Just mere life is not victory, just mere death is not defeat.

Search The Knowledge

Internet Hyperbole and Lessons in Reality

Before we get into the meat of the concepts, please watch the below video from start to finish, while only 4 minutes it shows a lot of concepts in action which need to be touched on and discussed.  Every time we see a video like this, we need to sit down and dissect it because of the lessons we can learn.  We should also be extremely grateful to LVMPD Officer William Umana who was wearing his body camera during this particular July 11th morning.  If you want to watch the official LVMPD breakdown explanation video, its about 12 minutes long.

After watching the video you may have seen some things jump out at you right away.  I am sure that those on social media have seen all the tripe comments about his fumbled reload, his revolver grip shooting, how his shrieking voice sounds, and so on.  I will touch on them later on in this article, but I want to break down some key things to consider first through the 4 minute video above.

The Video:
0:04 - Video starts with him already being pursuit of this vehicle.  This is important to note because often times LEO's do not see the vehicle's we are looking for, especially not those wanted for a just occurred violent felony.  So the fact he is already in pursuit means that his heart rate is up in the condition red area, as he is an experienced LEO who is not a boot officer.  He is probably pushing 140-160bpm (heart beats per minute).

The above is a graphic I found through google which shows Colonel Cooper's various color condition stages as well as Boyd's OODA loop.  This is a good representation of how things work.

0:15 - The officer looks at a street sign to give the location and direction of the pursuit, you actually heard gunshots right before this at around 0:12 but he may have missed the sounds due to the sirens, him keying up his mic and the fact he looked away for a moment.  As humans we cannot split our direct focus, and at condition red he is starting to creep into tunnel vision territory.  The officer then look back forward and can now focus on the vehicle and sees the shots fired at him, for the first time.  What does this do? It automatically pushes his naturally ingrained responses to the surface as his heart rate goes up past the 180bpm range into condition black.  He is now in the fight.  Since he is already driving he floors his car and almost wrecks out.  Thankfully this is a not a boot officer, and as LEO's there is one thing we do really, really, well (in general) and that is drive police vehicles offensively.

If you missed the stripes on his left shirt wrist he has four gold stripes, which denotes years of service.  I could not find the number of years each stripe represents for LVMPD, but its usually between 5 to 2 years of service per stripe.  So that means he has been driving a marked patrol vehicle, everyday for hours at a time.  That is the type of training we can all wish to have, but LEO's actually do it actively.

0:32 - The officer is coming out to an intersection with a lot of vehicles in it, he begins to press the horn on his steering wheel even though his sirens are set to automatic.  This is an ingrained response he has developed through repetitive action during his career, it literally did nothing, but he did it anyway, he will go on to do this several more times.  This is because he is on autopilot.

1:25 - The officer begins to relax and becomes semi-comfortable with the pursuit, he dips below 180bpm back into condition red and goes back to thinking for himself, if you look at the 1:23-1:24 mark you will see his thumb goes to press the horn but then does not, he now has the ability to process certain concepts which are before fight or flight.  He starts to give out descriptive information about the occupants.  This is a short memory recall function of the brain, it may not be possible to do while in condition black.

2:10 - Police Radio Dispatch wants to confirm if the officer has been injured because he said "I've been shot at" and he gets a busy mic tone.  If you want to know what infuriates every LEO instantly, that is trying to come over radio while you are actively involved in a serious situation and you get a busy mic tone because some boot-ass is trying to sound important over the radio.

3:05 - Around this time you see a third marked police vehicle appear and traffic seems to be getting heavy.  At this point the officer now has enough backup with him to go from the hopscotch game of observe to decide and back, now he can go on the offensive.  He draws at some point around this time, and takes lead position in the pursuit.  Notice there was no communication required, he takes lead, listen to the radio as the second and third pursuing officers are going to giving out information over radio.

3:11 - The officer begins to roll down his window and holds the steering wheel with his right hand, which also has to his pistol in it, this is his decision tree working in real time, he has never shot out of a window or moving vehicle in any sustained manner.  He probably had a few in-service training classes which went over it so he may have a general overview of what to do but actually doing it enough for his actions to become naturally ingrained and smooth, that never happened.  This is not, however, an indictment of the officer, rather a factual representation of the deficiencies in training of the LVMPD.

