Once again, reddit.com has published a first-person description of an armed encounter. This time we’ve got a cop’s eye view of a late-night confrontation between a cashier and a couple of potential perps. Here’s the tale—with commentary that interprets events from a non-LEO perspective. YMMV. “OK, no shots fired, so if that’s what you’re fishing for, disregard this post . . .”

Having said that, I was off-duty and had gone in to a stop and rob for a pack of cigs. This was in a fairly shitty neighborhood, and in retrospect, I shouldn’t have stopped in at all, but fuck did I want some cigs.

It’s an excellent point. As the rabbi says, avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. They don’t call an area “a bad part of the town” because it lacks a Lamborghini dealership. Well, in LA they might, but you know what I mean. It’s easy enough to eyeball a store or bar or late night K-mart and think “not worth it.” Yes, it’s a free country. You are completely free to avoid trouble and live a long(er), happy life.

I was behind two fellas who were making it their mission in life to fuck with the middle-aged female clerk in the store. Both had carried open containers of alcohol (beers) into the store, and when the clerk confronted them, they began to decry the clearly racist policy of no open containers in the store.

If you—non-law enforcement person that you are—enter an environment where confrontation is occurring, leave. It’s that simple. Back out. If you’ve got groceries in your hand, put them down and leave. If it’s a doctor’s office, leave. A bank? Leave. Late night parking lot? Leave. You can’t get hurt if you’re not there when the hurting starts.

What of defending the defenseless? Protecting the innocent and society itself? In many if not most cases, everyone will be better off if you stay out of violent confrontations and call the pros. There’s an excellent chance that your intervention will make matters worse. You are under no legal obligation to save anyone’s life. Truth be told, neither are the cops.

Morally, well, it’s a judgement call. But until and unless there’s some real bloodshed, or the prospect of bloodshed, and maybe even then, I say no. If nothing else, keep this in mind: if you don’t know the totality of the circumstances, if you’ve walked into the middle of a scene like this officer, you can make a grave mistake about who’s doing what to whom and why. Figuring that all out is not your job.

Again, I was off-duty, not wearing a vest, and of course, not carrying a radio. Additionally, my wife was with me, and that all added up to avoiding confrontation if possible. Since being a loud, obnoxious asshole is not illegal in my state, I decided to let things ride in hopes that they would just leave. No such luck-they subsequently suggested several different sexual acts they’d like to perform on the clerk-preferably by force. The clerk seemed to be frozen in fear, and also looked like she was about to cry-and that just pissed me right the fuck off.

If you’re not going to leave during an escalating confrontation (it may be impossible to skee-daddle), you face a stark choice. Try and make you and yours invisible, or attempt to deescalate the situation. I think it’s pretty obvious which is the more sensible option for someone who isn’t in the business of enforcing the law.

Again, I know that this recommendation doesn’t sit well with many CCW permit holders. They consider themselves “sheep dogs”—alphas charged with protecting the betas. But ask yourself this: what would your death do to your family? Even if you don’t die in an armed confrontation, you’re looking at potential financial ruin. Is it worth it?

In any case, you should not do ANYTHING to escalate the situation. If the DA can prove that you made a confrontation worse, you are responsible for whatever happens next. Seriously: if you start an argument that becomes a brawl that leads to a shooting, you’re at least partially to blame. The jury might not see it that way, but the best jury is the one you never face.

At that point, I told my wife to leave the store and call 911. She did, and now that we were alone, I politely suggested to the gangbangers that they might want to seek life elsewhere. I also pointed out that the clerk was probably paid fairly poorly, and that it probably wasn’t her life’s ambition to take a load of misogynistic shit from a pair of gangbangers. Both decided that their beer bottles would make fairly good clubs, and approached me with said bottles in hand. At that point, I decided it was time to display my bling and moved my shirt tail to the side, displaying my badge.

Excellent suggestion here: tell friendlies to get thee to a nunnery (or similar place of safety). If there’s going to be a fight, gun involved or otherwise, you want to be the focus of attention. I’ve trained my kids to run away from me if bad shit goes down [not paraphrasing].

As for you, you only have a right to armed self-defense if you’re in imminent danger of death of grievous bodily harm. Imminence must be imminent. The bad guys have to be in the process of trying to kill you or take your arm off.

Two scrotes giving a cashier crap is not an example of imminent danger. The question then becomes: how did the story-teller reach the conclusion that beer bottles make “fairly good clubs”? Did they change their grip? Raise the bottles? Were the bottles empty? Did they empty them? Did they move towards the off-duty cop?

