Category Archives: Incident Analysis

The Oscar Slap

The timeline of the Oscar Slap has much value in the study of Personal Protection and Self-Defense. It has been preserved for posterity and study on video. The Guardian provides a short clip that shows it.

  • Chris Rock makes his joke about “GI Jane 2.” = O second
  • Will Smith laughs  = +1 second
  • Jada Pickett Smyth rolls her eyes = +3 seconds
  • Chris Rock says, “Uh oh,” meaning Will Smith was already on his feet = +10 seconds
  • Will Smith slaps Rock = +15 seconds

From the first indication something was going to happen, five or at most six seconds transpired.

Note the distances involved. Smith and Rock were no more than 25 feet (Near Phase of Public Space) apart.

Note also that Smith didn’t do a “Tueller Drill” on Rock. He walked purposefully but not even at a rapid pace to cover the 20 to 25 feet of ground.

Dr. Phil says “What bothers me? No one – no security or anybody came on the stage to protect Chris, and no one in Will’s camp – nobody stepped up to save him from himself.”

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/dr-phil-reveals-bothers-him-080152453.html

Dr. Phil’s guest Exavier Pope, an attorney, legal analyst, and host of the podcast SuitUp, common tated, “He had a whole runway. That’s a lot of cooling time, not just for Will Smith but for anyone to have stopped him.”

Five seconds is NOT “a lot of time,” especially for something as unexpected as a Battery (Cal. Penal Code § § 242, 243) during a high profile televised Black Tie event.

https://www.imagebaseddecisionaldrills.com/

Also observe that it took less than 10 seconds for Will Smith’s laughter at the joke to turn into violent action. The term “trigger” is appropriate.

When it’s least expected, you’re elected.

–John Farnam

For anyone who thinks this was staged, look at Will Smith’s face when he shouts “Keep my wife’s name out your f**king mouth” near the end of the clip. That’s genuine anger. BOLO for it and keep your distance.

CCW Safe Podcast – Encountering Home Intruders

CCW Safe interviewed me about my Five Year Analysis of the Armed Citizen for a podcast recently. The emphasis of this interview was incidents in the home. It is now available to read and listen to.

In Self Defense – Episode 97: Claude Werner on Encountering Home Intruders – CCW Safe National … https://ccwsafe.com/blog/in-self-defense–episode-97-claude-werner-on-encountering-home-intruders

Significant points for me in the interview were:

  • Timing of the incidents
  • Misapplication of the Tueller Principle
  • Distinction between self-defense and personal protection
  • Accessibility of weapons

Here are some Home Defense examples that have occurred more recently. As always, there are Positives and Negatives.

It is was an interesting interview and worth listening to.

Denny’s Shootings and Fights

My colleague Caleb Causey https://www.lonestarmedics.com/ posted the following meme on Instagram.

This made me curious so I did a little research. The following incidents turned up. 🙂

El Paso -January 23rd 2022 fight followed by shooting https://kfoxtv.com/news/local/man-is-chased-out-of-dennys-in-a-fight

Monzell Brocks of Wichita. – Nov. 10, 2021 https://www.kwch.com/2021/11/10/shooting-dennys-leaves-man-critical-condition/ – Update victim deceased, suspect arrested. https://www.kake.com/story/45325687/police-arrest-suspect-in-fatal-shooting-outside-dennys-in-southeast-wichita

Woman shot Kansas City, MO. – Jul 7, 2021 https://www.kmbc.com/article/kansas-city-missouri-police-department-says-woman-shot-at-dennys-restaurant-off-blue-ridge-cutoff/36648838

Man shot in Spartanburg, SC – Apr 3, 2021 https://www.wspa.com/news/developing-large-deputy-presence-at-dennys-in-spartanburg/

On April 30, 2019, 36-year-old Crest Hill resident Gregory G. Brown Jr. was gunned down in the parking lot of Denny’s on Plainfield Road. Joliet IL https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2019/05/03/joliet-police-dennys-shooting Plea agreement https://patch.com/illinois/joliet/joliet-murder-defendant-pleads-guilty-armed-robbery / It’s unclear what her complicity was but she may have set the victim up to be robbed.

