Want to avoid getting shot by the police? Don’t arm yourself with a knife, board public transport and then refuse to obey armed officers who tell you to drop the knife. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

30 Jul


In 2011, Lieutenant Joe Szczerba responded to a call to back up officers searching for a man accused of stealing cars in New Castle, Delaware.  After a short foot chase, and a struggle, Lt. Szczerba was stabbed in the neck and died in hospital.


Between 2002 and 2011, ten corrections officers in the United States were stabbed and killed carrying out their duties. Here are just a few of them.


Senior Officer Specialist Eric Williams

United States Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Prisons, US

EOW: Monday, February 25, 2013

Cause of Death: Stabbed

Location: Pennsylvania


Correctional Officer Larry L. Stell

Georgia Department of Corrections, GA

EOW: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cause of Death: Stabbed


Sergeant Mary Katherine Ricard

Colorado Department of Corrections, CO

EOW: Monday, September 24, 2012

Cause of Death: Stabbed


Sergeant Ruben Howard Thomas, III

Florida Department of Corrections, FL

EOW: Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cause of Death: Stabbed


Corporal Barbara Ann Ester

Arkansas Department of Correction, AR

EOW: Friday, January 20, 2012

Cause of Death: Stabbed


Correctional Officer Buddy Ray Herron

Oregon Department of Corrections, OR

EOW: Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cause of Death: Stabbed


Put officers in close contact with murderers, and some of them, no matter how well guarded with Kevlar, no matter how well armed, will end up dead at the end of a blade.


Officer Steven Green was stabbed to death outside a prison in Mobile, Alabama in 2012.



Detective John Weir was stabbed in the face in 1990, an attack that left him partially paralyzed, brain damaged, and blind until his death in 2004.



Officer Michael Scanlon was stabbed to death after a routine traffic stop in Detroit, in 2002.



Police officers can and do die in the line of duty as the result of injuries sustained by knife-wielding assailants. Someone with a knife and murderous intent can cross the space of twenty feet in about 2 seconds, and inflict a fatal blow.


Sammy Yatim

It should come as no surprise to anyone then, that Toronto Police Officers took a man who barricaded himself on a streetcar, waving a knife around, as a very serious threat.  A threat so serious, nine shots were fired and a young man named Sammy Yatim is dead.

It’s fairly easy to stand across the street and shoot what appears to be a very damning video, when you are well out of the range of danger, and that is exactly what one bystander in Toronto did.

Toronto Police are no strangers to the dangers of knives and they know exactly what kind of damage can be inflicted on them in the line of duty.  Veteran officer Jeff Blair was stabbed in the neck attempting an arrest in 2012, and he is lucky to have survived that altercation.



Whatever happened in Toronto, and surely there will be a proper investigation, I think we should all be paying the officers the respect of assuming they reacted in way that was proportionate to the danger they were facing.  It’s easy to look at how young Sammy is, and decide that the officers were just big and mean and stupid, and they killed an innocent man for no reason.

Innocent men don’t grab knives and take over a street car and refuse to comply with officers who are very clearly asking for a peaceful resolution.

Drop the knife.

It’s pretty clear what the officers want. We have no idea at all what Sammy’s intentions were, although I think it’s pretty safe to assume he wasn’t looking for a convenient ride to the ice cream parlor.

bike cops

The subsequent hysteria from the citizens of Toronto about living in a police state with “protectors” who are just as likely to kill you as defend you is patently, absurdly, insultingly ridiculous.

This woman wants the police to “use their words”, not their bullets.


Guess what?  They DID use their words.

Drop the knife.

Sammy didn’t.  Sammy is dead.

Good play, Sammy.

The truth, no doubt, will come out and I for one will not be the slightest bit shocked to discover that Sammy had some serious mayhem on his mind, and that the Toronto Officers responded appropriately.  But even if that is NOT the case, even if the officer was a trigger happy brute who shot a man at what amounts to point blank range, the fact remains that Sammy boarded a street car with a knife and had a bad case of attitude.

