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 Roy Middleton was shot Saturday morning by deputies while trying to get a cigarette out of his mother's car. (courtesy / Kevin Robinson/

“Roy Middleton, a 60-year-old resident of Warrington, Fla. . . claims that he was searching the car for a loose cigarette when he heard someone say, ‘Get your hands where I can see them,'” reports. The 60-year-old thought a neighbor was playing a joke on him. Nope. Middleton turned to find Escambia County police standing in front of him, guns drawn. Middleton extracted himself from his mother’s car with his arms raised. The cops opened fire. “It was like a firing squad,” Middleton told the paper. “Bullets were flying everywhere.” . . .

Whether or not you take Middleton’s story at face value this is hardly the first time cops have shot the wrong person. As an armed American, you need to consider the possibility of “friendly fire” and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Yes, yes. The cops should adjust their behavior to avoid shooting innocent civilians. We’ve long argued for a proper police protocol for officers approaching a home or business. Especially at night. Something along the lines of “This is the police!” While bad guys could imitate the shout-out, they can do that now, anyway. Anyway . . .

The most important step you can take to avoid getting shot by a cop is . . . don’t be a gang banger or criminal. (Pot smokers note: you’re a criminal.) I hold that truth to be self-evident. So we’ll skip that one and go with . . .

1. Assume the cops will view you as the perp

Before, after or during a defensive gun use (DGU) you will see yourself as “the defender.” They’re the bad guy or bad guys. I’m the good guy. True! And yet how is a responding police officer supposed to know that?

The cops are as hopped-up on adrenalin as you are. They’ve got tunnel vision, just like you. Despite all that serve and protect stuff, their primary concern is not getting killed. So if you’re holding a gun . . .

You are in deep, deep trouble.

If it’s safe to do so you need to holster that bad boy ASAP, before the cops arrive (You practice re-holstering, right?) If you can’t or shouldn’t, know this: the cops will view you as a lethal threat. Period.

A recent Force Science Institute (FSI) email blast sounds the warning klaxon for their law enforcement friends and family.

In blue-on-blue confrontations, “the heaviest burden really is on the unidentified officer,” [FSI’s executive director Dr. Bill] Lewinski. explains. “Cops need to learn to change their mindset when they are in civilian clothes and to understand the dangerous position they place themselves in when they engage in enforcement activities in plainclothes.”

You too.

This excerpt raises another important point: who says the cop (or cops) responding to your DGU, the guy pointing a gun at you, will be in uniform? And what of off-duty cops posing as on-duty cops to rob people at gunpoint, with cops arriving on the scene? How’s that for a potential cluster you-know-what?

There are only two ways to deal with this “challenge”: try to keep your wits about you and pray. As my father said, it’s better to be lucky than smart.

2. Freeze!

The Force Science folks recommend that cops out of uniform facing their brother officers in a “law enforcement situation” should “comply promptly with commands.” Ixnay on the omptlypray. Freeze.

Being high testosterone Homo sapiens, cops under stress respond to movement. Any sudden movement runs the risk of ballistic retaliation. In other words, “one false move” and the cops could shoot you.

In the story above an unarmed civilian claims he backed out of his car and put his hands on his head. Good thinking. The question is, how quickly did he do it? If Mr. Middleton’s hands flew towards his head the movement may have triggered the firearm fusillade, including “sympathetic fire”.

Drop the gun! Put your hands up! Freeze! Get down! We’ve run stories where cops shot good guys trying to obey conflicting commands. The safest course of action: freeze. Let the cops get their proverbial shit together. Then . . .

3. Move slowly

After you’ve frozen, slowly comply. If you can, tell the cop what you’re going to do before you do it. “I’m going to put my gun down now.”

If the police ask you to do something that could be misconstrued as an aggressive action by another cop arriving on the scene (e.g., handing a cop your gun from your holster) reserve the right to offer an alternative. “I’d rather you remove the firearm officer.”