Making the decision to take offensive action, while in the upper part of condition red is a natural progression for resolving a conflict quickly.  The officer knew that these two criminals were armed, they were shooting at him and his coworkers, while endangering the general public while driving erratically wrong way down heavily trafficked streets.  Their conduct was not just dangerous, it needed to be stopped immediately and the officer knew what exactly what needed to be done in order stop them.

3:17 - The officer begins to pull along side the vehicle and switches hands to try to make a shot.  He instantly sees he will not be able to and switches right back to his dominant hand in order to go back to what he is most comfortable with.  Please note this is not a personal preference thing, he is in condition black so this is his autopilot making him go back to the most natural position he functions best at.

3:23 - The officer realizes that he will not be able to do what he thought he was going to be able to do, which was shoot with his left hand out of his driver's side open window into the moving vehicle of the bad guys.  He takes aim, considering exactly what he needs to do and lets 5 controlled shots go through his front windshield.

3:33 - The officer gets a little closer and realizes that he can make clean shots on target, he then goes two hand on his pistol.  This is where a bunch of people start making fun of something they would likely have messed up even more.

There are few concepts which need to be discussed in order to fully understand the reasoning behind what is happening here, why it is perfectly natural and why this officer did exceptionally well for his particular situation given the issues he was fighting to overcome.

First and foremost, his prefrontal cortex is on fire right now because he is jumping around in his OODA loop, as well as, dealing with the added obstacle of being in condition black.  Your brain's frontal lobe is primarily responsible for analyzing dangers and finding the best possible actions to combat those dangers.  This is, of course, under normal circumstances except that this officer is in one of the worst possible circumstance imaginable, he is actively pursuing violent felons who have been trying to kill him and his friends for the last three and half minutes.  He is using 100% of his frontal lobe and if he had 200% available, he would have been using that as well, while still asking for more.

As LEO's we are taught to "Shoot, Move, Communicate" and sometimes we listen, but sometimes we do not, most LEOs are naturally ingrained with those three particular actions in a particular order.  That order gets completely mixed up when you are driving, and especially so when you are driving offensively and are required to shoot immediately.  This means that the officer was trying to shoot, but he also had to move (drive) because that was a priority for him since everyone involved was in fast moving vehicles.

If I could make a graphic it would be an OODA loop 0-100 (voltage style) meter which is pinging back and forth between ACTION to OBSERVE back to ORIENT then pings between DECIDE and ACTION a few times then repeats, all in a milisecond, at 60mph with a 180bpm.

3:32-3:36 - The officer goes two hands on pistol and takes five more careful shots at the violent felons.  If you look at the hole in the windshield its a tight group and he was not just shooting wild, so would you consider his expedited revolver grip to be a detriment to his application of his pistol?

3:44 - The officer is pulling up to the side of the violent felon's vehicle and jerks his left arm out the window in what looked like a physical attempt to see if he could make shots with his left hand.  He immediately abandons it, speeding up to the side and leaning over with his right hand, letting another 5 rounds go.

3:49 - if you pause at this second you will see him reaching for his door latch and his slide is locked back to the rear of his pistol.

3:51 - You hear "GET DOWN" and he switches his pistol into his left hand for a moment.  Why?  His car is still in motion.  What has he trained, ingrained and done every single shift day numerous times exactly the same for as many years as he's been driving vehicles with a column shifter?  That is correct, he has been using his right hand to actuate it, from drive to park and everything else.

Unfortunately for him, he has a shooting problem that needs to be solved immediately, but he has also been ingrained with various concepts of liability if he crashed his vehicle.  Obviously his vehicle's condition does not matter, but yet he goes back and puts it into park before reloading, that is either the actions of his auto-pilot while in condition black or an instinctual action he automatically put more importance on over the fact he was still involved in a gunfight.  Either way his prefrontal cortex was making the decision automatically and he did not have any time to consider it.

3:54 - The Reload - As soon as he puts his vehicle into park, he does not get out, because he is still in the SHOOT phase, his pistol is already in his left hand, so he goes directly for his magazine.  He draws his magazine from his magazine pouch, and the bullets/magazine is oriented backwards.  This is because his magazine was correctly setup for reloading with his left hand while the pistol is in his right hand.  This does not slow him down, however.  From 3:54 to 3:58 he was reloading, he used his left hand thumb to drop the mag, went to seat the mag, did not insert it even half way before realizing that it was backwards, turned it around and then swapped hands, racked with his left hand, got up and started shooting at the moving vehicle because there was still a violent felon inside trying to get away.