Sammy could have avoided being shot at ten different stages of that game.  Start by NOT deciding to hijack a streetcar.  And when you’re surrounded by armed officers who are sworn to protect the public, put the fucking knife down.

Or face the consequences.

What about that is hard to understand?

Lots of love,


74 Responses to “Want to avoid getting shot by the police? Don’t arm yourself with a knife, board public transport and then refuse to obey armed officers who tell you to drop the knife. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!”

  1. Maureen from Canada July 30, 2013 at 13:15 #

    There seems to be an assumption that during the encounter police ‘knew’ (as in a provable fact) that no one else was on the streetcar. Maybe they did (I doubt it) – I wonder what would have been the public outrage if there had been another individual on the bus and Sammy went back and stabbed the individual. The response would have been that the police ‘should’ have known and ‘should’ have done something.

    Frankly I don’t know why anyone would consider becoming a police officer today since the general public is so well trained in how to handle such situations.


  2. Anon Ymus July 30, 2013 at 13:48 #

    Finally, an article about law enforcement that does not insinuate we live in an Orwellian or Kafakaesque (the former is both less likely and WAY more terrifying than the latter) police state. Thank you, JB.


  3. freetofish July 30, 2013 at 14:04 #

    Sorry JB, but you are way off on this one. I have 3 cousins who are current serving RCMP officers and two uncles who are retired RCMP and every one of them have said based on that video there was no reason what so ever to discharge 9 shots into that kid, None. He was in a basically secure location in that street car.

    There were over a dozen (23 to be exact shown in that video) officers right there to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere and wasn’t a threat to civilians or the officers.

    If he had “serious mayhem” on his mind, why have/let the passengers and driver get off the bus before all this went down? This was a situation that could have been solved with non lethal force, You did notice the one officer shot the kid 9 times, someone then Tazers him for a good 6 seconds right? That should have been the first choice.

    I have the utmost respect for Police officers. I have family that puts their lives on the line every day in that capacity. But, when even they say the officer who decided to discharge was in the wrong, well I choose to believe they know what they are about.


  4. judgybitch July 30, 2013 at 14:09 #

    Until the truth comes out, Free, I think we should be lining up behind the officers. Not the nutbar on the streetcar with a knife.

    I agree that the video looks awful. But it’s one perspective, and not a complete one.


  5. culdesachero July 30, 2013 at 14:13 #

    Words from my mouth, taken out by you.
    It is strange that when a sex offender (alleged) who threatens violence is an identifiable minority, he becomes a victim.
    Police are there to remove dangerous people. Preferably by detaining them, but lethal force if necessary.
    In Canada people are upset when police perform their duty. But, when they violate the rights of property owners, break down their doors and steal their property, as in High River, AB, they see nothing wrong.


  6. Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 14:17 #

    6 times “Drop the knife”. And he refused. Cops had no option. They behave properly.


  7. freetofish July 30, 2013 at 14:23 #

    In most cases I would and do, given my family relations. In this case though, it really is hard to give that officer the benefit of the doubt. I just don’t see any way 1, 118lb 18 year old kid with a pocket knife was such a threat to 23 police officers that they needed to resort to lethal force.

    In those cases you listed above, the officers were in a 1 on 1 situation, especially when it comes to corrections officers. That was just not the case here.

    As you say, there may be more to this that the video isn’t showing, I hope the Ontario SIU is transparent and open with the investigation. As to the reactions of the people of Toronto, well they are still a bit touchy after the way the TPD and OPP acted during the G20 summit.


  8. Anon Ymus July 30, 2013 at 14:23 #

    I blame Harper. If he were actually conservative, things would be MUCH better.