I got pulled over for speeding the other night. I turned on the hazards, put down all the windows and kept my hands on the wheel with my license and permit in my right hand. The cop asked me where my gun was and requested proof of insurance. I said “It’s in the glove box. May I get it?” I did so slowly.

Yeah, it’s that important. And a hundred times more important before, during or after a DGU. Oh and the cops aren’t totally oblivious to the need to factor in the possibility of an armed good guy on the scene. Lewinski.

“Responding officers, on the other hand, need to practice utilizing cover whenever possible in approaching uncertain situations. This may give them more time to pick up on cues to a target officer’s identity and to analyze subtleties of the circumstances they’re facing.”

Good luck with that. For all our sakes.

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    • This case needs someone with credibility. Those two punks would leave people to believe that the LEO were acting properly.

      • There’s always more to the story or sometimes it’s misrepresented. Did Z stalk Trayvon and shoot him because he was black for instance? Did the cops get a call from a neighbor about a guy breaking into a car in this case? Did he act in a treatening manner? Was he drunk, high or just going through nicotine withdrawal? Or maybe it went down just as he said, in which case the cops should be punished.

        • I don’t know why the hell you’re bringing Zimmerman and Martin into this, ffs.

          In answer to your second actual (your first nonstupid) question, yes, the cops were responding to a call from a neighbor.

        • The reference to Zimmerman is called an “analogy” Matt. Meant to illustrate the fact that the media sometimes misrepresents things. Thanks for answering my non stupid question.

  1. So to sum it up: even when doing nothing wrong at all with your own property in your own neighborhood assume the police are there to kill you. Check.

        • “Discretion is the better part of valor” – Be cool around the fuzz, they apparently WILL gladly kill you (and your dog for good measure). More power to you though \raises fist of resistance/. I love my dogs too much to shoot at the police.

  2. For some reason I was waiting to see shoot first, shoot fast and dump all your mags but then I realized this isn’t LAPD looking for Dorner

  3. 4) Put police officers in prison when they recklessly or maliciously shoot the innocent.

    More of a long-term countermeasure, I admit, but it’s an important one.

    • This is what happens to military police when they screw up. They are usually far more disciplined in their use of force than civilian cops.

      • I think it was in a CATO paper some years ago I read they compared a military raid on a home in a warzone to a no-knock raid on any home in anytown, USA and the gist of it was that the military have to jump through so many hoops and checks and double and triple checks before they can even consider kicking in a door while here at home the cops basically need a hunch and a boot.

      • Police should have to follow the same ROE as military does in Iraq, and face the same consequences. Its scary to think just how big an improvement that would be for public safety.

        • I have heard of cases where Afghans have been observed in the open, in broad daylight, arriving, getting out of a vehicle, slowly digging a hole and putting 155 shells inside, then filling the hole and driving away, on the side of a road within M240 range of a FOB.

          And the gun crew called each step of the process up to higher, giving detail about how these were probably the people who had for months tried and sometimes succeeded in blowing up their friends, ultimately being denied permission to fire and watching as the IED team finished their job and drove away.

          While I see your point, sometimes the military shouldn’t have to follow the ROE of the military.

        • I have watched it happen, and it is extremely frustrating. To watch the same people who just launched a bunch of rockets off the back of a truck stand around and wait for a ride away from their burning vehicle and not be able to do anything about it is one of the most anger inducing things I have experienced. We were denied permission to engage and the guys got picked up by some dude and drove off.

    • (5 Make cops pay any settlements out of their own pockets, not with taxpayer funds. Attach their wages 40%, including retirement and social security, until it’s either paid up, or, much more likely, they die.

      After a couple cops on every force have their wages attached SEVERELY, you will see a rapid change in how they approach encounters.

    • There’s really not. Neighbor calls cops about potential prowler/car break-in. Cops show up, find this man in his own driveway, rifling through his own car. Cops order him to stand up and turn around, which he does. Apparently he does so “too quickly” or some stupid shit, and they open fire. Something like 10 rounds hit the car, one or two more hit the guy, and an unknown number hit… something downrange.

