Christmas Eve, 2013.
We were dispatched to a fight in the road between two unknown male subjects. Of course, by the time we arrived, both had fled the scene.
sheer luck exemplary police work, my partner located one of the vehicles in a nearby neighborhood. Using our keen sense of observation and tracking skills (or simply following the yowling coming from the home the vehicle was parked in front of), we were able to contact one of the involved parties.
As soon as he opened the door, two things quickly became obvious:
- This guy had been involved in a fight…and appeared to have lost. (Don’t read that as “victim”…at this point, we had no idea what had happened in the fight.)
- This guy was hammered.
He attempted to refuse us entry. Based on the totality of the circumstances and our need to check on his welfare, he was not successful.
I briefly left the interior of the home to go outside. When I came back, the other officers and the gentleman were in the kitchen…the place every cop should fear.
When I walked in the kitchen, the man was standing next to the sink. To the left of the sink was a very large chef’s knife. He was less than ten feet away from us. Any cop will tell you that an edged weapon attack happens so quickly, that unless the suspect is more than 20+ feet away, it is highly unlikely an officer can clear his holster and fire his weapon before the suspect is on him and slicing away.
It seemed as though my partners had not seen the knife. It was sitting behind a bag and was difficult to see. I just happened to catch it as I walked in.
Knowing what I do about edged weapons, I took my Taser out (still on safe) and held it down by my side.
I asked the man to put his water glass down and please return to the living room. He didn’t really want to listen. I asked him again to please come out of the kitchen for his safety and for ours. I wanted to make sure my partners knew the knife was there, so I also told him he needed to stay away from the knife.
He assured us he would never harm us.
All the same, I wanted him out of there and now we all knew the knife was an issue. Eventually, the man put his glass down.
Near the knife.
His hand briefly rested on the handle and that’s when the air in the room altered.
Guns came out. I activated my Taser and placed the red dot on his chest. We began to yell instructions. He let go of the knife, but remained near it and ignored our instructions.
A brief caveat:
You may be thinking, “Why the hell didn’t you pull your gun out?!?”
I already had my Taser in my hand after I had noticed the knife. When he initially rested his hand on it, my partners drew their duty weapons. Why would I fumble with reholstering my Taser and then drawing my duty weapon? Besides all that, having options with deployed weapons is a wonderful thing. Can you deploy a 40mm sponge round and your duty weapon at the same time? Of course not. No difference here.
We continued to yell at the man to turn around and place his hands on his head.
He looked at us. He looked to his right at the knife on the counter. The thought process was visible on his face. He was calculating his odds.
In concert, my partner and I uttered one last “Turn around!”
To which the man stated, “Fuck you!” and then grabbed the knife. He took half a step toward my partner (of whom I’m quite fond) and began to raise the knife.
Anger, rage, and murder were in his eyes.
I shot him.
Note that I didn’t say “I deployed my Taser” even though that is more specific. The weapon system I had in my hand at the time was a post script. Had it been my duty weapon in my hand, I’d have killed that man and it would have been a textbook good shoot.
I was in fear for the life of my partner. I was attempting to prevent serious bodily injury or death. It was all articulated in the report we all wrote.
The bottom line is the threat was stopped.
The only reason my partners didn’t shoot him is I was simply half a second faster. They had the discipline not to sympathetically fire. They immediately recognized the threat was off the table and acted appropriately.
I work with some true professionals.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say I saved not only my partner’s life that day, but the life of the suspect as well. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back or receive accolades. I say it to remind myself that I have what it takes to prevent loss of life and I am capable of taking action when it is required.
Sometimes, you simply don’t know until the time comes.
Thankfully, I don’t have to spend every Christmas from here until the end of eternity remembering the day I killed a man.
PoliceOne.com recently posted a brief video regarding Taser use and deadly force situations. I could not agree with the content and premise more. Take the time to watch the three minute video. If you’re a LEO, you’ll have some excellent food for thought. If you’re a civilian, you’ll understand a bit more about what we do and why we do it that way.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr and Tinou Bao