  9. Wilson July 30, 2013 at 14:34 #

    Cops claim the status of “heroes” who “risk their lives” when someone criticizes their fat salaries, so their personal safety is not a sufficient argument. In any case the average doughnut is at least twice as dangerous as a guy bringing a knife to a gunfight with 20 cops. Was killing the guy necessary to restore public safety? The bystanders were more likely to be injured from heart attacks caused by the gunfire, ricochets, or an asteroid


  10. judgybitch July 30, 2013 at 14:40 #

    I’m not familiar with the G20 summit.

    Can you give us the quick and dirty about what happened?


  11. Liz July 30, 2013 at 14:43 #

    We don’t have a view from the perspective of the officers. I have a LEO friend who sent us a video once, and asked for our opinion. It showed a man walking towards police officers with a cell phone, and they shot him. He then sent us another video of the SAME event, from a different camera angle, which showed a man pointing what looked exactly like a firearm, in the position of fire (it was the cell phone, the antenna looked like the gun barrel in that position), towards the policemen, and then they shot him. It was amazing how that one change in perspective changed everything, and honestly, I had to believe it to see it.

    I wouldn’t rush to any judgement without knowing exactly what was happening in that bus, from the policemen’s vantage point.


  12. zornskin July 30, 2013 at 14:46 #

    Either this officer believes he is the worst shot on the force, or he was taking advantage of an(seemingly justifiable) opportunity to kill some one. At that distance, anyone who regularly uses his firearm could have put a bullet in just about any location they wanted to on that kid.

    The kid was a car-jacker and he was in non-compliance with the lawful directive of police officers. He was going to get shot, he kinda had to. But 9 times? Yeah? No, I don’t think so. There’s even an implied benefit for the officer to shoot to kill, instead of shoot to wound, as corpses can’t testify.

    I’ve read article, after article of cops staking out the wrong house, busting in and shooting the wrong people… even(in one instance) an unarmed mother who was on her knees to comply with the officers request and he shot her in the neck to bleed out in front of her daughter. I’m pretty sure that officer wasn’t even suspended. Don’t even ask how many dogs are getting killed regularly… dogs in the yards of neighbors of the perps, who appear to have been on the way. Or just because fuck you, I’m the POlice.

    The kid was asking for trouble. just not that much damn trouble.


  13. Liz July 30, 2013 at 14:47 #

    Had to see it to believe it I meant. LOL!


  14. Goober July 30, 2013 at 14:49 #

    The only time that it is permissable for anyone to use violent, lethal force against another human being is in self defense or in defense of another innocent.

    I wasn’t there and I hate to armchair quarterback these decisions, but it certainly didn’t look like self defense from the angle I just watched. I will absolutely concede that there could have been more going on than the video shows – subtle visual cues indicating an attack was imminent or something the guy said. So I agree we have to give the police the benefit of the doubt, assuming no recurring pattern happening here.

    But the argument that failing to follow orders is justification for lethal force is bogus, so I’m hoping that isn’t what you were trying to say./


  15. Goober July 30, 2013 at 14:53 #

    You’re from Spain so I’ll forgive the ignorance here. In the us and Canada failure to follow orders is not a justification for lethal force. If that is the officer’s only justification then what we have here is manslaughter, not justifiable shooting.


  16. Bob Wallace July 30, 2013 at 15:09 #

    Stay in Spain, stop making ignorant comments about which you know nothing.

    I’ll enlighten you a bit: look up “suicide by cop.”


  17. freetofish July 30, 2013 at 15:27 #

    Basically, Toronto hosted the G20 summit a couple years ago. The TPD and OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) decided that meant they could basically ignore the charter rights of citizens to demonstrate and protest and ignore due process when arresting people.

    There were literally hundreds and hundreds of complaints about the actions of the police including illegal strip searches, police brutality, unfounded arrests, holding people (900 or so of them who where never charged) for over 24hrs with no contact with family,lawyers etc.



  18. judgybitch July 30, 2013 at 15:29 #

    Okay, not nice.

    But nobody got shot nine times or pulled a knife on officers.


