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“Minneapolis Police are real champions for backing down from violent threats made against them,” YouTube commentator carl nordstrom51 writes underneath his Live Leak video upload. “Excellence in cowardice!” carl adds. I disagree.

First of all, this incident went down in Brooklyn, New York not Minneapolis. Second, I reckon the responding officer showed tremendous courage. He leaped out of his car and ran to apprehend the perp. Out of a burning car. At a gas station. A perp who’d fatally stabbed his wife and injured his daughter.

Nor do I consider the officer a coward for backing away as the perp attacked. Unless you’re going hands-on, why wouldn’t you put some distance between yourself and a deadly threat? That said, the officer did made a strategic mistake: he failed to shoot or get physical with the bad guy when he had the chance.

As my second ex-wife pointed out — after we watched a car slow down and get T-boned by a red light runner — hesitation kills. The cop had a VERY small window of time to act decisively and aggressively, to strike the perp or pull the trigger. Once that moment was gone, it was gone. He lost the opportunity to take the initiative and could well have lost his life.

At some point in an attack, it’s go time. Time to stop cooperating, cowering and/or running away. Time to start acting. Violently. Because a defensive gun use is not a defense per se. It’s a counter-attack. Unless you’re ready, willing and able to mount a pedal-to-the-metal counter-attack when you face a threat of grievous bodily harm or death, your odds of surviving a violent assault are not all that wonderful.

It’s best to have a “trip wire.” Mental and physical preparation is the key.

You need to be mentally prepared to shoot, kick, bite, punch, stab, head butt, do anything to survive. Ralph may disagree, but I believe you need to reconcile yourself to the possibility that you may suffer serious injury or death. Your ballistic response may end one ordeal even as it starts another even longer and more painful one. You may kill the wrong person, or fail to kill the right person.

Was that what stopped the NYPD officer from firing? Fear of failure?

Don’t let it stop you. Commit yourself to doing your best to protect yourself and other innocent life — come what may. And, of course, accept the possibility that you may have to take a human life. Or two. Or more.

At the same time, move. TTAG’s resident war hero Jon Wayne Taylor is a firm believer in training yourself to move — instinctively — when you draw your gun. A subconscious reaction that makes you harder to kill and signals your brain that this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling’ around.

There’s no point calling someone who reacts to violence by retreating or becoming submissive a “coward.” That’s straight-up blaming the victim. But there is a point in not being “that guy.” Counter-attack and your chances of survival increase astronomically. So be prepared to get seriously nasty. Your attacker(s) deserve nothing less.

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  1. You are not a cop or a soldier. Attack is your last legal option even in a stand your ground state. Unless you have no other option or you are in an active shooter situation and can make a difference the soundest decision you can make is to withdraw from the situation .

    • That sounds like you have a huge problem from/with people that ain’t even there, and bad guys bank on that sh_t. Don’t just hope to be able to one day ‘fix’ your perp problem. Start Fing NOW with the people who are going to F with you after.

      • Well Joe, my 30 years of IC experience taught me “don’t get noticed, run away if you are and force is used only when you are out of all other options. That is good advice for an armed citizen. But, you go ahead a listen to Internet experts.

      • td is correct IMO. The defender’s best option is to GTFO whenever it’s possible to do so safely. Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t possible. That’s when the defender must fight or die, or maybe even both.

        When and if the time comes, you will make the right choice if you keep your wits about you. If you don’t keep your wits about you, well, I never heard anyone say, “I panicked, and that made everything better.”

  2. My wife had drug deliveries to do in Mpls (near the University even) last night. I went with her to monitor the protest locations on my phone and make sure she didn’t get dangerously close to any of them. I think I am much more likely to think “this is too dangerous” and back off a delivery than she is. I did take three mags and my suppressor with me though too.

      • APM, when you write “My wife had drug deliveries to do,” I think you should be a liiiiiiiiittle more clear about what you meant. 🙂

        • I get it. I work with pharmacys and do drug deliveries as well.

          Its a dicey job. i’ve been sent to locations where I’ve had to get very close to brandishing as I had way to many ‘questionable types’ in my immediate location.

