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A cop comes across a crime in progress and sees someone with a gun. The cop immediately assumes the guy with the gun is a Bad Guy. He yells at the ‘perp’ to drop the weapon and when the ‘perp’ turns towards him (possibly to show his badge, or tell him ‘I’m on the job’!) he has to assume he’s about to take fire and shoots. Then, tragically, he finds out that the ‘perp’ in this situation was an off-duty law enforcement officer. This is the sort of story the antis really don’t like to talk about: “A retired Nassau County cop fired the shot that killed an off-duty ATF agent [John Capano, above] who was trying to stop a pill-popping ex-con from robbing a Long Island pharmacy.” To be honest, I don’t like talking about it either. But unlike the antis my reluctance stems from compassion for everyone involved, not from underlying guilt. Yes I said guilt . . .

Regardless of whether they admit it or not, the antis ultimate goal is that only cops and the military be armed. In some cities their goal is within reach. In D.C., or New York City, or San Francisco or Chicago, most cops (not unreasonably) assume that anyone they see with a gun out is a BG which can lead to an unacknowledged but very real and deadly side effect of strict gun laws; cops shooting other cops, believing they are perps.

Fortunately such incidents are still vanishingly rare, but if the antis manage to swing the civil rights pendulum back in their preferred direction I fear that we will start seeing more of these tragedies.

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  1. Sucks for the guy who got shot (did he die?), but then again, he did choose to be a cop knowing full well the type of people his fellow officers are. Of course this will be used as a reason for why the peasants shouldn’t have guns, not for why police should actually ask questions before shooting everyone in sight.

      • Seeing how he was paid to promote such policies (never questioning police actions, police can shoot first and ask questions later with no consequences, etc), yes – yes he did. If you want to work for the devil, you deserve any negative consequences that fall on you.

        It also raises the question of how many innocent people the off duty cop had killed without bothering to find out what was actually going on.

    • I hereby nominate the above for the dumbest fucking post of 2012 on TTAG. Even with 363 days to go (and it’s a leap year), I’m confident we have a winner.

      • Sorry that I don’t bow to your “kill without bothering to find out if you’re killing the bad guy or the good guy” police overlords. Perhaps when it’s someone you like that they kill for no reason, you might not find their tactics so amusing.

        • No, you said that it is ok for someone to get killed because he works for a law enforcement agency. Is your other name Ice-T?

  2. I read the story this morning and it’s very sad for all involved. The same thing happened in Providence several years ago when an off duty cop was shot and killed by two fellow officers who saw him holding a gun on the perp.

    • Tragic result of attempt to be a hero: If you are a CCW carrier do not fall for that urge! ATF itself has a slight bad habit of shooting with inadequate facts, no? Lon who? Though I haven’t an evening to research it, it does not seem “vanishingly rare” for an LEO to accidentally shoot another. The three main causes seem to be these: Uniforms show up and don’t know the guy with a gun out is a plainclothes. Cross fire in a raid or multi-unit response. Unintentional discharge, negligent discharge. More cops-killed-by-cops have occurred on the East Coast in the last six months than duty fatalities in my township of 57,000 people in the last 100 years. Depends on the neighborhood, I suppose. We need clearer better-publicized standards of response: What do you say to the suspected perp? How does the plainclothes hold his firearm when others approach? Should the badge or ID card be ready for exterior clip-on if an off-duty is going to carry? Etc. Aside from this case, how many of you remember the climax of LA Confidential?

  3. It was the second cop-on-cop killing on Long Island in a couple of months.

    So now we have a dead fed, killed by a cop, and a drug-addicted schmuck with a pellet gun who is also pushing up daisies. And who shot the robber?

    This case is completely f^cked up.

  4. This actually happens in the military more than most would care to admit. Seems the Cops have their share as well.

  5. Question: the one who killed the ATF agent was a retired cop. I can understand why he was entitled to carry, but what gave him the right to get involved in the whole mess in the first place? The off-duty cop who ended up killing the BG, I can understand. But if a civilian had killed the ATF agent, it would be at least a manslaughter rap. Does having once been a cop confer a lifetime right to use lethal force in the enlightened state of NY, even when your life is not endangered?

    • Laws differ by state. In nc you can act with deadly force on behalf of someone. Wether You should or shouldn’t is a problem you could write a book on. I say call 911 but don’t insert yourself needlessly in danger.

  6. I’m curious as to how the ex-cop that shot him was retired at 54 – what is this, Greece? I know public servants can retire early these days in a lot of places, but 54?