  19. freetofish July 30, 2013 at 16:08 #

    No, but it does kind of explain why the citizens of Toronto aren’t giving the PD the benefit of the doubt here, especially with what that video shows.


  20. freetofish July 30, 2013 at 16:20 #

    It should be interesting to see what the on board video from the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) shows. See, every bus,train and street car in Toronto is equipped with an on board video camera.


  21. Sir_Chancealot July 30, 2013 at 16:27 #

    Everyone needs to ask themselves why police don’t have microphones and a visual recording of everything they see. This would go a LONG way to eliminating any doubts.

    The technology to do it easily and inexpensively has been around for 10 years or so.

    If police object to it, ask yourselves why they protest.

    Oh, and I’d say if there is any “missing” footage or sound, then BY LAW, it ought to automatically go against the officer in question. In other words, if the video blanks out when the officer says the suspect pulled a gun, then it ought to be a matter of law that the officer is lying (whether he is or not, doesn’t matter.)


  22. Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 16:32 #

    I have no intention to travel to USA. Most of the subjects in this blog are universal. In this particular case I think (I do not know about the prtocols of the Canadian police) is just common sense.


  23. Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 16:37 #

    Yes, agree, “shoot to wound” is much more correct if he had a knife. In the case of a gun would be other thing.


  24. Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 16:38 #

    another thing.


  25. Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 16:51 #

    I read “suicide by a cop”.
    How can the cops notice if is such a case or is a dangerous criminal?
    Anyway, it seems you have a lot of casuistics about this term. I think it is not so frequent this side of the Atlantic or if even exists. I general, in this side of the Atlantic is not so frequent this level of violence and shootings you have in North America constantly.


  26. dejour July 30, 2013 at 17:23 #

    Yes, the kid was a criminal. He was probably high or drunk. But that wasn’t self-defence.

    They could have used tasers rather than guns. They could have backed up a few more feet if they felt they were in immindent danger.

    Two good things could come out of this:

    1) People might learn not to wave knives anywhere near police officers.

    2) Police might learn to use some judgement and common sense and not kill people who are not imminent threats


  27. Ashlyn July 30, 2013 at 17:42 #

    Yes, let’s uncritically accept the statements of the men claiming a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, unless given reason to believe otherwise.

    For reference, here is a further list of things you should avoid doing in order to avoid unpleasant police attention:



  28. Astrokid MHRA July 30, 2013 at 17:46 #

    Until the truth comes out, Free, I think we should be lining up behind the officers. Not the nutbar on the streetcar with a knife.
    Sure you have your instances of cops getting injured/killed when engaging armed people, but there are also numerous instances of police brutality (caught on tape in this channel).
    Power gets into the heads of those who wield it. Given what we see in this case as well, why would I not be more suspicious of the cops than the nutbar?


  29. Ashlyn July 30, 2013 at 17:53 #

    There are multiple sides to any story, and what sounds malicious and deranged to those of us reading about it in the paper next day might have been perfectly reasonable in the heat of the moment.

    I’m not advocating blanket, narrow-eyed suspicion of law enforcement, for the record. But cops have considerable power over the average citizen, and they should be able to stand up to some skepticism of how they wield that power.


  30. Ashlyn July 30, 2013 at 17:56 #

    I thought “shooting to wound” was a Hollywood thing. Anything you point the muzzle at, you’re supposed to be willing to destroy, so you always aim for center mass.

    If shooting him was justified, killing him was justified, is what I’m saying.


  31. Marlo Rocci July 30, 2013 at 18:10 #

    Your carotid artery is less than a quarter inch under the skin of your neck.

    Despite what you have seen on TV and the Movies, people do not fly back or instantly stop when shot. Many don’t even realize they have been shot until they start to bleed out. So someone with a knife can easily take your life even if you have already shot the suspect enough times to kill him.

    So yes, you shoot the hell out of a knife wielding suspect before they get anywhere near you.