Salinas California – 9:45 p.m. February 19, 2021, two persons shot at the North Main Street Denny’s, located at the corner of two of Salinas’ busiest streets. https://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2021/02/20/salinas-police-2-shot-1-critical-after-gunfire-north-salinas-california-dennys-restaurant/4523869001/

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) – Officers were called to Denny’s on 13th Ave. S., at 2:59 a.m. December 5, 2021 https://www.valleynewslive.com/2021/12/06/man-arrested-threatening-shoot-people-dennys/ Note: arrested man was from Oxford, MS

Plano TX Dec 14, 2021 Fight with officers https://starlocalmedia.com/planocourier/man-arrested-following-alleged-altercation-at-a-dennys-in-plano/article_f6166aea-5d20-11ec-a357-9b9e3b6c3633.html Note: Police say amid Walker’s struggle with police, a firearm fell out of his boot. Authorities allege that the firearm was stolen from Raytown, Missouri. No search would be complete without including a stolen firearm.

FRIDAY 01/05/21 6:57 p.m. OREM, Utah (ABC4) – Officers are on the scene of a stabbing at a Denny’s in Orem. Officers say they responded to reports of a stabbing and got to the scene to find three victims who were wounded. https://www.abc4.com/news/local-news/three-people-stabbed-at-dennys-in-orem-police-investigating/

Sep. 7, 2021 at 10:05 AM EDT RENO, Nev. (KOLO) – At least two people are in custody in Placer County after an early-morning shooting led to a chase. According to Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong, the incident appears to have started near Bellevue Road Tuesday morning and later moved to the Denny’s on North Carson Street. Furlong says that’s where multiple shots were fired and a car was hit; however, no injuries have been reported. https://www.kolotv.com/2021/09/07/two-suspects-custody-after-early-morning-shooting-carson-city/

Of course, no search for shootings would fail to find at least one Unintentional Discharge in a car. NASHUA, N.H. — A man was critically wounded in an accidental shooting early Tuesday morning in Nashua, police said. The 35-year-old man was alone when the incident happened at about 2 a.m. Feb 17, 2021 in the parking lot of the Denny’s restaurant on Gusabel Avenue. https://www.wmur.com/article/heavy-police-presence-reported-in-nashua/35516185#

Delivery Driver Killed in Shooting at Virginia Denny’s. DoorDash driver and father of two Yusuf Ozgur was shot and killed after he “unknowingly held the door for the suspects as they exited”. December 26, 2019 https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/customer-at-dennys-slain-another-shot-during-armed-robbery-in-manassas/2192475/

Man Pulls Gun on Denny’s Employee. A man pulled a gun on an employee in the restroom of Denny’s Roscoe Boulevard location in Van Nuys early Monday morning. Jun 22, 2021 https://roundtable.io/keynewsnetwork/california/man-pulls-gun-on-dennys-employee

Argument over chicken tenders leads to late-night Grand Slam in Bryant restaurant. Mar 25, 2021 / 03:40 PM CDT The officer said he ran both of their IDs to find that both men had multiple warrants out of different jurisdictions. https://www.fox16.com/news/local-news/argument-over-chicken-tenders-leads-to-late-night-grand-slam-in-bryant-restaurant/

Man Withdraws Stand Your Ground Request in Denny’s Shooting. Published August 10, 2016. Police say he shot [his girlfriend] in the face inside the Denny’s women’s bathroom. The victim survived the shooting. https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/man-withdraws-stand-your-ground-request-in-dennys-shooting/65746/ Update: He was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

These incidents also popped up but I didn’t investigate them further.

When you go out to eat, especially late at night, don’t assume that the only heaters are in the kitchen. It’s always best to bring your own also and know how to use it.

100 percent standards

‘Tragic’: Teen apparently killed by stray police bullet in LA Burlington dressing room identified

https://abcnews.go.com/US/14-year-girl-dressing-room-killed-stray-bullet/story?id=81919639

This is an example of why I believe in 100 percent standards, not 70, 80, or anything less. My guess is that those officers will not last long on the LAPD and it’s not because they will get fired.

They will leave because the overwhelming majority of cops are decent people who want to do the right thing in life. That poor girl’s killing will haunt those officers forever. Whenever they put on their duty weapons, it will remind them of the consequences of the incident. No decent person wants to be reminded of that every day.

I’ll be following the investigation of this one closely.

Skills involved in the Oakland Incident (Part I)

#saturdayskills

An aspect of POlice Use of Deadly Force incidents is that they tend to receive more media and other coverage than successful Private Citizen incidents. Captain (Ret.) Ersie Joyner’s gas station shootout in Oakland https://www.ktvu.com/news/retired-oakland-police-captain-wounded-1-other-killed-during-gas-station-gun-battle is no exception. Given the media’s bias, if this had occurred to a lawfully carrying Private Citizen, it’s unlikely it would have received the degree of favorable coverage it has. The amount of coverage works in our favor when viewing it from the standpoint of Lessons to be Learned.