        • Chicago Police’s contract is supposed to be that way. Imaging being able to retire before your 40! You get to work a second job you got by looking the other way too! Aint being a pig great?

          • A lot of plans used to be this way in the 70s and 80s, but most of them have been phasing out over time. In Washington State, the original plan was thirty years and out. So if you joined straight out of college, say at 23, you could retire at 53, with 60% of your salary. That was too good a deal, of course, so that was phased out, so it became a set retirement age of 65 after that, and I think now it’s on its third version, with further tweaks.

      • I know many states still allow teachers to retire with full pensions after 30 years – so if you graduate college at 21 and get working right away, you’re retired at 51 and can spend almost half your life retired.

  7. Very tragic, but these are the things that happen when you demonize firearms. I suspect the retired LEO saw a gun and just shot, thinking the whole time “I’m the only one” who should be armed.

    • Yep. And everybody knows the case out west in which the cop showed up at a gun-fight, saw four scruffy guys shooting men in business suits, helped shoot up the scruffy guys….then found out they were federal undercovers in a shoot out with elegantly suited gangsters. If that’s not a lesson….

  8. Charlie foxtrot, all the way, and very sad, but I think the critical fact is that the whole disaster started after the BG was RUNNING AWAY. It is not the job of an off-duty ATF agent to apprehend an “armed” drug addict. Nor is it the job of a retired cop to involve himself in this sort of situation in any way whatsoever. While defending another person is legit, at the point the assailant is fleeing, it’s not defense. As for the ATF agent shouting that he’s a good guy, it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to hear that in a high adrenaline situation, it all tends to turn into noise. There’s a reason street cops wear uniforms, aside from making them look scary. This was the result of a series of horrible decisions.

    • A friend of mine who works for an airsoft distributor had a chance to participate in a training scenario as a under cover officer in a bank robbery. If his experience is any indication, he was probably taking fire as he was yelling he was a LEO.

  9. Novel thought: disarm the cops. Hell, we’ve got another attempt down here in GA at stopping chases, after a dumbA$$ state trooper ran into a high-status person’s car, killing his wife.

    What the hell good are cops anyway? Do they need a gun to come interview you after the robbery? We all know they aren’t in the least about ‘to protect and serve’ – and I’m not trying to disparage individuals. the whole damn scene is just a farce – they don’t protect, they don’t serve (except for after hours, when they direct traffic for some nightclub or other event). We don’t need armed court stenographers.

    And hey – there’d be a lot less killings round these parts – no drunk 23-year old deputies getting stupid at the bar. Next we need to take the patrol cars away – give’m an old corolla – it get s there just as fast as any cop around here… and lots cheaper.

    BTW, you do have your own gun, right? When seconds count…you fill it in.

    • Horrors! Disarmed police might have to treat us as fellow citizens instead of cattle! What’s next? Lower taxes and an end to pointless wars in the Middle East? Heresy!

    • Police Have No Duty To Protect Individuals
      Because the police have no general duty to protect individuals, judicial remedies are not available for their failure to protect. In other words, if someone is injured because they expected but did not receive police protection, they cannot recover damages by suing (except in very special cases, explained below). Despite a long history of such failed attempts, however, many, people persist in believing the police are obligated to protect them, attempt to recover when no protection was forthcoming, and are emotionally demoralized when the recovery fails. Legal annals abound with such cases.
      Warren v. District of Columbia is one of the leading cases of this type. Two women were upstairs in a townhouse when they heard their roommate, a third woman, being attacked downstairs by intruders. They phoned the police several times and were assured that officers were on the way. After about 30 minutes, when their roommate’s screams had stopped, they assumed the police had finally arrived. When the two women went downstairs they saw that in fact the police never came, but the intruders were still there. As the Warren court graphically states in the opinion: “For the next fourteen hours the women were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands of their attackers.”
      The three women sued the District of Columbia for failing to protect them, but D.C.’s highest court exonerated the District and its police, saying that it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen. “There are many similar cases with results to the same effect.

  10. “Yes I said guilt . . .

    Regardless of whether they admit it or not, the antis ultimate goal is that only cops and the military be armed.”

    Sorry for getting to the party so late on this one, but all I can say is you’re delusional if you really believe that.

    I love stories like that one. That’s because I consider cop gun owners in the same category as civilian gun owners, that is largely unqualified. Both groups need better screening and more training.

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