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De-escalation Does Not Work



Please watch the above video before you continue watch it from start to finish and then continue.

The above video depicts Athens Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) officers responding to several calls for a person armed with a knife.  When they arrived they found that a 23 year old male was emotionally distressed while armed with a knife.  All attempts at de-escalation were unsuccessful and the contact officer resorted to deadly force which was not immediately successful.  The EDP (emotionally disturbed person) got up and attacked the contact officer, putting him in a headlock, beginning to choke him and then attempted to go for the officer's duty pistol, at which time the backup officer, which I have read to be a rookie officer who has been involved in a previous OIS (officer involved shooting) which he was cleared from.  The confrontation ends with the rookie officer taking several shots at the EDP resolving the situation.  


0:00 - 0:12 - Officer's are responding to the priority radio call running code (driving with lights and sirens activated) the rookie officer checks the computer to double check the information, possibly to see if there were any updates not given out over radio, as there is sometimes a lag between dispatchers and call takers to give that information out, but it can come over the computer faster if checked in real time.
0:12 - 0:22 - Contact officer who is driving the police car says "uhhhhh" twice, this is a form of cognitive dissonance which is indicative of his level of confidence in the response.  I went over the involuntary verbal responses in a previous article Ride the Adrenaline Wave, where I explained that due to a persons level of training, their overall level of confidence in their training and the level of adrenaline resulting in HBPM (heart beats per minute) may put them into a situation where they are doing, or saying in this instance, things involuntary.  The contact officer is on his way up the HBPM ladder due to adrenaline.  You do not see his hands shake, so he has not hit the top of his HBPM limit, yet.
0:27 - "hap, there he is" the contact officer says as he puts the vehicle in park and exits quickly and giving radio a 10 code which I assume means they made contact (I do not know their 10 codes, or care about 10 codes are they are antiquated)
0:32 - "Put the knife down!" the contact and rookie officer begin to yell as they draw and point their pistols at the EDP.  The line should have immediately been drawn right there.  