  4. I suppose it would be too much to ask that the officers be punished in any way, so I guess we’ll just have to pony up a few million in taxpayer money to set things straight?

    • Self defense and the means to overcome an attack should be available to all, where ever they happen to be; more so for LEOs.

      LEOs are the initiators of a contact when enforcing the law and investigating criminal activity. That is their pledge and their duty.

      They are usually inserting themselves into a highly charged hostile encounter at an unfamiliar setting so they will be primed to react to any perceived threat. Their frame of mind will be in a defensive mode and understandably suspicious of any unknowns that present, especially movement.

      It’s because of these factors they are accorded great latitude in their decisions when an incident goes south.

      BTW, all great advice by Robert Farago.

      • Apparently you didn’t read the same story I did.

        “Self defense and the means to overcome an attack should be available to all, where ever they happen to be; more so for LEOs.” – There was no attack here although the police may have imagined one. Civilians deserve the same rights to self defense as LEOs. Civilians generally do not wear armor and rarely have backup.

        “LEOs are the initiators of a contact when enforcing the law and investigating criminal activity.” – Which is exactly why they should announce themselves when sneaking up on their victims (sic). It’s safer for both officer and suspect. Police should also never forget that the vast majority of us are not law breakers, even when our actions might appear suspicious.

        “They are usually inserting themselves into a highly charged hostile encounter at an unfamiliar setting so they will be primed to react to any perceived threat.” – What did they think the 60 year old man was doing? Stealing car stereos? It was the police that made this a “highly charged hostile encounter”. What’s wrong with, “Excuse me sir, this is the police, do you mind stepping away from the vehicle?” I wouldn’t blame them from having their hands on their weapons, but drawing and firing on an unarmed man is not acceptable.

        Of course the victim could be full of BS, but this sort of thing happens all the time because too many cops have an “us against the world – whatever it takes to make it home” attitude. It’s not such a fine line to be prepared for the 1% without trampling the rights of the 99%.

      • And they watch too many TV shows and conclude that they have a high probability of being shot.

        • Laugh; soap operas with guns and pretty actors.

          My wife watches some of those: they disgust me particularly in how much fantasy and misinformation they feed unknowing viewers.

  5. “claims that he was searching the car for a loose cigarette”

    Sounds like another tobacco related problem.

    • Even if that is true, the police were on the property illegally at worse and by gross negligence at best and assaulted him with deadly weapons.

      • I don’t know where you get that idea. neighbor had called 911 thinking someone was trying to steal the car or burgle what was inside. And the position he was in, laying across the seat with a flashlight, suggested that he was trying to steal the radio….

        • I see you missed the part about “illegally at worst” or “gross negligence at best part.” Furthermore, LEO should know better than to make too many assumptions about a anonymous call. That isn’t grounds to go onto private property and execute someone. Furthermore, some people use flashlights to find things. I even use them in the day time to look under the dash.

        • His neighbor did not recognize him. Likely story. Sounds like a spiteful neighbor to me.

  6. There is something inherently wrong when police show up in someone’s drive way and do a magazine dump on them and claim “it was a mistake.” These officers need arrested and fired. I would like to see Florida pass an Indiana style law making it legal for folks to defend themselves in these situations. The man is fortunate that thiese punks were poor shots.

    • This is one of the most hypocritical aspects of NY’s SAFE Act, limiting civilians to seven (now ten) rounds. Police officers, from what I have seen, are (apparently) trained to do a mag dump at a high rate of fire, even if it is just a single subject. That means 13-19 rounds down range. Yet civilians are expected to outshoot the police?

    • How might an unarmed man defend himself against 17 shots? I suppose the best tactic might be to stand still, and not run into the path of any bullets.

      SERIOUSLY? They missed *17 times* at close range?

      • We all need to wear body armor now apparently. That is really going to mess with my current wardrobe…and here I was bitching about how heavy my G26 is.

