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Gun control means HITTING your target
May 10, 2005 10:39 AM   Subscribe

LA Deputies: 100+ rounds, two wounded. After firing nearly 120 rounds, some Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department deputies manage to wound the driver of an SUV they'd been pursuing, one of their own number, and punch lots of 9mm holes in a Compton neighborhood. Report says no weapon in the suspect's vehicle.
posted by alumshubby (50 comments total)

 
Oh yeah? Huh.
posted by jon_kill at 10:48 AM on May 10, 2005


I caught a video of the shooting on flipping through Iron Chef's commercial break last night. Turned out to be Bill O'reilly's show, and he and his LEO guest were adamant that once a call for shots fired is reports with a credible description of the suspect, LA police are expected to respond with force if that suspect does not comply with verbal commands.

Still looks like a bunch of cops going on a spree to me, though.
posted by boo_radley at 10:49 AM on May 10, 2005


Well, his SUV lurched forward and they thought he was going to try and escape so they had to shoot at him 100 times.

This story highlights two issues.

One, LA County Sheriff's are really, really bad shots.
Two, LA County Sheriff's just shot the hell out of an unarmed man and his car without justification.

Anybody want to take the under on the lawsuit?
posted by fenriq at 10:50 AM on May 10, 2005


Awesome! In local news here, there are some guys on the south shore ripping off seniors in a roofing scam.

What's going on in Italy, matteo?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:54 AM on May 10, 2005


This was actually on the network newscasts last night, so it's not purely a local story.

That still doesn't make it interesting though.
posted by smackfu at 10:56 AM on May 10, 2005


For all you non-Southern-California MeFites, the L.A. County Sheriffs Dept. serves a different part of the area as the L.A. City Police Department, who recently tightened their rules for when officers should shoot, after 2 incidents in one year in which Deadly Force was used against suspects driving vehicles into LAPD cars at less than 5 miles per hour. Both suspects were unarmed, and both were killed. The second incident occurred while they were still writing the rule change responding to the first.

This incident, by comparison: let's just say the Keystone Cops never disbanded; they just moved from Hollywood to Compton.
posted by wendell at 10:58 AM on May 10, 2005


A 28-year-old Triangle (Virginia) man was arrested after leading police on a chase with a 4-year-old child in his car Friday night in Triangle.

Let's check on sports with orthogonality... ortho?
posted by Witty at 10:59 AM on May 10, 2005


And I'm waiting for somebody to comment that 100 bullet-holes in Compton wouldn't be noticable...

I'm also waiting for somebody to reference the Marley/Clapton classic "I Shot the Sheriff (But the Deputy Shot Himself".
posted by wendell at 11:02 AM on May 10, 2005


First report I heard about this, he had ditched the weapon earlier in the chase, plus he was fired upon after evading chase and hitting three police cars with his vehicle. His tires had been flattened, but he was still aggressively trying to flee.

I'm not saying that means he deserves being shot at a hundred times, but I'm finding it hard to feel sorry for him.

On preview, fenriq is right. These guys can't aim for shit.
posted by ColdChef at 11:04 AM on May 10, 2005


Oh, and from the video, the 120 rounds were spent in about fifteen seconds.
posted by ColdChef at 11:05 AM on May 10, 2005


Wasn't there a Polish joke about a Firing Squad forming a circle round the condemned prisoner?

It does make you think about the old Police TV Show Cliche: "We have you surrounded. Give up or we shoot."
posted by wendell at 11:08 AM on May 10, 2005


they're much more effective at beating defensless black men with sticks.
posted by quonsar at 11:09 AM on May 10, 2005


A coroner friend of mine sent this to me this morning, via this blog (lots of right-wing ranting for those who are into that). Said blogger referred to it as a "Polish Firing Squad", see, they form a circle around the prisoner to make sure he doesn't escape...
posted by sohcahtoa at 11:10 AM on May 10, 2005


Damn, wendelled.
posted by sohcahtoa at 11:10 AM on May 10, 2005


they're much more effective at beating defensless black men with sticks.

Especially when they deserve it!
posted by Witty at 11:11 AM on May 10, 2005


And I'm waiting for somebody to comment that 100 bullet-holes in Compton wouldn't be noticable...