  32. reyeko July 30, 2013 at 18:34 #

    The reason people are so critical of the police in Toronto is that no one has forgotten the G20 summit as mentioned before, to this day most of the officers who participated in a lot of that are no identified because they all wore those helmets. In this case though the angle is possibly one of the worst I can think they could have gotten.
    1. we don’t have constant view of the knife guy so we don’t see what he’s doing which the police who acted would have seen.
    2. I didn’t look up any other news stories on it but based on the fact they still seemed to act as if he was a threat after the 9 shots I’m assuming several if not most missed.
    3. The fact that they tazered him suggests further that most of the shots missed and he was still holding the knife, conscious, and since we couldn’t see him doing god knows what.
    4. tazers are unreliable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQkur9hQnN4


  33. Marlo Rocci July 30, 2013 at 18:36 #

    Shoot to wound is an idiotic mistake because unless you aim for the center of mass, that bullet can go anywhere. Always always shoot to the center of mass at all times. you do not want the bullet passing through the suspect’s leg into some kid.


  34. zornskin July 30, 2013 at 18:44 #

    I don’t point my gun at something I don’t intend to shoot. If I was in my home, the middle of the night with a burgular, I’m going to aim center-mass, and put the person down. I don’t know what I’m up against… they made their choice to commit suicide when they entered my house.

    This guy was still. Holding only a knife and was facing down at least a dozen officers. The situation was controlled. If I was the officer and the guy isn’t advancing, one of my fellow officers could have moved into place to taze, while I had a bead on him. If not one officer had had a Tazer, I’d take the discretionary hit and wound the guy.

    Killing this man doesn’t look like it was justified. Even if it wasn’t technically correct, I’d feel far more ok, if the officer had shot to wound, even if the perp had died as a result(complications: aterial bleeding and such).


  35. Ashlyn July 30, 2013 at 18:55 #

    Agreed. If you’re willing to threaten other people, you can’t complain when you bring a knife to a gun fight and lose.


  36. Exfernal July 30, 2013 at 19:14 #

    No option? Non-lethal ammo exists for such purpose. Even with the risk of bone-breaking or eye-gouging, it is still a better option after reaching an impasse.


  37. Ashlyn July 30, 2013 at 20:18 #

    I get that – preferring him to be alive with a messy GSW than outright dead. And I’m not convinced that the officers behaved to the highest standards of professionalism here either.

    It’s just that from what I know of handling firearms (which is probably not as much as you, as I’m not a gun owner myself), it was my understanding that shooting to wound was not an option.


  38. Liz July 30, 2013 at 20:30 #

    That will be interesting! I hadn’t even thought of that.
    It’s sure to either be illuminating or disheartening.


  39. LostSailor July 30, 2013 at 21:08 #

    I’m going to have to disagree on this one.

    Yes, it’s very good advice to obey police officers who tell you to drop the knife you’re holding. No question. It’s also probably a good idea to just not be “wielding” a knife by waving it around in public in the first place. That seems eminently reasonable. And if you’re still holding the knife when multiple cops have their guns pointed straight at you, I’d say it’s excellent advice to not taunt them by call them “fucking pussies.” If you do these things, you’re likely to be shot by a cop.

    But the facts in this particular instance don’t seem to meet those admonitions entirely. This kid was contained inside an empty street tram and, according to the linked stories, not any imminent danger to anyone else, including the police.

    But where I mainly disagree is here: I think we should all be paying the officers the respect of assuming they reacted in way that was proportionate to the danger they were facing.

    I would very much like to assume that police in situations such as this act in a reasonable manner. The do actually get this benefit of the doubt, at least officially. I was going to say that I would want to assume that police act in a “professional” manner, but with the increasing militarization of police forces, the meaning of “professional” has changed. In my experience, police have overall become more cynical and aggressive in their dealings with not just criminal suspects, but with the public in general. By inculcating a more paramilitary mindset in police forces, cops are much more likely to overreact to perceived threats.