The surveillance video of the incident gives us a very definite view of the skillset Captain Joyner used. It also gives us the opportunity to wargame other skills or tactics that would have been desirable.

  1. Wait for an opportunity to escape or counterattack
  2. Create distance while maintaining visual contact with assailants
  3. Establish grip
  4. Make the Draw Decision
  5. Draw to the eye-target line
  6. Engage Mr. Red, preferably with at least two rounds
  7. Transition 60 degrees and engage Mr. Black, preferably with at least two rounds
  8. Actual Positioning – pursue into the open
  9. Alternative Positioning – pursue to a position of cover or at least concealment
  10. Desirable Positioning – create even more distance
  11. Desirable Positioning – take cover

Tasks 3, 5, 6, and 7 constitute the solution to the shooting aspects of the incident. Individually, they are very similar to the 6 and 10 foot Stages of the Louisiana Qual Course video.

Just as with the off-duty incidents chronicled in Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/, it’s not hard to picture a Private Citizen becoming involved in exactly this same scenario. If Kalifornia had a Shall Issue system for issuing licenses/permits to carry handguns, it’s probable that more such Outcomes would occur.

An interesting aspect of the incident was that despite three robbers physically searching the victim, his concealed handgun was not discovered. This seems unusual. A distinct possibility is that he carried a small pistol in his pocket. At the moment he began to access his handgun, his elbow position is much more consistent with a pocket draw than either an Appendix or Hip carry draw.

Task 3, Establish Grip, is the most time consuming part of the drawstroke. Surreptitiously being able to Establish Grip while creating distance and prior to making the Draw Decision would explain how Captain Joyner was able to Draw and Engage so quickly. The ability to Establish Grip without making the motions commonly associated with drawing a pistol is one of the strengths of pocket carry. In many cases, it’s possible to shield an attacker’s view of Establishing Grip by slightly blading one’s body, although Captain Joyner didn’t do that in this case.

Captain Joyner must be exceptionally coordinated because when executing Task 2, Create Distance, he was actually able to take three steps backward without tripping over his own feet. He was able to do this even while he was in the process of Establishing Grip. Humorously speaking, since we’ve been told that tripping over one’s feet when walking backward is almost inevitable, this was an absolutely amazing display of physical prowess. In actuality, using a dragging shuffle step probably would have been more of a giveaway to his assailants than simply walking backward.

The mother of the deceased robber made the statement to the press, “death was not the answer. many people act unruly and even commit crimes in young adulthood, but go on to lead productive lives.” Captain Joyner clearly felt that his own death was not the answer and good for him for making that decision. Even if a criminal doesn’t intend to shoot you, it doesn’t mean they won’t have an Unintentional Discharge and kill you ‘by accident.’

More about the skills involved and how to practice them will be covered in a future Part II.

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Breaking Contact (Part 6)

#walkbackwednesday

It makes me happy that my thoughts about the explicit difference in the missions of Law Enforcement and Private Citizens are becoming mainstream. I appreciate the various members of the training community who are amplifying my concept that Breaking Contact is the fundamental mission of Private Citizens in self-defense or defense of others. My colleague John Correia has produced an excellent video about a recent incident with numerous learning points in it.

My initial takeaways from the ASP video.

  • pay attention and recognize when you’re in a transitional space
  • when your gas gets started pumping, step around to the other side of your vehicle
  • purposeful compliance until your counter-attack or escape opportunity arises
  • counter ambush (i.e., counter-attack)
  • different missions between law enforcement officers and private citizens
    • the mission for a private citizen defensive encounter is to break contact
  • only hits count (close range precision marksmanship)

The close range precision marksmanship of this incident are particularly noticeable in the video. Although Mr. Red was only double arm’s length (5 feet) away, he was also in profile. His target area in total was no larger than a sheet of paper in portrait mode.

Mr. Black was about triple arm’s length (8 feet) away. Like Mr. Red, he was also a profile target and his target area was not very large.

The ability to hit an eight inch circle or even smaller target at close range with the first shot can be essential to survival. Regardless of what one thinks about using the sights under stress, it’s obvious that Captain Joyner had his pistol in his eye-target line. He did this despite both attackers being within proxemic Social Space. An important note about Captain Joyner is that this wasn’t his first rodeo; Oakland is a tough place.

Over his career, Joyner was involved in five shootings as an officer

KTVU

Breaking Contact is one of the fundamental concepts of Thinking Clearly about Self-defense and Personal Protection https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208 It’s a strategy in the sense of doing the right things, as opposed to tactics, which are doing things right.

