with the revolver in a two-hand low-ready position. In defense of the child’s life, Officer A fired four shots at the pit bull in a northwest direction at a downward angle. Officer A fired on the move, from a decreasing distance of approximately twelve to seven feet.

LAPD Board of POlice Commissioners

To save a child’s life, she made entry, closed with, and did battle with a large, vicious, literally ‘man-eating’ dog. Her weapon was what is commonly referred to as an “arm’s length gun,” a snub nose revolver.

After the first four shots, the badly injured child stood up and, in a disoriented manner, began to walk toward the dog. Fearing the wounded animal would again attack the child, Officer Aguila then closed to within three feet of the dog and used her final round to deliver a coup de grâce into the dog’s rib cage.

Officer Aguila then picked up the child, went outside, gave it to its parent, and had them call for a Rescue Ambulance. When the parent was unable to provide first aid for the child, Officer Aguila took the child back and applied direct pressure to the child’s wounds until the ambulance arrived.

If that’s not a hero, I don’t know who is.

News reports https://www.dailybulletin.com/2014/07/08/fontana-family-pit-bull-mauls-4-year-old-child/ indicate that the child was badly injured in the attack. Both his ears were severed, one completely, and one left hanging by a strip of flesh. The severed ear was found under the dog by another officer. The child also had numerous puncture wounds to the head and face. Odds are that without Officer Aguila’s intervention, he would have been killed. The severed ear was successfully re-attached by surgeons because the officer who found it immediately put it on ice and took it to the hospital.

The BOPC Public Report says the Officer Aguila had been an LAPD officer for 2 years and 7 months.

Not all the stories in the book are hero stories but that one is. I enjoy stories about real heroes so I had to include that one.

Link to my store

Real Shootouts of the LAPD – The Book

Any time a Los Angeles Police Officer fires his or her weapon, whether on or off duty, a thorough investigation of the incident is conducted and then reviewed by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners. The Board has provided unprecedented transparency by posting Summaries of those investigations for every firearm discharge since 2005.

This book is a collection and analysis of those reports. They are stories of Officer Involved Shootings, Officer Involved Animal Shootings, and Unintentional Discharges drawn directly from those reports. The Public Reports also include the Board’s Findings (rulings) as to whether the incident was In Policy or Out of Policy. Contrary to popular belief, not all LAPD Shootouts are ruled to be In Policy.

For the Armed Citizen, these reports and the analyses provide valuable information about what really happens before, during, and after the gunfire. This first volume covers Off Duty incidents so the situations are very similar to those faced daily by The Armed Citizens. This book gives us the opportunity to learn from the experiences of highly trained police officers about what to do when criminals come for you.

For those who are just interested in the challenges police officers face, this is also a book you will enjoy.

Click the image below to purchase the book. 

Click the image to purchase the book

Duel at the Dumbster (Part VI)

Something similar to the Snow Murders happened several years ago. I call it Duel at the Dumbster and wrote a series of articles about it.

Part I https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/lessons-from-the-duel-at-the-dumpster-part-i/

Part II https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/lessons-from-the-duel-at-the-dumpster-part-ii/

Part III https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/lessons-from-the-duel-at-the-dumpster-part-iii/

The Snow Murders prompted me to find out what had transpired for the shooters in the meantime. Whoops, Covid affected the father and son also. Their trial has been delayed indefinitely.

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/crime/article242568611.html

The Dumbster Fire video was previously available on LiveLeak, entitled Two Fat Hillbillies Kill [Man whose mouth writes checks that his ass can’t cash] Over Garbage but it doesn’t seem to be available there anymore. Fortunately, the star-telegram update article also includes the full video of that foolish confrontation and killing.

Unlike Jeffrey Spaide, who committed suicide after killing the Goys, no doubt the legal fees for the Millers are continuing to run. Even if they are found Not Guilty, they will be in hock to their lawyers for the rest of their lives.

The year after the Duel, I made a visit to the site as part of my trip to the SHOT Show.

Duel (Part IV)

https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/the-tactical-professors-shot-show-odyssey-part-ii-site-visit-to-the-duel-at-the-dumbster/

Duel (Part V)

https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/the-tactical-professors-shot-show-odyssey-part-iii-site-visit-to-the-duel-at-the-dumbster-continued/

 “There are men in this world,” [Don Corleone] said, “who go about demanding to be killed. You must have noticed them. They quarrel in gambling games, they jump out of their automobiles in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender, they humiliate and bully people whose capabilities they do not know. I have seen a man, a fool, deliberately infuriate a group of dangerous men, and he himself without any resources. These are people who wander through the world shouting, ‘Kill me. Kill me.’ And there is always somebody ready to oblige them.”

–Mario Puzo in The Godfather

More surreal than I thought

I rewatched the video of the Snow murders. It was even more surreal than I initially realized.

Lisa Goy got her phone out of her pocket after Spaide re-emerged from his home. Once she had the phone out, she said “Go ahead” three times as she closed the distance toward Spaide. She held the phone up in the air. Between Spaide’s sixth and seventh shots, she said, “You’re on video.”

Spaide then fired his seventh shot, which hit James Goy. Lisa Goy then holds the phone even higher as she takes another step toward Spaide. Note her foot placement as compared to just before her husband was shot.

Spaide then shoots her with his eighth shot.

As someone said, it’s like they were in separate realities at the moment. Sort of like Tenet.

Someone correctly commented on my Facebook post, “Your last words shouldn’t be ‘Go Ahead!'” To which I added, “Or ‘You’re on video.'”

Your car is not a holster (again)

Someone entered the unlocked vehicle

Gun, other police equipment stolen from Salina officer’s personal vehicle

https://www.ksal.com/police-equipment-stolen-from-unlocked-car/

“Meanwhile, two more unlocked vehicles were broken in to [sic] in Kipp overnight, as well as one parked in front of a rural Kipp residence. “

In case anyone wonders what ‘Kipp Kansas’ (population <500) looks like, here’s a Google satellite view.

Kipp is part of the Salina, Kansas micropolitan area, a Census Bureau area consisting of two COUNTIES of Kansas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salina,_Kansas_micropolitan_area The two counties had a total population of 61,697, according to the 2010 Census.

My mother used to tell us “Nice people keep their doors closed and locked.” That includes your car and garage door, too. Please don’t leave your gun in there either, just because you’re too lazy to take it into the house with you. Being a POlice is irrelevant.