Quick aside: S.E. Hinton pointed out lo those many years ago that most experienced scum know the best way to use a bottle: smash and break the fat end and use it as a multi-blade knife. In TV and movies, people smash bottles over heads. In real life, that move usually breaks the head not the bottle.

IN short, two bad guys does not a life-threatening situation make. At the risk of stating the obvious, they have to be in the act of threatening your life to be life threatening.

Brandishing a gun is an excellent option—in some cases. It can have an immediate demotivating effect. It can also get the party started. If showing a gat creates a lull in the action, as the bad guys process information in their OODA loop, don’t just stand there, do something. Again, leaving’s good.

In any case, if a fight’s coming, get ready. Remember: speed, surprise, violence of action. Don’t get behind the curve. If you’re going to draw your gun—which is probably a very bad idea in this case given the probable distances involved—you need to do it sooner rather than later.

In any case, you need a plan. Maybe two or three. And you need them NOW.

Neither gentleman seemed all that impressed with my shield, and one suggested that he might go ahead and attempt to insert it into my anus. I wasn’t very receptive to that idea, and suggested alternative entertainment involving my Glock 21. Both gangbangers seemed shocked to be staring at my handgun (not quite sure why-the badge and firearm are kind of a matched set…), and promptly chose to un-ass the area of operations. Both were arrested 3-4 blocks away-one for DUI (yep, the dumb fuck actually DROVE away from his confrontation with an off-duty police officer), and the other for the aggravated robbery warrant he had.

A self-defense situation is not a debate. It’s not a place for witty rejoinders, catch phrases or swear words (which can be used against you in a court of law). The cop who wrote this says he writes this way for entertainment. Well do not attempt to recreate his bravado.

Expressions like “I don’t want any trouble” and “The cops are on their way” are a far better bet. If needs be, you can back them up with your gun. At the same time, remember to keep moving, however slowly. And if you have to do something, do it. All the way. Full-on. No warning shots.

Not a very sexy story, but if I had not had my firearm with me, I’m certain that things would have ended quite differently.

A gun is not a magic talisman. It’s a tool to help you escape the most dire of circumstances. A weapon of last resort. Every day I strap on my gun, I pray that I never have to use it. The same goes for any sensible person, civilian or cop. If nothing else, evolution makes it so.

 

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16 Responses to Armed Encounter: Inconvenience Store [Not Shown]

  1. Good eye. The entire story is fabricated. Note the superfluous subplots and time-suspended dialogue. Once people start lying, they can’t shut up.

  2. Why does it bother you so much that a cop wants to ensure the safety of some lone convenience store clerk? Isn’t that sort of what they do?

  3. The writer can’t be a cop. He didn’t use the F-word enough, and he left the store without any donuts.

  4. Well, that was entertaining reading. Mr. Farago, in my opinoon, is completely full of shit, and REALLY feels he’s an ‘expert’ on armed encounters.

    “Once again, reddit.com posts a first-person description of an armed encounter that lacks the ring of authenticity (Tolkein missed a trick with that one). Which doesn’t mean it isn’t true, but does mean that I’m forced to not follow my rule against using double negatives. Anyway, here’s the text, with some of my comments embedded within. “OK, no shots fired, so if that’s what you’re fishing for, disregard this post . . .”

    I don’t really feel the need to establish my bona fides to Mr. Farago, but if he was more familiar with Reddit, he might have done a search of my submission history, including my verified ‘IAMA Former Police Officer’ thread. The story is true, without embellishment. It troubles me in no way whatsoever that Mr. Farago doesn’t believe it-that’s his right, of course.

    “Having said that, I was off-duty and had gone in to a stop and rob for a pack of cigs. This was in a fairly shitty neighborhood, and in retrospect, I shouldn’t have stopped in at all, but fuck did I want some cigs.

    It’s an excellent point. As the rabbi says, avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. They don’t call an area “a bad part of the town” because it lacks a Lamborghini dealership. Well, in LA they might, but you know what I mean. It’s easy enough to eyeball a store or bar or late night K-mart and think “not worth it.” Yes, it’s a free country. You are completely free to avoid trouble and live a long(er), happy life.”

    Yes, I could have avoided this store altogether. I’d wager that the sales clerk was fairly glad I didn’t, however-and so am I, for her sake. This is the one valid point the author makes in an otherwise tripe-filled submission.

    “As for this story, I have no problem with the expression “stop and rob.” My local police use it too. But the combination of the word “retrospect” and “fuck” set off my BS detector. Cops learn early on to switch their speech from the sacrilegious (swearing) to the inane (all those codes and euphemisms). But nary the two shall meet. They’ve got swagger aplenty, but it’s situational. Have you ever read a police report? It reads nothing like this.”

