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Cool is not always right - Anaheim, CA


Two officers respond to a call for an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) who is armed with a "gun and knife" inside a white S10, being high, and threatening his family.  The responding officers, both fairly new, one on probation, see the subject vehicle and immediately attempt to stop this vehicle.



Initial:
0:07 - Driver's side door is open, being held open by a foot likely.  This is an excellent application to vehicle based contact.
0:10-12 - "Hey dude stop the car" while pointing a pistol at the subject.  First and foremost, the subject likely did not hear anything those officers were telling him, not through an open window and especially not with him seeing the firearm (and/or possibly the police vehicle).  The officers are pointing pistols at him because they feel the, completely justified, need to show the ability of force due to the nature of the call.
0:15 - Both officers get into their vehicle and try to pull him over after the subject flees.  Subject flees.
Pursuit: 
0:22 - Driving officer attempts to put on his seat belt and disregards it mid-pull drawing his firearm, this is clearly because he saw something which prompted it.
0:27-0:28 - "give us some distance" the passenger officer said, he was talking to the driving officer, most likely in response to the subject brandishing a pistol.
0:32-0:34 - "dude give us some distance, dude dude!" The passenger officer starts to tell the driving officer, you can hear the echo either because of the passenger officer being keyed up on the radio or because of feedback from the body camera.
Initial OIS:
0:35 - Driving officer fires the first volley through the windshield.  
0:42 - First radio transmission after the shots were fired.
0:49-0:50 - Speed accelerate and driving officer empties his magazine.
0:52 - "Reloading, reloading, reloading, start firing!" which the passenger officer responds with "getting the rifle, hold on" - I cannot stress how important it is to NOT tell another officer to shoot at someone.  The decision to fire upon someone should be that officers sole decision and their decision alone.  Maybe the driving officer has military service and/or certain higher-than-average levels of training but telling another officer to shoot at someone is an absolute NO GO.
1:00 - The passenger officer begins to manipulate his AR15 rifle.  
1:09 - Driving officer has a malfunction with his pistol, either from limp-wristing or from retarding the cycle by debris in the slide (he is pretty close to the windshield that's throwing glass everywhere).
1:16 - Passenger officer discharges his AR15 twice inside the vehicle, "fuckkkk" response from the driving officer is exactly what happens, *insert Morpheus "yes" meme" here from the Matrix movies*
1:27 - "he's pointing the gun backwards at us" - nearly a minute after the driving officer begins to discharge his pistol at the fleeing subject the first justification for such action was stated over the radio.  Yes, officers do not have to immediately say over radio that such an action was taken due to various acceptable circumstances for delaying this information.  However, a minute in a gunfight is an eternity for backup officers who will undoubtedly be responding.  Part of good officer safety practices is to immediately tell police radio that you were in an OIS and your location, this is as much for you as it is for your fellow/backup officers who are flying in.  They need to know what they are heading into.
1:40 - Driving officer discharges out the left side of the open driver's side window, which is to say that the subject was turning and they were following.  Missing at this angle would mean rounds are flying into a backdrop that is unacceptable.
1:45 - "Don't take the shot" - which means there may have been a vehicle or people in the way or backdrop.  Since they were in a residential neighborhood, technically speaking, there were potentially people in the backdrop at all times.
1:53 - "I'm out of ammo do you have a 9?" the driving officer says and reaches out his hand.  Good forward thinking and problem solving.
2:07 - "Subject is hit and we know he's bleeding" - this means they see blood and that their fire was effective and/or the subject self-inflicted.
2:22 - I think one of the officer's said "I'm going to try to hit his head" at this point.  I am not really sure what the reasoning here is, at all times the officer's should have been trying to stop the threat as fast as possible.
2:24 - "alright shoot shoot shoot" yells the driving officer and the passenger officer yells back "move over!" which means there may be a need for the police vehicle to move over to a more desirable point to allow for proper angles of fire.
Out of vehicle:
2:36 - Driving officer opens his door as he begins to stop and park his vehicle, as you can see he has to use his left hand to open the door and put the car in park as his right hand has his pistol in it.  You can hear the passenger side officer firing his rifle twice.
2:42 - Driving officer exists his vehicle and fires to slide lock at the white pickup, while moving to a position of cover and reloading on the move.  Good technical skills displayed.
2:49 - Driving officer beings to assault forward, firing as he's moving.
2:57 - Driving officer's gun goes to slide lock on a partially empty mag - which means he reloaded on a half empty mag.  I do not recall seeing him do an admin mag change, or maybe the gun malfunctioned and instead of clearing it he just reloaded.  This means he had an extra mag on his person at all times and took a magazine from his partner when he did not need to, this is what we would refer to as a dick move.  The driving officer yelled "shoot shoot" as he reloaded, good tactical competency.
3:02 - Driving officer discharges into the cab of the subject's truck, you can see in the beginning of this scene, once the officer clears the bush that the subject may have had his arms up.  Not a reason to stop shooting, especially if you reasonably believe need to use deadly force.
3:04 - Driving officer puts three more rounds into the subject after getting a visual of him seated in his truck.  
After Shooting:
3:10 - Driving officer gets behind the passenger officer, taps him on the back and both officers L-Shape the subject, excellent use of tactics.
3:16 - Camera angle changes to the passenger officer's body camera, and you can see the driving officer pull the subject out of the vehicle.
3:25 - An officer is yelling "Hey watch out that's his dad" which is good situational awareness on the officer's part.  
3:35 - Passenger officer slinging his rifle and asking for another glove, never, ever, under any circumstance touch a subject that's bleeding.  
3:48 - Camera switches back to driving officer, you can hear him yelling and apologizing that he can't hear (probably because of the rifle discharge in the vehicle).  You also see that the passenger officer has two stripes and a star on his sleeve, which usually means that they are FTO's and/or some kind of corporal rank. 
3:52 - Driving officer points to a gun and asks another officer to go get it.  I may have missed the pistol being thrown or kicked away from the subject in the video, maybe they left it out of the edit.
4:11 - Driving officer takes a deployed pocket knife out of what appears to be the subjects hand.
4:18 - There is a short snippet of an older sergeant with glasses putting on his gloves very nonchalantly. 
4:29 - Driving officer walks away and is taking deep breaths.  He is still riding the adrenaline wave.
Video ends as the officers are walking with the older sergeant and turning off their body cameras.