    Cops absolutely hate and react with near or actual violence to being filmed during any kind of confrontation. Why? Most would say it’s because the public simply can’t understand what they’re seeing in such videos and will draw the wrong conclusions. But I think most people can analyze what they see to determine if a suspect is resisting arrest, for example, and will give the cops the benefit of the doubt. The problem is more that with a more militant mindset toward and perception of the public they ostensibly serve, there is a fundamental disconnect between the police and the citizenry. And the cops know this. They hate being filmed because they know that their tactics are often over-aggressive and they don’t want any hard evidence to surface, just in case.

    I’ve known a number of cops and I acknowledge that most cops are decent people trying to do a job that can alternate be boring and potentially punctuated by sudden and unpredictable danger. And even good cops, being human, can make mistakes. But there are enough cops out there who use excessive force who are rarely convicted or serve any serious time that most cops know they can often get away with pushing the envelope. It took 7 years and a Federal case to convict the 5 NOLA cops who shot 6 and killed 2 unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Katrina.

    It’s incredibly difficult to prosecute police, and not just for potential “official” misconduct but just in general. Even when police are tried, they have conviction and incarceration rates half that of the general public and receive approximately 30% less in average sentence length.

    A report for 2010 is here. It also shows that police misconduct is increasing.

    In this particular case, the police could have kept the kid contained in the empty tram and waited for the crisis intervention team to arrive. But they acted aggressively. One article reported that a cop was overheard saying–from outside the tram car==“If you take one step in this direction…you’re finished.” The kid, who at this point is standing farther back from the door than he was previously, made a slight movement and that was it. Great way to deescalate a situation. But that’s the mentality of the paramilitary police.

    So I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s difficult to do.


  40. LostSailor July 30, 2013 at 21:09 #

    Damn. screwed up that last tag…


  41. Marlo Rocci July 30, 2013 at 22:26 #

    I also want to throw in that police are generally required to use 9mm ammunition these days. Unless the round hits your heart, brain or spine, chances are you aren’t going to stop. That’s why they had to use 9 rounds. 9mms have no stopping power whatsoever. That’s why it’s a kid’s gun.


  42. Goober July 30, 2013 at 22:50 #

    It isn’t, and anyone suggesting it is ignorant. Plain and simple.


  43. mikaelakayne July 30, 2013 at 23:58 #

    Am I allowed to lethally shoot (9 shots!) someone that far away who wields a knife? Why are the rules different for police officers? Especially when police officers have non-lethal alternatives in this situation. The kid is definitely a thug, but two wrongs don’t make a right.


  44. The Cul-De-Sac Hero (@TheCulDeSacHero) July 31, 2013 at 01:04 #

    If he were as fiscally conservative as he should be, we’d all be much better.

    Do you understand the importance of rights? Do you understand that police do not have the right to violate them? Do you understand that they have the right to use force when threatened? Do you see, that although one case involves a person dying, that the other is actually more important to the country as a whole?

    Whether or not this cop went too far, and 9 shots sounds excessive, he was in the situation and had the right to use force. Police are not paid to get stabbed. Yes, they have to put themselves in harms way, but, they do not have to ignore their personal safety in order to protect the public.

    The inquiry will likely drag this guy out into the street and hang him to placate the public anger. We need inquiries in cases like this, but, the only question is whether the office was using force rightfully. You can’t say that he only should have used 5 or 3 shots. The decision was his. The fact that another officer thought that a Taser was necessary after the shooting was done should tell you that there could still have been a credible threat. There is always the possibility that the victim could still have a hidden gun or even a bomb. Sound far fetched? Well probably, but, they cannot and should not take that chance.


  45. Ashlyn July 31, 2013 at 01:30 #

    Why are they required to use ammunition that doesn’t do what they need it to?


  46. Tuesday July 31, 2013 at 01:52 #

    Some would say you’re not even allowed to shoot someone who is straddling you on the pavement, beating your head against the ground.


