From TTAG reader Hasdrubal:
After the often poorly regarded NYPD shooting of a murder suspect at the Empire State Building—in which nine innocent bystanders were wounded—it is refreshing to see another incident with the NYPD where the officer involved seems to have done nearly everything right. Of course not all the details are available. And even a few items in two separate NY Post articles (here and here) conflict slightly, the main story and the video supporting it are fairly clear . . .
Ivan Marcano [above], off duty and riding in a car with his girlfriend, witnessed a mugging in progress in the Bronx. He reportedly jumped out, identified himself as a police officer, and was shot in the chest for his trouble.
Depending on which story you read, Marcano then got back in the car and either pursued the suspects, who were fleeing in a Mustang, or started going to the hospital with his girlfriend driving.
The wisdom of pursuing an armed suspect while wounded, with no body armor, no radio, and only whatever ammunition you normally carry off duty can be debated, but Marcano was able to re-engage them some distance from the scene. Marcano is apparently one of those who believes you’re not out of the fight just because you’ve been hit.
Here’s where the video begins . . .
The suspects in the white Mustang can be seen striking a black cab, and Marcano can be seen jumping out of his Infiniti. Marcano then advances, moving laterally to take cover behind a parked car, the cab, and then another car parked on the other side of the street. The cab driver gets out and then quickly gets down, possibly because of reports that Marcano was yelling at everyone to do exactly that.
With no sound, we can’t be sure when exactly Marcano fires, but we do know that he was holding his off hand to his chest, applying pressure to his wound. We also know he struck one of the suspects in the head, and despite no published information on how many shots hit compared to how many were fired, there are no reports of anyone else being struck by a bullet, shrapnel, or anything else.
So, we have quite a few good things to consider here, and only one or two possibly bad that I can see. Looking at those first, and this can be debated, why identify yourself as police, or call attention to yourself in any way if you witness a lethal threat scenario?
Strictly speaking, police are not allowed to use force that much differently from non-uniformed citizens. In practice due to unions, prosecutors, and questionable tradition, it may not always work that way, but in many places you are not required to give a warning before using lethal force to defend yourself or others. Yelling at a threat is asking for trouble, and sometimes you get more than you bargained for.
Uniform or no, verbal commands are for those seconds or minutes before the threat becomes lethal.
As Marcano saw someone being pistol-whipped, he had a judgment call to make. Had he made it the other way and shot without warning, he would have likely faced complaints by the public but no legal action. And he would likely not have had a bullet pass very near to his heart.
That being said, if faced with the same situation, unless the suspect’s weapon was being pointed at the victim, I like to think I would have done it the same way as Marcano.
Second, if the story that claims Marcano and his girlfriend were pursuing the suspect vehicle is true, rather than the other story which says they happened to be on the same road on the way to the hospital, then it can be debated if he should have placed the girlfriend in that situation.
Some people on this site have made comments about how police signed up for whatever danger we face on the job, and that’s true. Our families did not sign up for the same danger. Still, we don’t know exactly what the case was here.
And the good things? Marcano refused to give up. That’s the biggest thing you can take away from this, and it’s not just limited to police.
The mindset to stay in the fight, to not yield to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, is something that can’t be bought at any price (while hunger wasn’t mentioned in the article, I couldn’t resist. Some of you will understand).
Also, the lateral movement to cover and telling bystanders to get down shows real thinking and not just the red mist of target fixation. One-handed shooting under stress isn’t easy even for those that train for it regularly, and the lack of any reported bystanders hit shows (hopefully) that he had a decently clear backstop when he fired.
Admittedly we can’t be certain of that last point, but there’s certainly nothing yet to show otherwise.
After the shots were fired and the remaining suspect had escaped, Marcano walked to a nearby ambulance, which happened to be parked nearby, and got him the rest of the way to the hospital.
My biggest complaint about the whole thing: Mayor Bloomberg’s comments. “Just think — people trying to protect us, [this] police officer wants to go home, puts his life on the line and God was just with him this time,” the mayor said. “The next time God might not be there.”
Whether you believe in God or not, sometimes what matters is whether you believe in yourself. Ivan Marcano is an example of what men can achieve when they do. If he finds himself in harm’s way again and God or Mayor Bloomberg happen to be distracted, my money’s on him doing just fine.