0:36 - Forward movement by the officer's stops and they begin to provide police radio with the information in real time and they are giving the EDP commands.  The contact officer takes his left hand off his gun to point at the EDP, because the gun pointing at him is not enough, this is another form of cognitive dissonance due to higher than normal HBPM.
0:42 - Video cuts to rookie officer who is closer, and taking slow side steps to the right of the EDP away from his partner.  This is excellent tactical thinking, create distance and an L-Shape.
0:45 - Both officer's begin to back peddle and the rookie officer tells radio that he is not complying with commands given to him.  This is all stuff that should have been pre-determined before these officers found themselves in this particular situation.  Contact makes contact, cover covers and talks to radio, or contact talks to radio and cover is really, intensely, covering.  Two officers going over the radio during the same situation provides a duality of urgency, which one is it? Who does radio, the supervisors, and the responding officers need to be listening to?  One person should be talking to the subject, one person to the radio, could be the same person for both, but it should only ever be one and that should have been predetermined.  Also, the officers begin to back peddle, I do not know who taught them to do this or if it is standard training in that particular department, but walking backwards with a firearm when there is an armed subject in front of you is one of the most dangerous things an officer can ever do.
0:53 - "knife down! knife down! put the knife down!" Both officer's yell as they walk backwards.
1:00 - "put the knife down man, we can help you out man, please put the knife down!"  I like this line of commands, trying to appeal to the subject, great wording, unfortunately they are still walking backwards, there are obviously people in the backdrop which the contact officer waves to move, and their police vehicle which is still running and doors open is closer to the EDP than to the officers.  If the EDP wasn't so crazy and thinking half way logically he would have jumped into the police vehicle and driven away causing another crazy situation to unfold.  It turns out that the EDP was suicidal and wanted to die, this clearly has the makings of a suicide by cop type of situation.
1:10 - In ten seconds the EDP has accelerated his movements forward, you can see this by the swinging of his arms.  This causes the two officers to back pedal even faster, you can tell that they are moving faster because of the amount of times they are looking behind them to make sure they are no going to trip over anything or get stuck.  The only thing more dangerous to backpedaling while pointing a gun at an armed subject is running backwards in that same situation, this is very dangerous for the officer's because one misstep, one pebble out of place and it would have turned into a death blossom of shooting.  
1:13 - "DO ITTT DOO ITTTT" you can hear the EDP yelling to the officers.  His mind is made up and he has now finally ramped himself enough to be advancing at the officers and to be yelling at them to shoot him.  This is obvious evidence of a suicide by cop scenario.  What should the officer's do?  Shoot him?  Continue to backup?  What's the goal here?  What does their training teach them?  
1:21 - Both officers are split between a median with some trees and bushes.  This is not good, being split up like that only works if one officer was to commit to an L-Shape of the subject, but that's not what happens.
1:49 - At this point the officers have passed one median and come up on another which has a big bush in the beginning of it.  A tactically opportune time to L-Shape and deploy a taser.
2:07 - Contact officer updates police radio with the fact the EDP is not following commands and is still coming at him with the knife, the issue now is that they are coming up to roadway which may or may not have vehicles with non-involved citizens driving by.  This is the makings of a scenario which occurred in a previous article I mentioned, where hesitation to use deadly force resulted in an immediate need to use deadly force because of a hostage situation developing.  Thankfully it didn't get there here.
2:13 - Officers are completely separated at this point and the contact officer makes another "put the knife down" statement which didn't sound like he was giving a command but sounded like he was just saying because he had no other options left as he was being backed into a corner.
2:19 - "please no man no" and the contact officer shakes his head, this is a very clear indication of his heart rate rising back up.  He is resolving himself to use deadly force against the EDP and it is clear he did not want to at all, or else he would have immediately.
2:22 - "hey less lethal!"  His partner, the rookie officer is a solid 20 yards away at this point.  The EDP hears everything they say, he just doesn't care because he wants to die and does not want to be arrested or taken to jail.
2:26 - The EDP begins to charge the contact officer, he does not want to be taken alive.  He gets about 9 steps into a run before the contact officer discharges six or so rounds into the EDP.
2:29 - The EDP falls to the ground about four or so yards in front of the contact officer, the backup rookie officer is directly in the line of fire at this point.
2:34 - The rookie officer's camera video is now shown and you can clearly see the knife between the contact officer and the rookie officer.  At this point the deadly force threat is temporarily over, contact has to be made in order to handcuff subject.  Both officer's still have their pistols out, the contact officer walks up to kick the knife away from the subject who begins to get up and is standing up by 2:40.
2:41 - "KILL ME" the subject is yelling at the rookie officer.
2:47 - The rookie officer holsters his pistol and deploys his taser, this immediately causes the EDP to sprint towards the contact officer.
2:51 - The contact officer, seemingly, makes no effort to stop the EDP from getting his back.  This may be due to the immediate and immobilizing effects of an extreme adrenaline dump compounded with an already high HBPM, this may have induced a freeze effect on the contact officer who clearly did not want to shoot the subject anymore since he was unarmed, but did not deploy any other weapon systems or physical opposition to the subject's actions.
2:56 - "He's going for my gun!!" the contact officer screams as the EDP has him in a headlock.  The contact officer is holding on to his pistol like his life depends on it and the rookie officer drops his taser and takes a few steps forward with his duty pistol aimed at the subject.
2:58 - The rookie officer takes a single aimed shot and then two follow up shots
3:01 - The contact officer raises his head up after two suspenseful seconds to see what was going on.  The EDP is down, likely from a high chest/neck/head shot.  
3:07 - Another officer, looks like a single stripe on his sleeve walks up calmly to help the contact officer up and he walks him away from the downed EDP.  The rookie officer is no going into condition black, he is going over radio, stepping backwards and forwards, looking left and right, keeping his pistol on the EDP, who has now been shot by two different officers and is unarmed.  

The video ends with the rookie officer walking up to a police vehicle and looking away from the downed EDP.  I can only assume that he (or other officer's) made contact, handcuffed and then provided medical attention, later he was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced deceased.  


De-escalation does not work.  Let me rephrase that, there is a point at which de-escalation does not work and that is the shoot threshold.  How many times is an officer required to tell a person to drop a knife, or any other deadly weapon?  The answer is as many as it takes BEFORE that person takes another action.  If the EDP just stood there and had the knife in his hand the officers would have tasered him and that would have been that.  The moment the officer's commands are disregarded the officer's should have immediately gone to taser, especially when there are two officers on scene.  One is contact, one is cover.  One is deadly force, one is less lethal.  This is where the training should kicked in because this is what is standardized throughout many of US LE now a days.  Allowing the subject to expand his radius puts a lot of variables into play which should never have been in play to begin with.  As I stated the running and unlocked police vehicle is an easy one to avoid, a LEO cannot allow anyone to get into the driver's seat of their running police vehicle, especially not someone who has been disregarding commands to put down a dangerous weapon.  This would have created a weird situation that thankfully was avoided by the subject's emotional attachment to suicide by cop, he was not trying to get away, he was trying to force the officers to kill him.