          People say that cops have an ugly job, and they do, but armed civilians that delivery schedule 3 medications to homes don’t have a real pleasant series of options either. Its like driving around with cash, to homes that are often in depressed areas where the bad guy knows your coming and you are likely alone and unprotected.

          I don’t think I could do this job in a major city, they just don’t pay enough.

  3. “Ralph may disagree, but I believe you need to reconcile yourself to the possibility that you may suffer serious injury or death.”

    I don’t disagree in the least. In fact, that’s a feature, not a bug. Someone who gets into a fight without understanding the possible consequences is in for a big surprise.

    Fear can cause men to lock up, run in the wrong direction or fight like girls. But once a defender knows the possibility of his own death and accepts it, fear disappears and he can focus on and perform the task at hand — stopping the bad guy’s attack by any means necessary.

  4. First, before establishing critiquing / quarterbacking how the officer handled the situation, can be it be made clear how much did the officer know of the facts and situation at the time of the video?

    Was he witness to the stabbing prior to the stop? For all he knew, the wife and daughter were stabbed by someone else and this guy was trying to drive them to a hospital and crashed due to loss of blood / impairment.

    If the “perp” had no weapon in his hands, the officer should have given verbal commands and once it was obvious the guy was hysterical / non-compliant, he should’ve restrained him. Next step is to immediately get anyone else out of the burning car, and then figure out what the hell is going on.

    If the officer knew the guy stabbed his family and this was the culmination of a chase, then it would still be a bad shoot if the guy didn’t have a weapon in his hand when he emerged from the car. However, if the guy advanced with his hands hidden in a pocket, behind his back, or if he had something in his hand that closely resembled a blade or weapon, then it would likely be a reasonable shoot.

    The only recommendation I would have is don’t just run up on a car in the first place (particularly if you know this was someone that just committed a crime).

    I would have walked up slowly yelling “Are you OK”, “Come out with your hands up”, “Is anyone hurt?”, etc.

  5. I believe that training to move as you draw is a LOT more valuable than people realize. Our brains tend to lock into one activity at a time. If you allow your brain to lock into drawing, your brain is no longer trying to ascertain anything else, such as if additional attackers are closing in on you, if your single attacker is transitioning from a brick to a firearm, if bystanders are directly behind your attacker, or whether cover is within reach.

    I believe, when you start moving as you draw, that additional activity (moving) snaps your brain out of “locked into doing X” mode and helps it to process other tasks.

    I can tell you this much: when I recently set up and went through a “shoot, no-shoot” course for the first time ever, I was amazed at how much additional processing my brain was able to do as I moved in conjunction with drawing and shooting. I was able to pick out the best shooting lanes and angles — including picking lanes and shooting angles to avoid putting bullets into simulated bystanders — while still putting accurate shots on the simulated attackers. Watching the video of that activity after the event made it very clear.

  6. “Was that what stopped the NYPD officer from firing? Fear of failure?”

    No, fear that he will be prosecuted for firing his gun by the the same people that sign his paycheck. (Ferguson, et al.)

    That is the true Obama administration legacy…

    • The man didn’t have a weapon in his hands. The cop killing him because he was scared would have been murder.

      The cop had backup 5 seconds away. So he knows he isn’t in a situation where he has to shoot to survive, he just has to make sure to retain his gun.

      He made tactical errors. I don’t consider not shooting that suspect a mistake, more like he did his job risking his well being for the sake of justice being done through the court system. Now, hopefully he watches the video and learns from his mistakes so he won’t be put in that predicament again.

      • “The man didn’t have a weapon in his hands.”


        Hands-feet are plenty lethal, and him launching himself at the cop like an NFL linebacker is justification…

        • I’m pretty sure being unarmed is not ‘irrelevant’ to use of force justification.

          Yes, someone can be a deadly threat with their hands and feet. But if you think the police can shoot an unarmed person for attacking them without some severe exigent circumstances, I’d say you’re mistaken. Keep in mind, even with those exigent circumstances (i.e. Darren Wilson\Michael Brown) the officer may not be imprisoned but may lose his career and have to move himself and his family to an undisclosed location due to people threatening to kill him.

