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NYPD Shooting Revives Debate Over Force

November 18th, 2007 . by TexasFred

NEW YORK (AP) - A candy bar, a wallet, even a pair of baggy pants can draw deadly police gunfire.

The killing of a hairbrush-brandishing teenager last week was the latest instance of police shootings in which officers reacted to what they erroneously feared was a weapon. It has revived debate over the use of force, perceptions of threats and police training.

“We have cases like that all over the country where it can be a wallet, a cell phone, a can of Coca-Cola and officers have fired the weapon,” said Scott Greenwood, a Cincinnati attorney who has worked on police use-of-force cases across the country and who is a general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It does not necessarily mean it was excessive use of force,” he added. “However, those types of incidents do give rise to greater suspicion on the part of the public about how police use force and they call into question the training departments are using to train officers to perceive and respond to threats.”

The New York Police Department says the officers who fired 20 shots at 18-year-old Khiel Coppin on Nov. 12 were justified in their use of force. The mentally ill teenager approached officers outside his mother’s home with a black object in his hand - the hairbrush - and repeatedly ignored orders to stop.

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NYPD Shooting Revives Debate Over Force

My very 1st question is this, they fired 20 shots at this person, how many were hits?? How many were in the 10 ring??

Let me tell folks something, for those that may not know, when you’re an officer and you are engaged in a close proximity confrontation, nerves are taught, tensions are high and your self survival is the 1st thought in your mind if a suspect has an object in their hand and you consider it to be a viable threat to your safety or that of others, and if you feel that threat is a deadly threat, you remove it as soon as possible in a manner that leaves no room for a counter attack by the suspect, whether that suspect is male, female, white, black or green with yellow polka dots…

The officers were responding to a 911 call in which Coppin could be heard in the background saying he had a gun. But in a second 911 call Coppin’s mother told the operator her son wasn’t armed, and after officers arrived she repeated that to them.

And here’s another tidbit for the uninformed, a domestic violence call is THE most dangerous call an officer can respond to, family members, even when beaten, battered, abused, cut and in some cases shot, WILL stick together once the police become involved, often times police are attacked by the victim of the violence as they, the police, try to subdue and/or arrest the person that had caused the harm, it’s a fact of life, and once that initial call went out that the suspect was armed with a gun, just because his mother calls back and says otherwise brings nothing to bear in the response of the officers involved, the natural and logical assumption of the officer is that the suspect is ALWAYS armed…

Last year, New York officers fired 50 bullets at three unarmed men in a car, killing Sean Bell on his wedding day and seriously wounding his two friends. Three officers are scheduled for trial in February.

In 1999, four New York City undercover officers fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo, striking him 19 times, when the 22-year-old man reached for his wallet while standing in an apartment building vestibule. The officers said they thought Diallo was reaching for a gun.

To me and my way of thinking, the 2 above quoted paragraphs beg for one more question to be asked, who in the hell is teaching the NYPD cops how to shoot?? I don’t know how many rounds struck the guys in the 1st paragraph but in the 2nd paragraph, regarding the shooting of one Amadou Diallo, 41 rounds were fired and 19 hits were sustained, that’s less than 50% efficiency, and that is a totally unacceptable figure for a shots fired to hit made ratio, those guys need more time on the pistol range in MY opinion…

NYPD instructors say recruits are repeatedly cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and to try to take cover and assess a situation before opening fire. But once shooting starts, officers are trained to “shoot to stop” by firing at a target’s “center mass” or torso.

And that translates into SHOOT TO KILL, and once again, for the uninformed, you don’t shoot anyone to make em feel better, IF you’re forced to fire your weapon, you fire for CENTER MASS, the 10 ring, and you make every attempt to put your adversary down permanently…

I guess my 1st thought was correct, these guys need more time on the range…

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8 Responses to “NYPD Shooting Revives Debate Over Force”

  1. comment number 1 by: Robert

    You and I read this the same Keystone cops with guns in NYC?, the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons read it as a Race crime, perpetrated by the cops….