    Yep, my actual police reports differ from my comments on Reddit. It’s almost as if my Reddit posts are written for entertainment, whereas police reports are for official business. The facts are the same, the presentation differs greatly. See how that works?

    “Still point taken.

    I was behind two fellas who were making it their mission in life to fuck with the middle-aged female clerk in the store. Both had carried open containers of alcohol (beers) into the store, and when the clerk confronted them, they began to decry the clearly racist policy of no open containers in the store.

    Decrying racism, eh? Don’t you hate it when that happens?”

    When it has no basis in fact, yes, I sure do. It’s unlawful for a person to consume alcohol beverages on a licensed premises if that licensed premisis doesn’t have an ‘on-premisis consumption’ license in my state. The store policy required the clerk to enforce this rule in order to maintain the businesses liquor license. There’s nothing in the state statute that says that its unlawful for brown folks to consume on a licensed premises, or Jewish folks, or folks with purple hair. Therefore, it’s race neutral.

    “Seriously folks, if you enter an environment where confrontation is occurring, leave. It’s that simple. Back out. Call 911 if you think it’s worth it. If you’ve got groceries in your hand, put them down and leave. If it’s a doctor’s office, leave. A bank? Leave. Late night parking lot? Leave. You can’t get hurt if you’re not there when the hurting starts.”

    Good advice for an armed citizen, dereliction of duty for a commissioned peace officer lawfully carrying a concealed weapon off duty, in my opinion. If it wasn’t for the cashier, I would have left. I don’t relish the thought of killing another human being, and I wouldn’t even consider it over property.

    Again, I was off-duty, not wearing a vest, and of course, not carrying a radio. Additionally, my wife was with me, and that all added up to avoiding confrontation if possible. Since being a loud, obnoxious asshole is not illegal in my state, I decided to let things ride in hopes that they would just leave. No such luck-they subsequently suggested several different sexual acts they’d like to perform on the clerk-preferably by force. The clerk seemed to be frozen in fear, and also looked like she was about to cry-and that just pissed me right the fuck off.

    “If you’re not going to leave during an escalating confrontation (it may be impossible to skee-daddle), you face a stark choice. Try and make you and yours invisible, or attempt to deescalate the situation. I think it’s pretty obvious which is the more sensible option.”

    Again, fine advice for the armed citizen, but not really applicable to an off-duty, armed police officer. HR 218 and its corresponding state statute allowing peace officers to carry concealed weapons off duty weren’t designed as an additional ‘perk’ of the profession. We recognize that peace officers occupy a unique position in our society, in which they have an obligation to enforce the law and uphold public safety on or off duty. Sheep, sheepdogs and wolves, Mr. Farago. I’ve made my choice, and so have you, apparently.

    “By the same token, you should not do ANYTHING to escalate the situation. If the DA can prove that you made a confrontation worse, you are responsible for whatever happens next. Seriously: if you start an argument that becomes a brawl that leads to a shooting, you’re at least partially to blame. The jury might not see it that way, but the best jury is the one you never face.”

    True. If I’d engaged in a pissing match with these two shitbags, that would have likely gotten me fired AND sued. Instead, I pointed out that the clerk was a working person just trying to do her job, and suggested that the shitheads leave her alone. Provocative, yes? Often, just letting shitbags know someone is watching and they won’t be able to have their fun undisturbed is enough to convince them to leave. Cockroaches hate the light, you know.

    “At that point, I told my wife to leave the store and call 911. She did, and now that we were alone, I politely suggested to the gangbangers that they might want to seek life elsewhere. I also pointed out that the clerk was probably paid fairly poorly, and that it probably wasn’t her life’s ambition to take a load of misogynistic shit from a pair of gangbangers. Both decided that their beer bottles would make fairly good clubs, and approached me with said bottles in hand. At that point, I decided it was time to display my bling and moved my shirt tail to the side, displaying my badge.

    Excellent suggestion here: tell friendlies to get thee to a nunnery (or similar place of safety). If there’s going to be a fight, gun involved or otherwise, you want to be the focus of attention. I’ve trained my kids to run away from me if bad shit goes down [not paraphrasing]. Still . . .

    Why didn’t BOTH of them leave the store and call 911?”

    Goddamned right I told my wife to leave the store, call 911, and provide the dispatcher with my badge number, physical description, and notification that I was armed. You see, only one of us swore an oath of public office, so only one of us had a moral obligation to take part in the coming confrontation. In fact, my wife knew trouble was coming because I’d called her by her middle name-our code for ‘I have to do some police work now-find cover and call 911’. We had game planned this scenario many times, because my first obligation is to ensure her safety, regardless of my profession. So much for my lack of planning, eh?