      • It would force an effort for LEO to act like storm troopers relying on thin probable cause. In Florida, there have been quite a few encounters with LEO by people at home soley based on anon phone calls. Look up the story in Sarasota where a nurse had a U.S. Marshal throwing down on her in Rambo dress just before Sarasota SWAT busted her door down. They were in the wrong apartment complex. Furthermore, there are people that home carry or prepared in addition to people the ccw with a license. It is a matter of time before these chickens start assassinating people if they are questioned.

  7. Democracy Now reports that Middleton said he was holding keys with a metal flashlight attached when the deputies unleashed 15 rounds on him, “shattering Middleton’s leg and riddling the car with bullets.”

    Cops are going to make sure they are going home no matter what. Don’t hold anything and keep hands up and fingers spread with (correct) SSLLOOWW movements.

    In NC, we are required to roll the drivers side window down halfway with both hands on steering wheel whilst telling the cop we havea CHP.

    These guys were good, looks like one hit (possibly more) in 15 shots, they must have been scared to death. Oh, and cops are there to help and protect us. . . . .not.

  8. A better option would be to disarm government employees. A government employee should not be allowed to carry the means to harm a citizen.

  9. LEO should be held to the same laws as everyone else.
    They should experience the same level of scrutiny and consequence as anyone else with a gun.

  10. Other advice to avoid being shot by the cops includes not being poor or a minority, god help you if you’re both. That bit of vitriol aside, not looking like a criminal can help. There was an article here at TTAG recently regarding general appearance, much of it could be repeated here.

    Obviously empty hands held high with splayed fingers helps considerably. We POTG shouldn’t have too hard a time getting into the officers shoes. Take a little time to think about what you would and wouldn’t want from someone you had at gunpoint and extrapolate how to behave when the cops have you in that position.

    Obviously we need (need isn’t quite strong enough a word for it) serious reform in the way officers are held accountable for such shootings as well as over arching changes in the way police in general perform their duties. Until something is done about the pervasive ‘us vs them’ mentality in many departments shoot first and cover up later will continue to be SOP.

    • “not looking like a criminal can help. There was an article here at TTAG recently regarding general appearance, much of it could be repeated here. ”

      I’d like to point out that wearing jeans and a tee shirt – dirty or not – is perfectly reasonable dress in one’s own driveway. Should he have put on a tux to go fetch a cigarette? Would it have made a difference?

  11. (Pot smokers note: you’re a criminal.) except if you reside in Washington state or Colorado.

      • These weren’t federal LEO’s. What is more, there is no Firing Squad federal penalty for smoking pot. I’ve come to see anti-pot laws as nothing but excuses to tax more and hire more. Meanwhile, on my very own upper middle class street I’ve seen, over 24 years, a number of absurd actions by drunken people including homeowners, teenagers, an investment banker, including car accidents and some spousal violence. Whiskey and Vodka are the devil’s brew, not weed. If Ted Kennedy had been stoned on pot, not drunk, Mary Jo would be alive today.

        • Tell that to the folks that got crushed due to a mistake by a very stoned crane operator in OK earlier this year. Impaired is impaired. That was moot here because it was a parked car on private property.

        • Of course a person shouldn’t operate a crane while stoned. That wasn’t my point. A person shouldn’t do that after a few stiff vodkas, either. Why jail for weed plants, but not a case of whiskey? It’s a simple point. The answer is the law is random, not science-based. Physicians know that serious brain damage comes from heavy drinking, wet-brain syndrome, for example. From weed? They’re still debating whether there is any permanent damage whatever! I don’t use weed, but I know many people who do. And I despise drunks. My point is about the criminalization, and also about which one leads to violence. Police know that if they could get just one substance off the streets on Saturday night, alcohol or weed, they’d choose to remove alcohol. The Charlottesville Police Chief went on record with that years ago, and I’ve heard it from many others over the years.