  47. Richard Blaine July 31, 2013 at 01:53 #

    Some years ago, I started on the side of the cops and had to be shown evidence of wrong doing to side with the perp. Given the number of incidents of what I consider blatant disregard for the law on the part of law enforcement, and the overwhelming militarization of law enforcement – I now start with the assumption that they’re in the wrong until I can find proof to the contrary. I’ve been in training classes with cops. I’ve shot in competition with cops. I know a few and I generally like them but they’re people and like most people, they have emotions – which can cause mistakes. In this case – I don’t have enough information to say the cops did the right thing or not – I suspect not because that’s my bias. If they (meaning each and every officer with a weapon in hand KNEW that the car was empty, and they had sufficient distance and cover, then they screwed the pooch. It’s possible that one officer believed someone was at sufficient risk to take the shot. It seems more likely to me, that it was a case of emotional overload.

    Now, when your dealing with someone with a knife – the rule is 21 feet. If a knife wielder is within that range, you are in danger of gave bodily harm. You will find most reputable trainers use that number or something close to it. It’s been tested to death (literally, in some cases). That assumes open ground. If the knife wielder has to maneuver though a door – it buys you a lot of reaction time, assuming you know he’s coming. In open ground 21 feet feels like a long distance, but we’re talking seconds, and reaction is always slower than action. Also, even with a .45 you can’t count on a two shots or even 8, to the heart to stop the knife wielder from slicing you death, just before he bleeds out internally.

    There’s nothing wrong with 9mm the measured bullet expansion for common defense rounds is similar to the .45 (which is my personal preference). I’ve researched the whole “size” thing to death – accuracy and training are the significant factors. The reality is, any round hand gun or rifle can fail to stop someone and will if you miss. Many departments train their officers to empty the magazine if they shoot at all – not everyone follows that advice. If you keep shooting after the threat is ended – it gets fuzzy and might be considered murder (unless your a cop – if the first shot was justified, the rest don’t really matter). In a typical gunfight the number of shots fired is usually much higher than most people would assume. There are recorded instances of over 30 rounds fired with no hits – NYPD has a very bad hit rate, (from memory so, take this with a grain/pound of salt – they miss something like 85% of the time.) When asked how many round where fired, most shooters underestimate by a significant margin. This becomes a much more significant problem when there are multiple shooters – that first shot can and does trigger a panic response in others, and they too open fire, happens fairly often.


  48. Marlo Rocci July 31, 2013 at 02:09 #

    NATO shoved the 9mm down our throats in the 1980’s and police departments adopted them because the military contracts made the guns cheaper.


  49. Gordon Wadsworth July 31, 2013 at 03:25 #

    This isn’t a particularly compelling argument. Refusal to follow an officer’s instruction doesn’t validate (excessive) use of lethal force. If an officer tells me to take a breathalyzer test and I refuse does that validate such force?

    Non compliance with an officer’s demands in and of itself is irrelevant with respect to the use of this kind of force. In order to validate the use of such force either the life of an officer or the life or someone else needs to be in immediate danger, and clearly neither of these conditions had been met according to the evidence.

    I couldn’t get away with shooting someone like that and calling it self defense, I’d be rightfully convicted of murder. Are the police now above the law? To say nothing of the fact that discharging a weapon like that in a crowded city without an extremely pressing reason is madness.

    This is clearly indefensible behavior on the part of the police, and I don’t think it’s healthy to support them just because of some kind of dudley doright mythos cachet they haven’t yet fully spent.

    In my opinion these cops need to burn for this.


  50. Gem (@Gemmarees) July 31, 2013 at 06:28 #

    Not on board with this one. Not in the least.

    My dad was a cop (now retired) – and there’s no way I’d want him to be killed (or even injured) in the line of duty. But the fact is, he chose to become a cop and being a cop is sometimes dangerous.