Well, for some folks here, it's certainly not postworthy. My apologies to anyone I've inadvertently bored for wasting your finite bandwidth. Mathowie, please have several LASD deputies surround this thread and fire 100+ rounds into it.
posted by alumshubby at 11:21 AM on May 10, 2005


Deputy, Suspect Wounded After High-Speed Chase

Authorities said he led deputies through residential areas at speeds up to 35 mph before spike strips flattened his tires.
Huh?

For all you non-Southern-California MeFites,
This incident, by comparison: let's just say the Keystone Cops never disbanded; they just moved from Hollywood to Compton.
.
For those that no longer live there...
Are you talking about Compton’s city cops?
Or, The World's largest sheriffs department that patrols L.A County making it the Nation’s largest police force.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:29 AM on May 10, 2005


Wow. LA's car chase du jour on MeFi. Have we moved on to LocalNewsFilter? Should we get mathowie out in the SkyFiteCopter6000 with new HD cameras to get every detail of the next chase?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:33 AM on May 10, 2005


wendell, you weren't the only person to think of the "Polish Firing Squad" joke...that's how I found out about this.

I wonder if this many rounds got fired at Giuliana Sgrena's car in Iraq after she was rescued and they drove through that checkpoint.
posted by alumshubby at 11:40 AM on May 10, 2005


This was actually on the network newscasts last night, so it's not purely a local story.

Guess again.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:46 AM on May 10, 2005


Yeah, a hundred shots is A WHOLE LOT of bullets. On the other hand, how many cops were at the scene? More than a dozen? In a situation like that, it's hard to tell if you're the cop being shot at or if anyone else has hit the suspect. So, if 15 cops fire six or seven shots each, that's easily between 90 and 105 shots.
Also, you try hitting a half-sized target from 50ft with a pistol. At night. In a hurry. See how many shots it takes you to hit something.
Would you complain if you read that one officer had to fire 8 shots at a suspect?

It's not like anyone has all 100 of those bullets in them.

I'm not trying to defend anyone's actions here. What I'm trying to get at is that bullet counts get pointed to as evidence of excessive or brutal force. The number of shots fired is entirely beside the point. It becomes a weak excuse for outrage. What we should be discussing is the obviously failed procedure, training, and cultural environment of Law Enforcement that puts their officers in a position that causes such big mistakes.
The problem isn't that a dozen or so officers fired that many bullets. The problem is that they overreacted and overestimated the number of officers they needed.
What I mean is when a situation arises that DOES require the presence of a dozen cops, it should be an extreme and dangerous enough situation that, if they're required to use force, the amount of force that can be generated by 12 officers does not seem disproportionate.
Example:
8 Officers + 1 Suspect= 50 shots= disproportionate/unjustified
But
8 officers + 1 Suspect (with an AK) = 50 shots = proportionate/expected.

What needs to be addressed are these "band-wagon" pursuits. I mean, just the other day, I was walking down the street and I saw two squad cards pull up to one that was already parked and an officer was already detaining a suspect. Within a minute, I saw three more cars speed down the block to the scene. Walking less than a block after that, I saw TWO MORE police cars (lights and sirens on) rush to back them up. Then a helicopter showed up. That's 8 cars and a helicopter for one suspect. That's the problem. A relatively minor incident occurs and, before you know it, there are 8 cop cars at the scene and EVERYONE there thinks "man, this must be a big deal." Suddenly, the situation is inflated and there's the enormous problem of having to communicate a large volume of extremely important information to a crowd of armed and anxious people.
Don't be shocked that 12 officers can shoot that many bullets. Be upset at the fact that there are that many cops at the scene in the first place.
posted by Jon-o at 11:57 AM on May 10, 2005


It's surprising that nobody got killed by a stray round with that much gunfire. It's bad enough that apparently the "Polish firing squad" scenario did happen -- it looks from the video like at least one deputy was firing across the SUV toward where another was standing.
posted by alumshubby at 12:17 PM on May 10, 2005


Jon-o, I, for one (and probably most of us), was not so much shocked that 12 officers could shoot that many bullets. It really was the 4-out-of-120 hitting the suspect (and the suspect will survive) and 1-out-of-120 hitting another Deputy that really made an impression.

thomcatspike, if you're confused, the LA County Sheriff provides police services to awholebuncha small cities in the County of L.A., including Compton; that's why I used "Hollywood" in that pithy comment, because it's one of awholebuncha 'communities' within the City of LA.