      • Don you are looking at the power of law Federal VS State backasswards, the federal government has the legal authority to ban marijuana but not to “commandeer” the states into enforcing its ban. I would love to see the federal government try to criminally prosecute state officials, talk about a constitutional minefield!

        Also note: And the Fed has done nothing about those two states laws, see above.

        • The feds most certainly have the authority/ability to coerce states into enforcing whatever rules they want – the purse strings. See a) drinking age of 21 nationwide and b) the old 55 MPH speed limit.

          And the feds have gone after individual marijuana growers who were growing for their own use in compliance with their state’s laws. See the events that led up to the SCOTUS Gonzales v. Raich decision. Specifically, the raid by federal agents (and the local Sheriff dept.) on the residence of an individual (Diane Monson) who was growing 6 marijuana plants for her own use – in compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws.

        • Actually the Federal government doesn’t have the legal authority to ban marijuana, as there was never a constitutional amendment granting them that authority, as there was with the ban on alcohol. What they do have is a really big army and a willingness to use it on anyone who gets uppity about their legal authority.

          • (Quoting the whole post to which I’m replying because the reply function looks like it’s putting it at the bottom, instead of inline where it belongs…)

            Actually the Federal government doesn’t have the legal authority to ban marijuana, as there was never a constitutional amendment granting them that authority, as there was with the ban on alcohol. What they do have is a really big army and a willingness to use it on anyone who gets uppity about their legal authority.

            The Federal government does have the power to coerce the states into implementing almost anything they please. They did it with the 55mph speed limit and they did it with the minimum drinking age – don’t follow our rules, don’t get highway funds.

            As for marijuana – the SCOTUS ruled on that several years ago (Gonzales v. Raich). Basing much of their ruling on a much older case (Wickard v. Filburn), they said that if an individual’s miniscule activities affect interstate commerce, even if that commerce is illicit, then Congress can regulate those activities.

            Whether Congress really has the Constitutional authority to do so is not really relevant. Congress is doing it, the SCOTUS has said it’s OK, and the DOJ is enforcing it.

      • Just grow up and stop smoking the crap. Likely don’t engage in other socially unacceptable behavior – grabbing supermodel rearends, throwing pumpkins off of bridges, urinating in public, etc etc, etc.

    • Actually, it’s 19 states. Look it up. And god made it, so he sure doesn’t respect any laws against it. AND NEITHER DO I.

  12. Obviously the police need more range time shooting at targets that depict elderly white males, pregnant teenagers and old grannies with walkers as the threat.

  13. When the cops show up, genuflect. Then crawl towards them on your knees. Then make a large contribution to the Fraternal Order of Artiodactyla. You should be fine.

    All cops really want is to go home at night safely and collect a lifetime pension for doing as little police work as possible. Since they have a license to kill anyone who even appears to interfere with either, regardless of age, gender or paraplegia, with no repercussions whatsoever, one must be very careful around cops. All things considered, it’s best to avoid cops completely whenever possible.

  14. The news report I read stated one cop fired 3 bullets and the other cop 12(!) bullets.

    OK, I have no problem supporting and defending the police when I believe or sense they are in the right morally and to defend themselves. After the first few (at most) fired bullets the cop should have stopped even if truthfully he at first believed he was being set upon. Something is morally wrong here.

    • I’m going to bet that the guy who fired three is the guy who started firing, and the guy who fired twelve was the sympathetic gunfire.

      I’d also be interested to know which one actually hit him. If it was the guy that fired three. Wouldn’t it be (darkly) funny if it was the guy that only fired three, since that means the guy who dumped twelve did absolutely nothing? Maybe they should just give him a full-auto and assign him to suppressive fire in future incidents?

  15. TO: All
    RE: Apparently…..

    …based on THIS report, their sole intent was to murder the man.

    The investigation is going to prove ‘interesting’.


    [The Truth will out…..eventually.]

  16. This works every time you get pulled over for speeding. Turn off the car put it in park. Get your license and registration ready in one hand. Roll down the window and stick both hands out of the window with license and registration ready in hand. No need for conversation. Keep hands out at all times. I have done this every time and always received a warning.