    “You only have a right to armed self-defense if you’re in imminent danger of death of grievous bodily harm. Imminence must be imminent. The bad guys have to be in the process of trying to kill you or take your arm off.

    Two scrotes giving a cashier crap is not an example of imminent danger. The question becomes: how did the story-teller reach the conclusion that beer bottles make “fairly good clubs”? Did they change their grip? Raise the bottles? Were the bottles empty? Did they empty them? Did they move towards the off-duty cop?”

    No, two scrotes giving a cashier a hard time in a convenience store doesn’t justify the use of deadly force. It does, however, constitute criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, menacing, and public intoxication-all violations of the law which a peace officer is sworn to uphold. On the other hand, two fairly large males approaching an apparently unarmed male with blunt objects while making threats looks like a situation for deadly force to me…

    “Quick aside: S.E. Hinton pointed out lo those many years ago that most experienced scum know the best way to use a bottle: smash and break the fat end and use it as a multi-blade knife. In TV and movies, people smash bottles over heads. In real life, that move usually breaks the head not the bottle.

    Flashing a badge? Really? If the confrontation was getting to the point of club-wielding, I don’t think a cop would take the time to show his badge and, what, assume that the bad guys would cower before the power of the state? Maybe so, though. I have heard people say and do stupid things under pressure.”

    Let me shed some light on this. As far as the two miscreants were concerned, I was, to this point, Joe Blow Chubby White Guy who was ruining their good time. Joe Blow has no legal authority to compel them to leave, and is afforded no special protections under the law. However, if they know Joe Blow is a commissioned peace officer acting in furtherance of his duties, and if Joe Blow has identified himself as such by displaying his badge of official office, they are now committing assault on a peace officer, obstructing a peace officer, and depending on the circumstances, resisting arrest by taking the matter further.

    Additionally, my state has a governmental immunity statute, and by identifying myself as a peace officer, I would have been able to claim that immunity later. Getting sued, as Mr. Farago points out, sucks. See, peace officers enforce the law, and are required to have a level of familiarity with it that Mr. Farago clearly lacks.

    “Brandishing a gun is an excellent option—in some cases. It can have an immediate demotivating effect. It can also get the party started. If showing a gat creates a lull in the action, as the bad guys process information in their OODA loop, don’t just stand there, do something. Again, leaving’s good.”

    You mean, fuck with their OODA loop by flipping the script? Perhaps by, say, letting the two shitbags know that they’re confronting a police officer, not a nosy citizen who they might be able to intimidate? Leaving might be good for an armed citizen, but I wasn’t going to stand by while these two bags of skin had their way with the cashier-remember, they’d made statements about sexually assaulting her, and at that point, she had become one of my sheep-and no one fucks with my sheep.

    As far as brandishing, when the firearm left the holster, I was done brandishing-I had selected the point on the sternum where miscreant #1 was going to be shot. Firearms aren’t warning devices, they’re instruments of deadly force.

    “In any case, if a fight’s coming, get ready. Remember: speed, surprise, violence of action. Don’t get behind the curve. If you’re going to draw your gun—which is probably a very bad idea in this case given the probable distances involved—you need to do it sooner rather than later. You need a plan. Maybe two or three. And you need them NOW.”

    I agree. Which is why I had moved to an area of the front of the store which provided some limited concealment, and had increased my distance from the turds in question. I had also positioned myself so that if I were forced to use my weapon, I wasn’t using the cashier of the front windows of the store as a backstop. Don’t forget, my wife is still on the phone with dispatch, and the cavalry is on the way-that kind of indicates there was some planning afoot, yes?

    “Neither gentleman seemed all that impressed with my shield, and one suggested that he might go ahead and attempt to insert it into my anus. I wasn’t very receptive to that idea, and suggested alternative entertainment involving my Glock 21. Both gangbangers seemed shocked to be staring at my handgun (not quite sure why-the badge and firearm are kind of a matched set…), and promptly chose to un-ass the area of operations. Both were arrested 3-4 blocks away-one for DUI (yep, the dumb fuck actually DROVE away from his confrontation with an off-duty police officer), and the other for the aggravated robbery warrant he had.

    The flowery language (e.g. “anus”) and sarcasm sounds all kinds of wrong. Armed encounters are—or should be—deeply frightening experiences.”

    The first one likely is-mine was. But as a professional peace officer, one gets a bit of ‘crisis fatigue’, and they’re no longer always the terrifying stuff of urine-soaked boxers Mr. Farago suggests. Constant training and ‘when-then’ thinking help, too. Competence and confidence cancels panic. I’ve had the good luck of receiving some quality firearms training, including force-on-force training, and I’m pretty confident in my abilities. I’d prepared with my wife for an armed encounter off-duty, and I was seeking to improve my tactical situation throughout this confrontation.