And let me declare that I did NOT see that froggyblog before I made my own "Polish Firing Squad" comment, and I expect the Special Blog Plagiarising Committee investigation will clear me of all charges.

And, hey, if we wanted to post stupid L.A. local news car chase stuff to MeFi, then we would've done the one from a couple days ago that went off the side of the freeway and rolled over five times going down a canyon... now that's video!
posted by wendell at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2005


Take a look at the video here and watch for the cop telling the cameraman "get out of here". He gestures toward the guy with his gun like it was a pointing stick.
posted by Potsy at 12:30 PM on May 10, 2005


I imagine that when all concerned sit down to go through that video frame by painful frame, that one deputy is going to at least be asked what he was thinking when he was pointing a live weapon at the cameraman. At least, if LASD is showing due diligence, he certainly should be. One of the absolute basics of handling firearms is never, ever point a weapon at anyone or anything you're not prepared to destroy.
posted by alumshubby at 12:55 PM on May 10, 2005


Maybe the cops on one side of the car thought the cops on the other side of the car was the guy in the car returning fire and that's why they kept shooting so many times?

Or they were amped up after that thrilling 35 mile an hour chase through residential neighborhoods.

alumshubby, that was the first lesson I learned in gun safety, never, ever point a gun at anything you didn't want dead, even if you know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the weapon is empty. Never, ever, ever.
posted by fenriq at 12:58 PM on May 10, 2005


Good thing the suspect wasn't on a bicycle. Lots of deputies would have been shot.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:11 PM on May 10, 2005


Would you complain if you read that one officer had to fire 8 shots at a suspect?

If the other seven missed? Sweet zombie Jesus, yes.

One shot, one hit. If you can't hit him, don't shoot at him, because there are innocent people around.

If you can't judge who you can hit and who you can't, and hit the people you judge you should be able to hit at least 90% of the time, you have no business carrying a firearm in public. Which applies to private citizens with carry permits and hunters too, as far as I care.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:15 PM on May 10, 2005


"Only Imperial Stormtroopers could be so precise..."
posted by rush at 1:19 PM on May 10, 2005


"Why would Stormtroopers wanna slaughter Jawas?"
posted by Witty at 1:22 PM on May 10, 2005


Amen, sweet zombie jesus, amen.

As for certifying people to carry: It will never happen, because then the Gummint would have a LIST of people who owned guns, and could relieve them of their credible Jeffersonian deterrents. [/deadpan]
posted by lodurr at 1:23 PM on May 10, 2005


Wait, Witty! It's too dangerous!
posted by rush at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2005


Actually, 100 rounds is not much with enough shooters. By the time you finish reading this post, ten shooters with 9mm automatic pistols could fire that many rounds.

Interesting response from Malcolm Gladwell on how police make decisions in these instances. I'd also recommend Blink as well.
posted by borkus at 1:52 PM on May 10, 2005


Reminds me of a NYPD event quite a while back - the two cops involved fired off 121 rounds and scored 3 hits and the subject fired 6 and hit with 4. Only the body armour of the cops saved them from being killed.

I have to agree that the cops should really not be shooting unless they know exactly what they are going to hit - perhaps one day they can be issued with one of these.

The O'Dwyer VLE "smart" gun can fire either conventional bullets or less lethal beanbag rounds but its unique feature is a voice alert which gives criminals the chance to back down before facing a potentially lethal round.

Maybe then we can look forward to a moderately safer populace. I personally believe this is just another example of boys playing cops and robbers and is another reason that people shouldn't be trusted with firearms, law enforcement or otherwise. At least in the UK you have to pass some psychological tests before being issued with a weapon.
posted by longbaugh at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2005


Yeah, a hundred shots is A WHOLE LOT of bullets. On the other hand, how many cops were at the scene? More than a dozen? In a situation like that, it's hard to tell if you're the cop being shot at or if anyone else has hit the suspect. So, if 15 cops fire six or seven shots each, that's easily between 90 and 105 shots.
Also, you try hitting a half-sized target from 50ft with a pistol. At night. In a hurry. See how many shots it takes you to hit something.


Yeah... Where are those laser-guided MOABs when you need one?
posted by c13 at 2:29 PM on May 10, 2005


35 mph is considered "high speed" now? Wasn't the famous OJ Simpson low-speed chase with the white Bronco actually faster than that?
posted by clevershark at 2:38 PM on May 10, 2005


meh. teh filter

Sweet, Polish jokes and Keystone Kops, our work here is done.