    • This was in the carport in a parked car. Plus, sticking your hands out the window sounds kind of stupid. What ever happened to keeping them high on the steering wheel.

    • Getting your license and insurance card out before the office reaches the side of your car can cause the officer to be suspicious of your movements. Officers have told me that it is best to roll down your windows and put your hands on the steering wheel or dashboard and wait for instructions. When they ask for your license let them see you slowly move to get it out of your back pocket where it is most likely stuck to the seat of your pants.

      • Same as I’ve been told. Keep your hands on the wheel, where they can see them as they approach. Whatever you do, don’t be making movements towards the glovebox, under the seat, across the seat, into the back seat, etc after you’ve been pulled over.

  17. So, the guy wearing body armor in TN (reported on yesterday) doesn’t seem so stupid now, right?

  18. Obviously there are some very serious quality control issues in US law enforcement. My local PD never acts in such wanton fashion. They appear very quickly, but do not rush to close with people. They speak clearly. They are very reluctant to draw a weapon. Clearly this isn’t the case in many jurisdictions. I am absolutely shocked by the failure of many PD’s to use very bright light at night if they fear a person is going for a weapon. I consider such failure de facto negligence, and this should become a rebuttable presumption. “Of course you couldn’t tell it was a cell phone, not a gun. You couldn’t see his hands because you didn’t bother to use a very bright flashlight. Is the person you shot supposed to be self-illuminating?”

  19. If there are a group of cops, more than one! Do they have a protocol for who shoots? It does not seem so. Wy do four five or ten cops ALL shoot one perp? There should be one or two who start shooting. Maybe they do but all too often we see numerous cops who fire and who can say what they hit. Anyone know the rules, if any?

    • I’ve often wondered this. Why, for example, there isn’t a “designated shooter” if the suspect draws a weapon. One shooter, not three or six. The answer immediately appears, though: Nobody wants that much responsibility for judgement or accuracy. Better to be able to say “we don’t know who actually fired the kill shot, but we all obviously though shooting was necessary.” And they’re allowed this bizarre and obvious ruse.

      • ” Nobody wants that much responsibility for judgement or accuracy.”

        NAILED it! It’s the old firing squad ruse; no shooter knows if he’s shooting bullets or blanks. Of course, any idiot can tell the difference.

    • Don’t they all get “Paid Vacation” after a shoot?

      Perhaps that’s your answer.

      • Sometimes it’s desk duty; not precisely a vacation. A little demeaning, actually. But hardly punishment.

  20. “The first thing you’re going to want to do is try your very hardest not to be black or hispanic.”

    Edit: and in regards to the constant popups I get on this site while on my phone (and NO other sites I frequent), NO I DON’T WANT TO INSTALL GODDAMN CANDY CRUSH!

  21. Here’s the other side of the situation. Here’s a press release from the Escambia County Sheriff (also my sheriff btw and a great one). I really fail to see how this makes national news. Middleton did everything wrong to escalate a situation of mistaken identity. ECSO is merely taking the fall for a bad storm that is out of their hands.

  22. Do you honestly believe that someone that smokes pot is in the same realm as other criminals? They should be worried about getting shot? You are clueless, you should put drunk people in their considering they are more likely to commit violent acts, more than some stoner

  23. How to not get shot by the cops: Stay as far away as possible. If you have no other choice but to be within a 1 block area prepare to be raped by the PD with out consequence. I am Not a criminal in fact I work as a security guard but I do not trust any police officer.

  24. This is a street level example of why swatting is so dangerous. The cops should not have shot the man. But they should not have been there in the first place. In this specific instance, a neighbor called because someone was using a flashlight inside a car at 2am. But in the standard swatting, the call is usually some type of call that will amp up the response.

  25. A drunk is much more likely to come home and (try to)beat the wife/husband/kids/dog/whatever than a pothead. However the pothead WILL come home and eat everything in the fridge!

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