    “The Mickey Spillane-esque bravado on display here is exactly the sort of ‘tude that gun grabbers ascribe to concealed carriers. You’re FAR more likely to find in the movies or books rather than on the street.”

    Again-Reddit is for fun. I wrote this in a manner so as to entertain the reader, not to inform a DA or jury. Sheesh, the internet is sure serious business to Mr. Farago, isn’t it?

    “Not a very sexy story, but if I had not had my firearm with me, I’m certain that things would have ended quite differently.

    A gun is not a magic talisman. It’s a tool to help you escape the most dire of circumstances.”

    No shit, Mr. Farago.

    “A weapon of last resort. Every day I strap on my gun, I pray that I never have to use it. The same goes for any sensible person, civilian or cop. If nothing else, evolution makes it so.”

    I don’t ‘pray’ for anything. I train. I go to the range. I practice ‘when-then’ thinking. I maintain my equipment. I go through my day with situational awareness. While I’m not a police officer anymore, I am a sheepdog by breeding and by training-and by intention. I hope I never have to use deadly force-but I don’t cower from the prospect, either. Some things are worth dying or killing for. Some things are worth sacrificing a sense of safety for-like my family, my community, or the safety of a frightened female cashier alone in the dark at 2:00 in the morning. Apparently, Mr. Farago disagrees-and that’s fine. The sheep are grazing over there, sir-why don’t you join them?

    I’ll be on the hill watching for the wolf-because that’s who I am.

    You’re welcome.

    • Take a deep breath. Now take another.

      Ok, I think we can both agree that while some stories that find their way to the internet are true, most are at least embellished, and some or completely fabricated. Neither I nor Mr Farago was there, as neither of us are you, your wife, the cashier, or the two scumbags. So, as readers we have to judge by what is before us if it seems plausible or not. The same as you, if you are truly a police officer (and I am not saying or even inferring otherwise), have to judge many times a shift if what you are being fed has all, some, or no truth included in it. Most often I bet you get little to no truth because let’s face it you typically don’t deal with honest people in your line of work, but I would also bet that you even though you used your best discretion you have been wrong a time or to and called an honest story BS.

      Now, I must say, I agreed with Mr. Farago’s analysis of the story. As one of the early commenters pointed out, it read an awful lot like a penthouse letters story and we all know how truthful those are.

      I think if you could pretend someone else wrote it, and read it from that viewpoint even you would wonder if it was truthful or not. It just came across that way.

      Coming here with proverbial guns ablaizing as you did was probably not the best approach. While your addition information has made the original story more believable, you have to understand that we don’t even know for sure that you are the author; all we really have is your word. If you really want to make someone look bad (as was clearly your goal for Mr Farago with this post) I have found that the scorched earth insult flinging tactic is less successful than simply setting the record straight and allowing the readers to jump to the conclusion that the other guy is wrong. It stings a lot more, I promise. And better, you don’t have to debase yourself in the process.

      • Thanks for the D, but regardless of the veracity of the post, I made a big mistake: conflating a civilian’s eye view with an LEO’s perspective. Hit refresh and you’ll see that I’ve clarified that error. In that sense, I don’t think the “truth” of the author’s experience is important. His post gave us a chance to learn something about self-defense. Peace out!

  5. OK, well, it looks like I screwed the pooch here. I’m going to re-write this post. I’ll put up a link or pdf to the original version when I’m done. I apologize to the author for getting it wrong.

    At the same time, I remind readers that TTAG has an anti-flaming policy. Attack the post, not the poster.

  6. I would take exception to the notion that “Expressions like “I don’t want any trouble” and “The cops are on their way” are a far better bet. ”

    If people are already in an aggravated state – ie, they show no signs of deescalation – saying “I don’t want any trouble” is a verbal cue for “I’m acknowledging you have the upper hand, and will surrender rather than fight”.

    It’s very true that you should avoid saying anything that would escalate the situation, but it is very rare in the urban jungle that “I don’t want any trouble” will do that. From having grown up in that unpleasant environment, the only thing you can do is show that you’re not looking for a fight, but if they are, you have absolutely no intentions of backing down.

    Maybe “We can stop it here and be cool. If you want to risk being shot, I will oblige.”?

    Only if someone thinks they have something to really lose will they ‘reconsider’ in the midst of a heated emotional confrontation. Well-off suburbanite with kids and a wife, maybe. A person who’s life isn’t the greatest at best? Most likely not.

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