Wendell: Let's see that video!

clevershark: If the suspect was high enough, 35 MPH might seem like warp 9 or something...easily faster than OJ.
posted by schyler523 at 2:49 PM on May 10, 2005


ROU, I totally agree. Even as a relatively novice shooter, I can hit the target 100% of the time, and the bullseye about 70%. (However, I'm taking my time with those shots and I'm in a safe environment. On the other hand, I have received absolutely no professional law enforcement training.)
Looking at this situation in LA, there's obviously a really serious problem with all of the officer training. The pursuit was out of hand and the conclusion of the pursuit was just complete disorganized chaos. Watching the video, it looked as though these officers received no training whatsoever.
Later in the video, when the officers are approaching the car after the shooting, you can see them stacked up 2 or 3 deep, pointing their guns at their fellow officer's backs! It's an utter miracle that they didn't kill each other.
There definitely isn't enough training going on. It's abundantly clear that the officers are not being deliberate about their aiming and controlled firing and, in their panicked haste, they're not being aware of what's in the background of their target.
There seems to be an emphasis on reaction and speed that blinds the officers from either taking control of the pursuit in a deliberate organized way or having any tactical care and professionalism when it comes down to shooting a suspect.
I get the feeling if there was more pursuit training and more procedure training, shootings wouldn't be quite so chaotic.

In regards to "smart guns" or non-lethal options on a police issue firearm, I'm against that. I believe that officers should be issued non-lethal devices. I think those devices should be their first option. However, I don't think that any aspect of an officer's sidearm should be non-lethal. I think their sidearm should only be drawn from its holster when the time has come to be lethal. If you have to draw a gun, there should be no thought of "oh, geez. Now I have to select 'lethal mode' so I can be sure that I'm not going to die." A gun is a strictly lethal tool. Even rubber bullets can cause permanent damage. Officers should be provided with a non lethal option contained in a separate device, to be used in the appropriate context.

That being said, I think one of the problems with this Compton shooting is that the police didn't encounter a situation that required deadly force, rather they created and encouraged a deadly situation through their disorganized actions.
I wonder how many shootings could be avoided if the police had better training and equipment for containing suspects. Look at the tape, the suspect's vehicle was poorly barricaded and none of the officers were really taking cover. Most of them were exposed. Being exposed forced them to fire and advance on the vehicle. Properly blocking the suspects vehicle and taking adequate cover could have given them the opportunity to ascertain if the suspect was armed AND whether or not they were being fired at. Additionally, shooting from a covered position with some support for your firearm allows you to be more careful and accurate. Also, the protection allows you to react from a position or relative safety, decreasing your panic.

Law Enforcement agents are professionals. I don't think that it's too much to ask that they be trained and equiped adequately, if not over-trained and over-equiped. On the one hand, they're people, just like you and me. On the other, we put a great deal of faith, trust, and dependence on them to do their jobs. With taxpayer money supporting them, it's never too much to ask that they be as close to perfect as they can be. They are, after all, our employees.
posted by Jon-o at 3:04 PM on May 10, 2005


thomcatspike, if you're confused, the LA County Sheriff provides police services to awholebuncha small cities in the County of L.A., including Compton; that's why I used "Hollywood" in that pithy comment, because it's one of awholebuncha 'communities' within the City of LA.

I have had many encounters with them. You made them seem like a joke. Which if true, should be more scary than funny. As my above comment talked about there size and by being that large should have better knowledge handling the situation. Plus I know people that police Compton who are serious about their job.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:47 PM on May 10, 2005


Perhaps there's a time and money-efficeint solution that can be put into effect until training curriculums and equipment issues can be improved.
There's clearly the problem of poor-accuracy and the public outrage and damage that it causes. Maybe police departments should consider the following:
Officers who pass their firearm qualification but still score lower than a certain average on their target shooting can be required (or issued) compensated pistols to use on duty. They can carry these pistols for however long they want or they can retrain and score higher.
Compensated (or ported) pistols, by directionally venting some of the propellant gas, reduce the recoil of the weapon which allows the shooter to fire more rapidly with a decreased difference in where the rounds hit. These models are already in production by companies that supply police forces.
Training a police force as though they're a primarily violent or military institution may breed certain other problems. Maybe issuing the same caliber of firearm in an easier-to-shoot model might help in increasing officer accuracy without ingraining a "killing machine" mindset in police forces.
posted by Jon-o at 3:49 PM on May 10, 2005


Lots of the experienced cops from LA county were Reservists that got called up to go to Iraq. So you have the rookie yay-hoos left over. Can you say "Unintended Consequences"?

