New York “Cop-Killer” Bullet Correction and Amplification

We posted a piece Saturday on the ominous re-appearance of (cue scary music) “cop-killer” bullets in New York. It will probably come as an Earth-shattering, illusion-destroying revelation, but you need to hear the truth from someone, so here it is – sometimes reporters make mistakes. And the author of the New York Post article RF referred to, Kristan Conley, misquoted firearms instructor Kenneth Cooper. Well, that’s what he tells us, anyway. So we invited him to set the record straight. We hope Ken isn’t holding his breath until he gets the same treatment from the Post . . .

I am a New York State Certified Instructor, and have been since 1995. I have been certified by:

  • Smith and Wesson Academy, Use of Force Instructor
  • Sig Arms Academy, Armorer
  • NRA Law Enforcement Activities Division, Firearms Instructor
  • NRA Civilian Instructor, all aspects
  • Asp Baton
  • Sure Fire Low Light Instructor
  • TASER Instructor
  • Force Science Institute – Human Stress Response
  • I am a charter member of ILEETA – International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, and IALEFI – International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.
  • I authored the Ulster County Handgun Safety Course, have testified in United State District Court, Eastern Division
  • New York State Supreme Court, Brooklyn Supreme Court, Vermont Supreme Court, and the High Court in Hong Kong as an expert in firearms, police procedures and tactics, TASER use, Ballistics –  (internal  external, and terminal), and aspects of the human stress response in a lethal force encounter.

I am a Criminal Justice adjunct instructor at the State University of New York, Ulster Campus, and am the Senior Instructor and founder of THT of New York (Tactical Handgun Training), a private firearms and security training academy since 1983, Incorporated in 1990. I have trained over 6000 people in firearms safety, handling and tactics and Use of Force law.  

In 2000, I was one of four experts who worked pro bono for the Sean Carrol defense team headed by Phil Messina in the Amadou Diallo trial In Albany.

In 1999, when Mr. Diallo was shot, NYPD use hardball 9mm rounds for duty. James Fyfe, NYPD consultant, felt that ball ammunition would function more reliability in the new semi auto handguns – prior to this, NYPD use .38 caliber wheel guns.

I presented to the ASLET Conference in Miami (American Society for Law Enforcement Trainers) after the trial on the use of hardball ammunition by the New York City Police. It was and is my opinion that, should a reliable controlled expansion round have been authorized for the officers, Mr. Diallo would not have been shot 19 times. Sixteen of the hits passed through Mr. Diallo’s body with little effect. The energy dump from those rounds was transmitted through doors and walls. Only three rounds had effect, and only 1 round, which nicked his aorta, caused his death.

Ten days after the incident, NYPD went to Federal Gold Dot. NYPD had already been concerned with over penetration and ricochet hazard. Controlled expansion rounds would have had a more profound effect on Amadou Diallo, reducing the number of rounds fired.

The uninitiated public – and Bruce Springsteen – measure the appropriateness of force by numbers of rounds fired. We know that, once deadly force is deemed necessary, we fire until the action stops. Cops are trained stoppers, not killers. This is how we train armed civilians. The goal is NOT to kill. The use of the primitive tool – a handgun- is used to stop a suspect from his/her deadly actions, not to end that suspect’s life. The state wants that honor. Mr. Diallo did not stop moving as the rounds passed through his body with little effect – the officers fired until the movement stopped.

I have been interviewed by phone many times since. I have had relative luck with most of the reporters. Their main malfunction is ignorance of the issue. Some also have agendas that are overtly anti-gun or anti-cop.

It seems I was unlucky to be contacted by a reporter who seemed to exhibit at least some these qualities. In discussing what the reporter called “hollow points” she felt “hollow points” were illegal in New York, and that “hollow points” are “cop killer” bullets.

Controlled expansion rounds are not illegal in New York State, which I explained to her. Armed civilians and police routinely carry this bullet design, which decreases over-penetration problems, is more effective in stopping the deadly actions of the perpetrator and cannot penetrate bullet resistant vests.

This issue was debunked over a decade ago. It sounds exciting to those who have no knowledge or understanding of firearms use for self defense and no understanding of terminal ballistics. Rounds that expand have a decreased penetration. An expanding round hitting a bullet resistant vest has less ability to penetrate that vest. No handgun round has ever killed a cop by penetrating a vest.  

I explained this to the reporter, telling her that “knuckleheads/badguys” do not usually have the ability or desire to purchase legal and proper rounds (frangible/controlled expansion) and could care less about the collateral damage caused by over penetration from rounds we all use for training and practice. They use “bargain basement” rounds.

I am in the middle of an Albany trial. This outrageous article has caused me great concern and has been detrimental to a reputation I have worked hard to keep appropriate and excellent for 30 years.