Thoughts and Analysis:
A previous article I wrote about a LVMPD officer who was chasing some badguys and having a shoot out with them is very similar to this, however slightly different.  There are some practical issues here which should be addressed as they are major pitfalls for the LE community in general.  Before that, I want to say there are two sources you can get more information on this occurrence from, first the DA's report on this incident and second is the official video released by the Official Anaheim, CA Police Department video detailing their investigation and thoughts.  I am a fan of both of these types of reports being released to further help understanding of these types of occurrences.  It revealed that the driving officer was on FTO/probationary period and was terminated, the passenger officer was an FTO officer who was training the driving officer and he is on standard admin leave due to this occurrence.  It was also revealed that the pistol the subject had was a C02 BB gun.  The DA's office report declined to charge either officer with any crimes stemming from this shooting and cleared both of them.  So you are probably thinking, why was the driving officer fired? Aside from being on probation, especially if the DA's office did not charge either officer?  I am going to speculate a bit because I do not know Anaheim's pursuit policy or deadly force policy, but I will go off of standards and acceptable norms within the LE field in general.

It it always in the best interest of intellectual honesty to remember that hindsight is 20/20, and with the information the two officers had at the time of the priority radio call being dispatched, their actions were reasonable in nature, and well within what a prudent officer would have done.  There is just several exceptions which border the line of reasonableness and I want to explore them so that those reading this may understand certain concepts which will hopefully aid them in determining actions in the future. 

The initial attempt to stop and immediate pursuit of the subject are reasonable, due to the fact that the 911 caller stated that the subject had a firearm and threatened to kill himself and/or his parents and/or others.  Many departments have adopted a "forcible felony" standard for pursuits, and while this may not qualify in some states/departments, it should. 

