The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis II)

In a previous post, I discussed Officer A’s shooting performance during the incident. The weapon system manipulation aspects also bear discussion.

This incident forced Officer A to manipulate two different flashlights in rapid succession. He approached the scene with a hand held light, which most industry professionals would consider a best practice. At the gate, he immediately had to make a SHOOT decision and held onto his handheld light while shooting using his weapon mounted light. His shooting grip was compromised as a result. This image capture is from immediately after his sixth shot.

It’s apparent he is holding onto his handheld light with the ring and little fingers of his Support (left) Hand and trying to wrap his index and middle fingers around his pistol. The compromised grip may have been part of the reason for his low hit rate with the first five shots. This observation is not a criticism of Officer A, rather it’s a recognition of the complexity of the manipulation problem he encountered. Having and rapidly using two different types of flashlight in succession is not a training drill we often practice, myself included.

As is often the case, technology has advanced more rapidly than practical doctrine for using it. Several possibilities arise for using the two lights.

  1. Simply do the best you can with what you’ve got, as Officer A was forced to do.
  2. Shoot one handed, while maintaining control of the handheld light in the Support Hand.
  3. Drop the handheld, shoot with the weapon mounted light, and then retrieve the handheld light when necessary or feasible.
  4. Have the handheld on a large flexible ring that allows it to be dropped without losing total control of it. This is the approach I am currently experimenting with.

It’s worth noting that one incident in Real Shootouts of the LAPD involved the use of a flashlight. Also, some of the tragedies referenced in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make could have been averted by the use of a flashlight. The Ochoa Incident gives us some food for thought about the need for doctrine and practice with flashlights.

Other Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

2 responses

  1. Here is what works for me when using a small handheld flashlight

    I use a dog tag silencer over the index finger of the support hand. I hold the light with the thumb on the switch and fingers wrapped around it. With a flick of the wrist I can swing the light to the back of the hand so can still shoot with both hands. A “reverse” flick and the light is back in my hand. The dog tag silencer sticks out of the pocket I carry the light in which makes pulling the light a bit faster. My index finger catches the loop and the light comes out in the ready position.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. There was a rubber guard made by Thrym and designed by Costa, I think. that did the same thing. I bought one, but it was for the wrong model flashlight, so it sits in the cabinet.

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