    Wait for the Media bliz, the Jesse and Al show coming soon to a CNN show near you

  2. comment number 2 by: BobF

    First of all, any boys mother will say her son is unarmed, no matter how many guns he’s packing.

    When a cop tells you to stop, you stop! Put hands in the air, if told to do so, and don’t move. What’s so hard about that? My gosh, you don’t even need an education to understand that command….STOP! It doesn’t mean keep walking towards the cop with something in your hand, it means STOP.

    Maybe they need to go back to issueing revolvers to cops? That way they won’t have the tendency to “spray and pray”. With only 6 shots, you have to aim and make each shot count.

  3. comment number 3 by: Bloviating Zeppelin

    As many of my readers know (and I’ve written about this extensively on my blog on past posts), I’ve been in law enforcement for over 30 years. Three years ago I was my department’s Rangemaster. I now supervise our EVOC driver training facility — so I’ve had the luxury of supervising the two venues in law enforcement most responsible for officer deaths: guns and cars. At this specific point, cars are killing more cops than guns and assaults. That said, I’ve been in three critical incidents in my career in which I had to utilize deadly force. One incident resulted in the death of the suspect who drew on me.

    BobF makes the obvious assertion — one that NO ONE will then or now even remotely consider: when the nice officer says hands up, that’s generally an excellent suggestion.

    BobF also makes the point that I’ve suggested for many years: a return to the revolver. Its limited load, by its very nature, DEMANDS a concentration that few departments train — mine included. However, departments were essentially forced to transition to the semi-auto when that type became popular with criminals. Many officers, their unions and various administrations were concerned with the number of rounds available per reload — in those limited terms, a magazine beats a speedloader any day, model-dependent.

    However, it’s very interesting to note, that at least with my department, when semi-autos were authorized, most EVERY officer decided to carry Colt’s Government Model Series 80, which as we all know, only has a 7-round magazine capacity — with 1 down the throat if your department allowed you to carry in Condition One.

    I can recall, back then, that I actually received three COMPLAINTS from regular citizens who noted that I carried my Colt “cocked and locked” in its holster. And they vehemently denounced that as inherently unsafe.

    I’ve always liked the Colt and its concomitant .45 caliber round. I found it controllable, slim, easy to carry. When my department opened up to most any (then) semi-auto, I carried the Sig-Sauer P220 .45 with a European mag release. At that time I carried double pouches; one double pouch (4 magazines) on the front of my belt, another double pouch (another 4 magazines) on my left side. From there I tried the Glock 17 and found that, all things considered, I shot best with that gun — at least as well as my old Colt Python. Until, of course, we had some ADs due to stupid people, who didn’t understand the 1-2-3 of safing your Glock semi-auto for cleaning.

    The hit ratio indicated here is poor. I cannot attest to NYPDs training, only my own. However, I can tell you my experience with handguns and rounds. On my department, everyone wants the .40 cal. We are limited to ONLY Sig-Sauers in 9mm and .40 cal. We are still trying to get over the “bigger round” theory for the “placement” theory. I personally carry the Sig P226 in 9mm on duty (though I can opt for the .40 cal if I wish) because I simply shoot better with it. Off duty, I carry the Sig P239 9mm my wife bought me, which is one sweet shooting handgun, with Hogue grips. It only has an 8-round mag (with one down the throat, which is how I ALWAYS carry it, and EVERY semi-auto I own — because an empty pipe = a STUPID shooter), but my confidence level with this gun is excellent.

    CONFIDENCE is everything. And moreover, PLACEMENT IS EVERYTHING.

    Let me repeat that for the brain-addled amongst us: round size means little; PLACEMENT is EVERYTHING.