The driving officer saw the firearm and immediately engaged the subject through the windshield.  The issue here is that the subject having a firearm, in and of itself, does not immediately reach the level of use of deadly force.  Mere possession of a firearm does not, in and of itself, immediately escalate the need to engage a person holding that firearm.  Once the subject began to point that firearm at the officers (or others) then a reasonable and prudent officer should believe that deadly force may be immediately required to stop the subject from causing serious injury and/or death.  In this occurrence, the fact that they were in pursuit of a vehicle in a residential neighborhood, means that there has to be an additional level of care which is required to be applied to any force used. 

Were the officer's use of deadly force (shooting) at the subject after his brandishing of a pistol justified? Completely, they made the decision based on the dispatch information, on the fact that the subject immediately fled from police and his intentional pointing of a firearm at the officers compounded together, believing that deadly force would be the immediate remedy for the deadly force threat presented.  The issue here is, was deadly force required in such a capacity during the pursuit?

Shooting out of a vehicle is inherently dangerous and difficult, as I stated in the LVMPD article.  It is very easy to miss due to the movement of the vehicles, the bullets could bounce or skip, making their trajectory unpredictable, and the LVMPD pursuit shooting was based on a highway (for some of it) with brick walls on either side.  Shooting through a windshield is sometimes ineffective and requires "punching a hole" for future rounds to be effective.  The immediate need for application of deadly force should always be weighed against the public's safety, especially in these types of occurrences.  Had the driving officer waited for the subject to fire upon them, then possibly the situation would have gone down differently, and that it would have turned into a felony/high risk car stop in the subject's parents driveway. 

The decision to use deadly force is always left to the individual officer to make, no one can, or should, ever tell another officer to use deadly force.  It is not a justification for use of deadly force that another officer told you to do so, you have to develop your own reasonableness for the deadly force application.  As such, the statements made by the driving officer to the passenger officer in this regard were inadvisable.  Yes, if you are reloading you would want your backup/cover officer to shoot at the threat, tactically that is good practice, however in this occurrence it was beyond the scope of the driving officer's ability to compel, with statements or otherwise, the passenger officer's actions. 

Beyond that, in my opinion, the driving officer was fired during probation because of his shooting out of a moving vehicle while the vehicle was in motion, during a pursuit while not being fired upon and creating an undo risk to the general public.  While a LEO should not wait until they are fired upon to use deadly force, the weight of public safety is paramount to the LE mission, and that as a guiding principal would show that the shooting out of a moving vehicle may straddle the line between reasonableness and unreasonableness.  If there was an innocent person hit and/or killed during this occurrence I believe that the DA's office would have charged both officers after an investigation.  As of this article I could not find any documentation or reporting of anyone other than the subject being struck. 

The willingness to use deadly force is also a subject here which should not be passed over.  The fact is that deadly force should be used as a complete last resort, only in the situations which require it and only when there is an immediate deadly threat to the officers, or others, from a subject who has clearly demonstrated their willingness to use deadly force or the threat of deadly force.  This is important because that threshold can be immediately unmet by overwhelming violence of action.  In this occurrence, the continuous use of deadly force by the driving officer specifically showed that while it may still be required, especially if the subject continued to brandish weapons aggressively, the driving officer may have had a different result (as being fired during probation) if he were to have limited his deadly force application to only certain times and not shot out of his moving vehicle. 

Hopefully the driving officer gets another LE job if that is something he wishes to pursue further, the FTO officer probably will be put back on the street since he was cleared by the DA's office, he might take a hit for some departmental things here or there. 

The other two topics relating to this occurrence I want to touch on are firearm manipulation and tactics.  The driving officer's firearm manipulations were very good, he was using his "workspace" while shooting and moving, he was thinking forward and problem solving.  All of that was great except for his, possible, overreach of deadly force application.  The two officers clearly did not have any communications or training which they both understood.  When two LEO's work together for any period of time, becoming partners, they should develop an understanding of some kind to properly apply certain tactics.  Contact/cover, high/low, reloads during contacts, other applications of force and/or tactics should be something they both understand and should be able to do without verbal communication if needed.  Granted that takes a lot of training but it is worth developing, especially so in teams where the LEO's have been working together for a long period of time.