CCW Safe https://ccwsafe.com/ did an excellent series of blog posts about the concept of Breaking Contact. The key principle and goal is contained in the first post.

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

My article about the basic philosophy of breaking contact is here.

The Oakland POlice Department has posted a clear picture of the getaway vehicle.

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The Baldwin Killing (Part I)

Since I’ve been asked several times my opinion about the Baldwin Killing, I’ll address those questions from the perspective of firearms safety only. The incident is a high profile example of a Serious Mistake leading to a Negative Outcome. Such a tragic event bears analysis to see what are the lessons that can be learned to prevent other such incidents, either on a movie set or in our personal lives, in the future.

For those who haven’t read the news lately, actor Alec Baldwin unintentionally discharged a revolver on a movie set last week. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/alec-baldwin-shooting-halyna-hutchins-latest-b1945263.html The film’s Cinematographer was killed by a single bullet that struck her in the torso and the Director was injured. RIP Ms. Hutchins.

Those who are interested in a legal aspects of the case can find my colleague Andrew Branca’s initial legal analysis on YouTube. https://youtu.be/upDuj8Ec Such an analysis is out of my league, so I will stay in my own lane and confine my comments to safety.

What occurred points out a very simple fact of life:

Firearms, like electricity, are relentlessly unforgiving of the slightest lapse in attention

The Tactical Professor

One of the slides in the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course states that Ignorance and Carelessness are the causes of firearms accidents.

NRA Training Department

The concept of ‘tolerance stackup’ often applies when an Unintentional Discharge occurs. By this we mean that when Ignorance and Carelessness overlap each other, the possibility of a Negative Outcome dramatically increases. Sadly for Ms. Hutchins, she was downrange when that overlap occurred.

A comment was made on an earlier version of Andrew’s video about the probability that the gun being used was a single action revolver. The commentator noted that the manual of arms of a single action is more complicated than a modern autoloading pistol. The extra steps involved in clearing a single action may have contributed to the discharge. For once, a comment was worth reading. Extra caution needs to be taken when handing firearms that have an unfamiliar and perhaps difficult manual of arms. That’s definitely a lesson that can be taken away from the incident.

There is no standard manual of arms that can be applied across all firearms, even modern ones. For instance, the Ruger LCP has a manual device for locking open the action but it does not lock open automatically. Conversely, the KelTec P-32 and P3AT do not have an external device to lock open the slide and require an empty magazine to do so. Despite the fact that the guns look very similar, they operate differently and require the operator to understand how to work them.

Another comment on the earlier Branca video came from a POlice firearms instructor who said there were at least 11 different firearms safety rules that have to be observed on any firearms range. While a case can be made for that argument, 11 or more rules constitutes a checklist that has to be written down. The need for long lists to be written down, i.e., a checklist, was learned in aviation somewhere around a century ago. While appropriate for range operators, and perhaps the film’s armorer, it’s not compatible with the way the human mind works. A memory aid has to be short, e.g., the Four Rules, or organized as an acronym, e.g., SALUTE.

The Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling are a good memory aid. However, we need to keep in mind that a memory aid is not a full explanation of the concepts being remembered, it is merely a way to jog our memories about what the base concepts are so we can apply them fully. The distinction between checklists, memory aids, and the concepts either are based on is another lesson we can take away from The Baldwin Killing.

“That could never happen to me” thinking is one reason I developed the underlying concepts contained in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com years ago. I didn’t intend it for Hollywood actors but in retrospect, I wish the entire crew of the movie had read it. I’m not trying to be facetious or unkind to Ms. Hutchins’ memory by saying that.

More thoughts about The Baldwin Killing tomorrow.

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Intended Victim not ‘Subject’

The man did not know he was being followed according to police and once at the man’s home, [the shootee] allegedly produced a firearm and confronted the subject [sic] as he was trying to get out of his vehicle and go into his home.

https://wfxl.com/news/local/valdosta-shooting-ruled-self-defense

‘Subject,’ in POlice terms, is almost always used in the context of a wrong doer. In current times, the default treatment of anyone who shoots someone else is that the shooter is a criminal who must then prove his or her innocence. While some States provide some legal protection for self-defense, unless you never travel outside the county you live in, those protections cannot be relied on. ‘Stand Your Ground’ should always be viewed as a courtroom strategy not a tactical option. Keep that in mind. Do your best to AVOID or ESCAPE prior to being forced into CONFRONT or RESIST.