No taser deployment occurred during this entire situation, the rookie officer took his taser out but did not deploy it.  There were a dozen opportunities to do so, the L-Shape in the beginning is literally designed for this type of application in the LE field.  If this situation only included a solo officer then taser deployment may have been difficult but this was not the case here.  Not saying that a taser would have immediately ended the situation but it would have the potential to do so.  Beyond that, everyone knows what "less than lethal" means, might as well yell "taser him!"  This is something I have pointed out repeatedly before, there is a need for signals, hand signals, for verbal signals using code names for tactical maneuvers.  If the contact officer yelled "BANANAS!" instead of less than lethal, the EDP may not have immediately began to sprint towards the contact officer causing the situation to result in an OIS.  The rookie should have known to deploy the taser immediately without needing to hear the contact officer tell him to.  The contact officer should have deployed a taser (if he had one) and yelled "cover" or something of the sort so the rookie officer knew that it was his job to shoot the subject if the taser failed.  This is why LEO's carry tasers, this is why LEO's train with tasers, this is a perfect scenario to use the taser and it was not deployed.  I do not blame the officer's for this, however, I'll get to that at the end.

Once a subject is shot, with a pistol or taser or bean bag or anything, and they are on the ground without the weapon that facilitated the requirement to shoot them in the first place, this is the time to go hands on.  A LEO cannot be afraid of going hands on, a LEO must be willing to immediately go hands on upon this situation presenting itself.  This is the reason why a LEO should be trained in, and comfortable with, grappling, being hit, taking a hit and producing violence in order to gain compliance without the aid of tools.  The contact officer was completely devoid of this particular skill set.  His lack of immediate response to the EDP in the form of violence clearly indicates this, beyond that he projecting his lack of confidence in his own ability when he continued to back up, when he continued to yell "NO" and "PLEASE STOP" nearly a minute after coming into contact with the subject.  I do not blame this officer for this, I do not blame him for not seeing the absolute need for him to develop these skills in order to survive.  I do not blame him because his job, specifically in his department, did not facilitate a culture of a well rounded officer, it facilitated a culture of de-escalation until death, and possibly past it.

This is going to be difficult for some to hear, but the administrators, the top brass, the force and tactics instructors, the brass who approved the training and the top administrators in this department who cultivated a culture of non-force application created this situation.  De-escalation does not work, the concept gets LEO's into this particular situation and it has been well documented with various body camera videos that can be seen.  At some point the officers need to use force and show that they will use force, the officers are in control and never the subject.  In this situation the subject was in control until he was shot and then he was in control again.  A LEO must always be feeding a dangerous situation and never receiving from the subject, ever.  Never, ever.  The culture of weakness that spawned this de-escalation mindset needs to be ridiculed out of existence because LEO's will always end up getting hurt from it.  In the first article I wrote on this concept back in 2016 I said that LEOs will get hurt from this and I was unfortunately correct in my assessment.  Stop training LEO's to have weak responses, stop training LEO's to use violence as an absolute last resort when it is sometimes the first and only thing which may immediately stop the situation from spiraling out of control as this one did.  

Some people need to be shot, some people need to be tasered, some people need to be tackled and no talking will stop the violence that needs to be employed to resolve the situation.  Make the effort to command the subject to drop the weapon, "drop the knife....DROP THE KNIFE NOW, DO IT NOW."  The moment that subject takes a step forward you need to use violence because walking backwards is not the answer, it is almost never the answer, it was definitely not the answer in this situation.  They ended up shooting the subject regardless of the amount of space they gave him, regardless of the amount of opportunities they gave him.  I do not fault the rookie officer for not deploying his taser, he is a rookie and the LE job is very difficult to properly execute in real time, but this is a failure of training which is a failure of the top brass, by proxy.  

Lastly, I want to reiterate what I have heard very early on in my career and it has been proven over and over again.  Modern pistol caliber ammunition is ineffective at immediately stopping a human adversary.  The only way to have immediately stopped the armed subject was to put a bullet into a switch, like his head.  The contact officer fired six shots at him and none of them immediately stopped him.  It put the subject to the ground because that is something which people do once they are shot, there is sometimes a neural shock of being shot which occurs which causes people to fall to the ground since they do not know what is supposed to happen.  This EDP quickly realized he could get up and get going, adrenaline mixed with high HBPM facilitated this.  This is a clear reason why every single LEO should have a shotgun and/or a rifle immediately available to them.  A single 00 buck or slug round would have immediately and significantly effected the subject, especially at this range.  A rifle of 5.56 or .300 would have immediately effected the subject, especially since an optic system would have aided in it's effective deployment.  One well placed chest shot would have put the subject down immediately from a rifle.  Neither officer deployed one, I do not know if they had one, I do not know if they were trained to deploy them in this particular situation.  Deadly force is deadly force, pistol, shotgun, rifle, car, rock, hands, does not matter.  

Lack of properly formulated training is the reason why this situation devolved into what it did, a culture of hands off policing is what led to the lapse in proper training, the concept of de-escalation as adopted by the top brass led to the lapse in proper training, exposure of liability avoidance led to concept of de-escalation, and a disregard for the safety of the officer's is what started it and where it ends.  Train to use violence, train in the culture of violence, train to be a warrior.