This is the video of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. officer involved shooting that occurred on July 11, 2018. LVPD was in pursuit of two murder suspects in the SUV. The suspects shot at pursuing officers and the lead pursuing officer engaged the suspects ultimately killing one and wounding the other.
First and foremost, this is not meant to negatively critique the officer depicted in the video. I commend his ability to take action and he is clearly shown having the ability to work through the problem. This write up is solely to point out things he could have done better for training purposes in hopes that we can all understand the importance of proper training.
We all have a false sense of security because we believe we will rise to the occasion. This is the biggest misconception in our line of work. My experience from multiple gunfights has hammered the point that we will only fall to the lowest form of training we received.
The video showed the officer clearly working through the problem and trying to make the best decision possible. He was able to stop the threat by aggressively pursuing and engaging the suspects. His aggressiveness no doubt played a big factor in the positive outcome of the incident.
In most violent encounters, the perpetrator does not expect you to come forward or go on the offensive. As Col. Grossman outlines in his book, “On Killing”, opposing sides will posture up in hopes the confrontation ends there. Think of it as like drunken people at a bar acting like they want to fight. Someone yells profanities at the other expecting he walks away. When he does not, there is a moment of disbelief and trying to figure out what to do next. In that moment of confusion by the perpetrator is the time for decisive action.
Shooting at or from a moving vehicle is rarely effective. The target area the officer needed to shoot at was the shoulder and head of the suspects since the rest of their bodies were covered and protected by various parts of the vehicle. The likelihood he got combat effective hits is slim to none.
We all know how difficult it is to shoot at a moving target or shooting while walking on a flat controlled range. The multiple shots he took were not effective and placed the public in greater danger. Furthermore, even if he had proper sight picture, the pistol caliber rounds would have been deflected as they went through the windshield. Remember we own each round we fire. Be aware of your target and what’s behind it.
The officer displayed poor weapon handlings skills. This was evident by his lack of trigger finger discipline and cross thumbs grip. He also unnecessarily switched to his support hand and attempted to insert a magazine facing the wrong way during a slide lock reload.
You need repetition to have any task become second nature. Think of it as turning on a light switch in the dark or driving car. You have to search for the switch if you are at a different house and driving feels foreign when you drive a different car.
That is the reason we do multiple repetitions of a drill during firearms training. Do the drill correctly and practice on your own to develop muscle memory.
To elaborate on the reload, the officer needed to put his pistol in his support hand to put his vehicle in park. The officer realized he was out of ammo prior to coming to a stop as indicated by the way he held his pistol in his support hand.
He then reloads in an unconventional way causing a dangerous delay due to his pistol and magazine not being in the proper orientation. Placing the car in park first before the reload compounded the delay. Priorities must be set. One cannot stop a threat with an empty weapon. Get your gun up, bring it to bear and stop the threat.
There are more efficient ways to conduct a slide lock reload. Pick a method the works best for you and be proficient at performing it with both your strong and support hand. Once again, repetition is key to build that muscle memory
Magazines should be set up so that it can be accessed with both hands and facing in a way that they will be in the right orientation regardless of which hand is used. One good option is a vertically mounted magazine pouch to the front of the body with the rounds facing outwards. This allows for the simplest way to access the magazines with either hand. Either way, drilling off hand reloads is still a must.
During a gunfight, you should fight from cover or to cover and use angles to gain a tactical advantage over the threat. Though the officer positioned him self in an angle that offered him an advantage, he did not use cover adequately.
The engine block, axles and wheels are cover. Those should be place in between you and the threat. The suspect vehicle did come to a stop abruptly and the officer may have not had enough time to maneuver his vehicle to provide the best cover but utilizing cover should always be on the top of the list. Flesh typically does not stop bullets very well.
Thanks for reading!
Romeo Santiago, Ghost Ring Tactical Instructor
Want to improve your training? Sign up for one of our Tactical Camps today: https://ghostringtactical.com