4:05 - The officer just got done firing 13 shots at the vehicle which crashed again into the concrete wall as he was taking up a position of cover behind some brick wall trying to get a visual on the second guy who fled as soon as the truck crashed, giving info to other officers behind him.  If you notice, he is holding his pistol in a revolver grip.  The video ends at this time.

According to the longer LVMPD media briefing a second non-uniformed officer actually came around the passenger side of the officer wearing he body camera's vehicle and discharged an 870 shotgun with a slug a single time into the driver after the officer reloaded and shot about 13 shots.  If you watch the video you will hear a distinct single gun shot after the 13 shots at around the 4:05-4:06 mark.  The Assistant Sheriff who did the briefing did not mention that the driver was shot or hit with any bullets from the officer's pistol during the pursuit and subsequent shootout, only that the passenger who jumped into the drivers seat after the driver fled was shot several times and finally stopped by the 870 slug, which he later died from.

Things to Consider:
After first seeing this video on Instagram I immediately wanted to see the entire thing, only this short 4 minute video was available from the LVMPD and even though it is short there are a lot of things that happened in the video which will prove to be an excellent example of lessons in reality.

How you train is how you will perform, this is not just some type of B.S. statement said off the cuff, it is 100% true.  This is one of those situations which clearly shows how an experienced officer of over 17 years was able not to crash his vehicle while taking fire from two different violent felons using three different pistols of various calibers.  The officer's ingrained response to driving his vehicle was the number one factor in him staying in the fight.  If it had been a boot officer then they may have crashed within the first few moments of this rolling deadly force situation.

The fact that the officer uses a revolver grip to shoot his Glock pistol was the butt of meme jokes for a day or so, issue is however, that is how he shoots.  Even though it is wrong in terms of what we currently call proficient, he was able to make positive hits on that vehicle as needed.  It was exactly as he trained to do for many years, and that is just how he shoots.  So internet hyperbole zero, real life experience based results of a LEO who is actually in the fight one.

The human brain is wired a specific way, with the prefrontal cortex being the conductor of our conscious decision making processes.  At first glance of his reload someone who does some shooting may go "what the....?"  But after you contrast it against the particular situation which this officer is fighting against, all of a sudden you realize that his actions are perfectly acceptable and even performed faster than the average person may have been able to under the extreme stress which he was experiencing.  The fact is that his prefrontal cortex has to decide what is going to be done, what is not going to be done and what order.  His prefrontal cortex decided that keeping his Glock in his left hand after putting his vehicle in park is better than changing hands and adding time to the reload while doing so.  He used his left thumb to drop the magazine, which is something a person needs to practice, and judging from his grip he may do that as a naturally ingrained response.  Either way, his reload was about 4 seconds, which is still within the window of acceptability given his particular setup, situation, being in condition black and knowing how he's going to have to explain to his chief why he shot through a perfectly good windshield.

If you have never done any vehicle based shooting you should definitely do it.  Find a few windshields at the junkyard, cart them over to the range, put some targets in front of them on either side and shoot various bullets through them.  That is exactly what we did in an "High Stress" F2SConsulting class back in 2012.  If you are shooting from inside your vehicle out, through your windshield, your bullets will have a slope upward, and if you are shooting into a vehicle through a windshield you bullets will have a slope downward.  This highly depends on the particular vehicle, model, year and angle of windshield.

One of the funniest take away's from this particular situation is the internet is going crazy how this officer messed up, be he did not even remotely, he did really well.  He was using a completely OEM Glock 17 with a rubber grip cover and a cheap WML.  So all those guys walking around with $2000+ gucci glocks might need to wipe the crow off their faces.

With every video I see and take apart piece by piece, the same universal truth keeps coming to the forefront.  You fight like you train.  You have to train to be proficient and proper training is the way.  You are responsible for everything that occurs just as you are responsible for your level of competence in any given situation or skill sets, especially deadly force situations.  Make the right decisions and train your naturally ingrained responses to manifest correctly in the real world.  We are all responsible for our ignorance, make overcoming your deficiencies a priority right now.