Saturday, March 21, 2009

"He's Got a Knife! I'm Going to Shoot!"

It never gets any easier. As soon as you say "That's the closest I've ever came", on the next call you inch a bit closer. The situation becomes that much more violatle. The trigger gets squeezed a bit further to the rear. It's so much easier to accept when they are shooting at you. It's easier to rationalize. It's easier to stomach. There are so many less variables. But when you are staring down the sights of your weapon at a man who is babbling like a man possessed, who clearly has no understanding of his actions and their potentially lethal consequences, it sucks.

It sucked for me last Wednesday night. I stared down the sights of my weapon and accepted the fact that tonight, I was going to once again, be forced to shoot a man. I remember thinking that we all were so damned close...I couldn't back up any more. He was already an arm's length away. I knew that as soon as I ripped the blankets down from the doorway and was met with a waving butcher-knife. "He's Got a Knife, I'm Gonna Shoot". I saw no other logical solution. I was assigned lethal coverage and now this unfortunate task had landed squarely in my lap and I was going to defend myself and my fellow officers.

I was one of three officers who walked down the hallway of that home that night. I turned the corner, saw the blankets and tried to tear them down as fast as I could. I couldn't get them down on the first try. They eventually came down and all I could see was an arm waving a butcher knife and a heater and other items barricading the entry-way to this bedroom. I backed away as far as I could in the small room which I was in, looked down the sights of my weapon and took out the slack. It sucked. I knew this guy had no idea what was going on. "You're under arrest". "Suffolk Police", "Drop the knife" I said; placing the check marks in the boxes for the pending civil suit which was to come after I shot this man. It sucked. I remember thinking as I saw the glow of my front sight, "Please don't come out. Please don't come out."

There were only two outcomes to the situation which we now found ourselves in. Kill this man, or back out and formulate an alternate plan. Mr. Alvis "Archie" Reed is alive today because the three of us decided to back out and call in the heavy lumber. We backed out, and I stood at the front door of the house until I was ordered to go change uniforms and assume duties as a S.W.A.T. operator; eventually leading to the safe apprehension of Mr. Reed.

Would I have been justified in shooting Mr. Reed that night? That is the question that every Law Enforcement Officer grapples with when the slack is taken out. Fortunatly for me though, I won't have to answer that question quite yet. I am convinced however, that before my career is finished I will be asked that same questrion while sitting in front of twelve of my peers. And I can only hope that they shot at me and missed before I shot back and didn't.

Link to the story and video from WAVY TV 10 : http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_wavy_Suffolk_police_standoff_with_armed_man_20090318

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi American Son.

I was googling for the exact Roosevelt quote on courage and stumbled upon your site. This led me to read several of your articles and commentaries.

I deeply admire men of your statue and moral - and wish this world had more people like you.

Hope you will follow up with more posts in the future.

Anonymous said...

I just came from a funeral. He had 1 tour in Iraq & didn't adust well coming home. If only ...

The words, "America's Son" have been singing in my ears. A poem to be written? I found your blog on google.

My heart is with those who served and are serving; Peace, being the greater purpose of each battle. God Bless you & Keep you safe in your current endeavors. (It would be kind of you to update your blog & let the e-universe know you are well.) America's Son, take good care of yourself. You have many silent cheerleaders whose lives you will touch with your words.

Doug said...

I have a resource suggestion for your blog - please email me.

Doug, US Navy Veteran