  4. comment number 4 by: TexasFred

    When you can actually HIT what you shoot at, and I can, I tend to agree that caliber isn’t as important but I still like an XD-45 with a 5″ barrel, packing 13 in the mag, 1 in the chamber and ALL in Golden Sabre 230gr, and at least 6 spare mags…

    That’ll stop the baddest crack head from doing whatever the hell he may be doing…

    And I still carry a .357, a 6 shooter, a revolver, a weapon that, as so well stated in above comments, has a limited capacity and thus forces the user to become much more proficient than those that feel the best answer is to put rounds down range, I have a couple of em, and have total faith in both…  

    And regardless of the weapon, a calm head and a steady hand is a lot more important that a rapid fire lead spitter, I learned many years ago, fast is good, accurate is a lot better…

    And when you can take your .357 service revolver and fire a group, in 2.5 seconds, that can be covered with a .25 piece, you’re doing a damn good job of putting ACCURATE rounds down range, a concept that departments have obviously thrown to the curb…

  5. comment number 5 by: Bloviating Zeppelin

    I neglected to write this: my very FIRST handgun for law enforcement, when I was a Reserve first, was a blued 4″ Colt Python, which I purchased (then) for the massively-expensive price of $320. It was worth every penny, and was personally tuned by (then) tuner expert and California Governor’s Cup holder Bill Davis. With the FBI, I turned down the 10mm and carried the Python.


  6. comment number 6 by: BobF

    BZ, thanks for your professional insight. Thirty years is a long time in Law Enforcement and I salute you.

    When I was stationed in Montana I attended a personal protection course which was a prerequisite for a CCW permit. In this course they brought in a State Trooper, Sheriff Deputy, Lawyer, and a Surgeon who spent 7 years in the Detroit City Hospital Emergency Room. The law enforcement and legal types talked about the ramifications of using deadly force: mess, legal problems, retribution by criminal or their family, etc. The Surgeon spoke on the effects of bullets on the human body; he came complete with pictures. He went into detail on how a human is different from an animal and why a handgun round that works well on deer is less effective than another type of round that works well on humans but not animals. He said the best round to use against a human, from a medical standpoint, was a large caliber, slow moving bullet. What he described was the 45 ACP.

    Military special forces teams have abandoned the 9mm and have gone back to the 45 ACP. Myself, I have a Para Ordinance Black Watch Companion in 45 ACP, a Taurus PT-92C in 9mm, and a Taurus Model 85 in 38 spl. My favorite was my Colt Combat Commander which I gave to my oldest son last year. I made him a promise when he was a young boy that if he respected our firearms, listened to my instructions, didn’t tell his friends that we owned guns, and always…always…always assumed every gun was loaded until he personally proved it wasn’t, he could have his pick of my handguns. Needless to say, he picked my Colt.

    The guy that got me into shooting was a sniper and tunnel rat in Vietnam. His thing was Practice, Practice, Practice.

  7. comment number 7 by: TexasFred

    Well, back in the OLD days I carried a 1911 .45 that Jim Clark in Shreveport had tuned up for me, and I don’t mean Jimmy, I mean Mr. Clark…

    Then I moved up to a Mark IV Series 70, best damn pistol I ever owned…

    I still love my S&W 10MM, BZ said that about the 10MM and I had to mention it, damn good weapon but expensive to shoot just for kicks, and for some reason the .40 has taken all the glory from the venerable 10MM.

    My son carries an XD-40 on duty and loves it, his fiance carries a Glock and she love it too, me personally, you can’t GIVE me a Glock unless I am needing some sinkers for yo-yo’s in DEEP water, I hate a Glock, it’s a personal thing, I had one, a Glock 17, and the damn thing would jam, stove pipe actually, about every 5th or 6th round, no matter WHO shot it, there was something wrong with that pistol and I swore I’d never have another Glock…

    The one thing this thread has brought out is this, PRACTICE makes perfect…

    No matter what you carry, become as proficient as you possibly can, ALWAYS shoot for CENTER MASS and never regret the fact that you had to put an ANIMAL down…

  8. comment number 8 by: Patrick Sperry

    This is perhaps the best discussion about this subject that I have read. Aside from military service, and sending some jihad types to paradise while on a bus tour in Israel I have been involved in two situations that required the use of deadly force. Once to protect my mother, and once while on duty in the back country of San Diego county. Both required that only one round be fired. Super Vel ammo, and a 357 Model 65 did the trick.

    Practice, practice, and then practice some more!