  7. Hey Robert, look again. That car is not NYPD. Maybe Nassau Co., but certainly not Brooklyn. Isn’t there a Brooklyn, Mn. outside of Minneapolis?

  8. Look at the bad guy. First off he’s huge, but let’s pretend for the moment that that’s unimportant; he bounds out of the car with his hands up. He’s advancing on the cop- quickly- but his hands are up.

    I’m going to guess he was also loudly saying “I surrender!!” the whole time he was bulldozing this officer, adding to the confusion of the entire situation with the chase, the crash, and the fire.

    I sure as shit can’t criticize that nanosecond of hesitatition from here.

    I can, however, criticize the fire suppression system that didn’t.

  9. Rule 1. As a civilian, avoid putting yourself in the position to begin with and definitely don’t start ‘it’. However, if that is not possible…..

    Rule 2. “Fight back ! Whenever you are offered violence, fight back ! The aggressor does not fear the law, so he must be taught to fear you. Whatever the risk, and at whatever the cost, fight back !”…… Lt. Col. John Dean ‘Jeff’ Cooper…… Principles Of Personal Defense ©1993, Paladin Press.

  10. It seems to me the cops first duty is to attempt to seize the law-breaker. Without judging the cop from a video, his choice seemed sensible. The perp was seized and the retreating cop was relatively uninjured.

    I’m largely withdrawing from RE law activity and equity trust counseling. I’d like to brush up on Fed and PA criminal law and procedure. Though I’ve long picked up the Geo LJ annual crim pro issue, I’m open to suggestions of a “best” practical guide to Fed criminal practice. Suggestions welcome.

  11. Just watching that short video, I don’t believe the cop could have shot the man, and obviously the cop didn’t either. He was unarmed and had his hands up, but was advancing on the cop. The cop had his weapon in his hand, so it’s possible it can be taken away from him. For me, I would not have parked where he did, nor gotten that close to the car.

    But, I didn’t know there were 2 other units right behind him, what the actual known information on the situation was, and what happened during the pursuit, so I’m sure that figured into his thinking about how to deal with the situation.

    All in all, a really crappy situation that ended in the best possible way: dude goes to jail for his day in court, innocents aren’t hurt, and cops aren’t hurt too bad.

  12. Perhaps this article should be renamed, “If someone charges at you, should you shoot?” or “Self Defense Tip: Assess the situation and respond fast and appropriately”

  13. I’m going to add a caveat to this article.

    You need to be careful about counter attacking and you need to know the laws in your state and what sort of force is justified in what circumstances… we just covered a bunch of this at the gym. You can be attacked in ways that you can’t get to your gun and in H2H your actions can be difficult to justify, especially if you’re better trained than your assailant.

    For example, we steal a lot of throws and counters from Judo and modify them. Many of them will seriously fuck someone up if executed on a hard surface, so it’s a serious consideration as to if you want to go all the way with such a throw. If you kill or paralyze someone because they put you in a headlock or a standing rear-naked you will very likely face legal consequences of some type. Might you be justified in doing what you did? Sure, but explaining that to a jury of ignorant people while arguing against a lawyer who wants your money or to jail you and will make idiotic statements that seem rational to those ignorant jury critters becomes and uphill battle even if you have a good explanation.

    Further, if you’re attacked by an unarmed assailant (or what turns out to be an unarmed assailant after the fact) and you do use your pistol you better be able to articulate exactly why you shot that motherfucker and do so very, very well. A lot of people don’t understand the danger of fisticuffs and will assume that you just freaked out and shot a person you should have been able to deal with without using your gun. There is no shortage of idiots out there who think they can fight when they actually have no fucking idea what they’re on about. This includes a lot of cops. They will apply their own assumptions about how badass they are to your situation. They all think they’re Conor McGregor when they’re no where close and they assume you should be too.

    Long story short: be aware that it’s likely that other people who know absolutely fuck all about self-defense/fighting/gun fighting will be the ones judging your actions.

  14. The cop didn’t shoot anybody, it worked out OK and some jackhandles are calling him a coward for not panicking and doing a mag dump? Or for having the sense to keep moving and make some space while he assessed the situation?

    Are these the same jackhandles who would be calling for his head if he killed the guy?

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