Jon-o is right. 100 rounds ain't that much, though. Not with half a dozen cops. And that they only hit four times makes sense. Everyother cop thinks all that shooting is somebody shooting at HIM. So he is covering, ducking and frantic. That kind of thing is infectious. That's why jon-o was also right. The scene only needed maybe four cops.


CAUTION: To simulate a combat pressure (to a VERY small degree) adrenal dump when you target shoot - take your magazine out and lay your piece on the range stall - empty chamber open, safety on.

Take twenty steps back. Do as many push-ups as you can. So your arms are heavy. Stand. Hands in your pockets, look down at your feet and spin - getting good and dizzy, until a partner says GO.

Then run FAST to the stall and load - safety on. DO NOT CHAMBER A ROUND!

CAUTION. Wait in the ready stance (for safety sake!) making sure you are pointed at the target.

Wait till your partner yells GO again, THEN chamber and fire off the entire magazine as fast as you can.

Check your accuracy now.
posted by tkchrist at 4:13 PM on May 10, 2005


Perhaps there's a time and money-efficeint solution that can be put into effect until training curriculums and equipment issues can be improved

Lots of the experienced cops from LA county were Reservists that got called up to go to Iraq. So you have the rookie yay-hoos left over. Can you say "Unintended Consequences"?


Iirc, a LA Sheriff after graduating from the academy works in the jails for 3 years then polices the streets. So it seems the proper training should have been given to them by now. Calling them a “rookie” seems naïve here. Though being reservist then full time now would have a big factor. As many valuable training exercises my have been forgotton due to the time delay in a real situation finally occurring while out on the streets.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:35 PM on May 10, 2005


graduating from the academy works in the jails for 3 years

You don't even carry a gun when you work lock up. At least not here in WA.
posted by tkchrist at 5:10 PM on May 10, 2005


Jon-o, I, for one (and probably most of us), was not so much shocked that 12 officers could shoot that many bullets. It really was the 4-out-of-120 hitting the suspect (and the suspect will survive) and 1-out-of-120 hitting another Deputy that really made an impression.

Um, not having the seen the video (IE only), but given this statement: "When deputies pulled the driver out of the vehicle, his right hand was bloodied." Isn't this discussion a bit complicated by the fact that the driver had partial cover and/or concealment? I mean, my first instict if someone started shooting at me in a car would be to put as much metal between me and the muzzle flashes as I can.

The web site also says 35mph in one place, and 70mph in another place.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:12 PM on May 10, 2005


Actually, on closer reflection, duck and cover probably is probably a best case scenario. Duck, cover, and shit my pants is probably more realistic. I just can't imagine anyone sitting up tall and proud the seat making a nice big target for themselves.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:17 PM on May 10, 2005


I think this is what happens when we cut law enforcement funding and Sheriff Lee Baca resorts to using light-gun arcade machines as training devices.

not really, but this _is_ the Sheriff who let crooks out early to "protest" "underfunding", and is the highest paid public official ever
posted by Joybooth at 8:21 PM on May 10, 2005


"Good shot, Poot! Everybody relax, Poot took 'im out!"
posted by keswick at 9:24 PM on May 10, 2005



Jeff Cooper's Rules of Gun Safety


RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED

RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY

RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET

RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET

Now, which rules were violated and how many times were they violated by each officer? How would the correct observance of these rules have endangered any of the officers involved?

I think it would be reasonable to say that Mr. Cooper, 'the father of modern combat pistol shooting', would call this pure incompetence as he has done many times in the past regarding similar incidents.
posted by well_balanced at 10:21 PM on May 10, 2005


The story made it to Australia. I noticed it on the news last night. I wasn't surprised by how trigger happy the police appeared to be in trying to stop this guy, though. At least they didn't kill him. That'd be a different story altogether.
posted by sjvilla79 at 6:21 AM on May 11, 2005


Life imitates A-Team
posted by Human Flesh at 2:29 PM on May 11, 2005


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