Surveillance Detection is a useful skill. Your car mirrors are a tool for you to use frequently, especially at 5AM. It’s beneficial to always take a few turns for Surveillance Detection purposes prior to committing yourself to turning into your driveway or other place you cannot escape from. Once you are Decisively Engaged https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/situational-awareness-and-positioning-part-i/ because your path is blocked, you are forced to CONFRONT or RESIST.

Note also that “the man was able to retrieve a handgun of his own.” ‘Retrieve’ most likely means that the gun was in the car not on his person. This mention is not intended as commentary about leaving unsecured guns in cars. Rather, it is an observation that many of the incidents in my database involve successfully accessing guns that are stored off-body.

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The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis II)

In a previous post https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/08/17/the-sandra-ochoa-incident-shooting-analysis/, 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.

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The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis)

Body Worn Video (BWV) not only has value for analysis of Use of Force, it also can be used as a shooting analysis tool. By looking at a BWV in conjunction the results of a subsequent investigation, we can arrive at a more complete picture of the shooting incident.

On May 31, 2020, LAPD officers responded to a radio call of a “murder suspect there now.” Upon arrival, the officers observed the suspect cutting the victim’s throat and an Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) occurred. The BWV of both officers present was later released by the LAPD. The incident was adjudicated by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners on May 4, 2021. The shooting was ruled objectively reasonable, necessary, and In Policy. https://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/023-20-ois-pr.pdf

A short edited and annotated video of the shooting portion of the incident is available on my YouTube Channel.

Several points can be derived from the BWV and the subsequent investigation and rulings. The first is that there is a significant difference between a shooting and gunfight. Noted firearms authority Ken Hackathorn mentioned years ago that a Private Citizen is just as likely to be involved in a ‘shooting’ as in a ‘gunfight,’ if not more so. In a shooting, there is sufficient cause to use a firearm (deadly force) in defense against an assailant who is armed with a contact weapon or personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.). This incident is a good example. The assailant was armed with a pair of scissors and succeeded in murdering her victim with those scissors.

The cadence of shooting by Officer A is another item we can analyze. The LAPD Force Investigation Division quantified the officer’s splits (time between shots) as follows:

  • Shot 2 – 0.340
  • Shot 3 – 0.286
  • Shot 4 – 0.232
  • Shot 5 – 0.247

The average of those splits was 0.276 seconds, with a total time for the first 5 shots of 1.105. The officer was shooting at a cyclic rate for the first five shots. Although he said he ‘assessed’ between those shots, it’s unlikely there was any assessment between shots 1 through 5. Shot number 6 had a split time of 0.711. That’s the more likely point of there being an assessment of bullet damage, i.e., target effect.

Just like Sergeant Tim Gramins in 2013 https://www.police1.com/officer-shootings/articles/why-one-cop-carries-145-rounds-of-ammo-on-the-job-clGBbLYpnqqHxwMq/ , he may have said to himself, “Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.” I.e., shoot better – meaning, achieve an adequate sight picture and perform a smoother trigger press. What likely occurred by the officer was a ‘Bullet damage assessment’ after 5 shots, followed by a marksmanship improvement and a more accurate 6th shot.

Of the 6 shots fired, 2 were hits. There’s no way to say for sure but the likelihood is that of the first 5 shots, 1 was a hit. The 6th shot was likely a hit and perhaps a better hit that got the message across. Viewed this way, there were actually 2 sequences of fire. Sequence 1 consisted of 5 shots resulting in 1 hit, a 20% hit ratio. Sequence 2 consisted of 1 shot, which resulted in 1 hit, a 100% hit ratio.

Nothing in this analysis is intended as a criticism of the officer. Shooting someone who isn’t immediately adjacent to a victim is difficult enough. Shooting with an innocent downrange and right next to the assailant is a very difficult task that is seldom practiced for.

Although the victim in this case died, there’s a good chance she had been fatally wounded prior to the shooting. The officer did the best he could under the circumstances. Not all situations have a Positive Outcome.

Other items of note were that, as is frequently the case, the officer under-estimated the number of shots he fired. There’s nothing uncommon about that. In most of the Categorical Use of Force reports, when more than two shots are fired, the officer undercounts. On the other hand, the officer estimated the distance of the shot quite accurately. He thought it was 20 to 25 feet and the actual distance was 18 feet. Very few people’s eyeballs are calibrated to better than 10% margin of error for distance.

The full LAPD news release video (NRF023-20) is posted on the LAPD YouTube Channel.

Incidents like these, but involving off duty officer incidents, is why I found my work on Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/ so worthwhile. The off duty Officer Involved Shootings very much mirrored the thousands of Private Citizen Armed Encountered I have studied. However, there was a great deal more detail available about what led up to the encounter and how it unfolded.

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