    When you give any human being the right, in law, to take life or liberty from another human being, you absolutely MUST ensure that the taking of life or liberty is the very last resort. A guy inside a car, holding a knife, calling a whole fuckload of armed cops “pussies”? That’s not a last resort. That’s not an imminent threat. Holy fuck, that’s not even a threat, to someone with a gun leveled on the guy. There are several other courses of action that were available to these officers. They should have taken one. THEN they’d be heroes, and not just assholes with guns who got riles when they were called pussies, and took a life because it was too close to tea break.

    Fuck every single one of those murdering motherfuckers.

    And yes, it absolutely is about time for cameras and sound recordings to be taken 24/7 by -every- cop. If “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” pertains to citizens (which it doesn’t but hey, people have been using all sorts of whacky reasoning for their cowardice and apathy since Snowden) – then it sure as fuck pertains to cops.


  51. Mr. Milker July 31, 2013 at 06:48 #

    An interesting video to watch (pretty drastic, so be warned), to get an idea what a person with a knife can do.
    One guy with a knife vs. 5 cops with guns. Skip to about 7:20 for the action.


  52. Reggie July 31, 2013 at 06:58 #

    This could also be a case of excited delirium. It’s hard to turn off the violence switch in a situation like this.

    Sure there were 23 cops surrounding the street car, how many of them needed to be stabbed before you would endorse using lethal force Free?


  53. wdodman July 31, 2013 at 06:59 #

    Goober, it was not just an order, it was an order to drop a lethal weapon.


  54. Reggie July 31, 2013 at 07:01 #

    ‘Suicide by cop” … At least he didn’t fail at that!


  55. Reggie July 31, 2013 at 07:16 #

    What tripe! Refusing to take a breathalyser is JUST like refusing to drop a lethal weapon.


  56. Gem (@Gemmarees) July 31, 2013 at 07:41 #

    To wit:


    “Want to avoid getting shot by the police?” – Don’t look suspicious!

    Maybe we should just trust the word of cops. I mean. It’s not like any of them have ever tasered an autistic, naked 11 year-old girl who was found wandering disoriented down a highway in the middle of the night, right?


    “Want to avoid getting tasered by police?” – Don’t be a lost, scared, naked child!

    Maybe you’re a dog owner. Maybe you have a MINIATURE DASCHUND. Maybe the cops need to come to your house to serve a warrant, because that speeding fine went to your old address and now you need to go to court…


    Or hey, maybe the police are at your house to tell you your son was just murdered:


    “Want to avoid your dog getting killed by police?” – Don’t have a dog!

    Why – it’s all very intuitive when you put it like that! “Don’t want to get shot by police? – Don;’t do anything!”

    Watch the watchers.

    But not too hard, or you could get 4-15 years in jail:



  57. Exfernal July 31, 2013 at 10:06 #

    If there is no rush to resolve the situation immediately, then why not choose a tool better suited to the task?


  58. Spaniard July 31, 2013 at 11:37 #

    Probably that kid was not in his mind.
    With a narcotic dart would be enough.


  59. Liz July 31, 2013 at 13:16 #

    “why would I not be more suspicious of the cops than the nutbar?”

    If you’d rather hand out with nutbars than cops, there are plenty of places to hang around that have lots of nutbars and few or no cops. Just start driving, when you get to the place where there are bars on all the windows, you’ve arrived.


  60. freetofish July 31, 2013 at 14:31 #

    Just to give a bit more perspective


    Read that link. Happened yesterday in Montreal. 72 year old guy barricaded himself in his house with a gun. Even shot at the cops, grazing one of them in the foot.

    Stand-off ends after someone from the tactical response squad shot him with a RUBBER non lethal round. End of story, guy is arrested, alive and unharmed.

    So, if a well trained police squad can end a standoff with an armed gunman with non-lethal force, why again did that cop in Toronto need to fire 9 bullets from close range at a kid with a pocket knife?


  61. Goober July 31, 2013 at 14:41 #

    But having a lethal weapon is not illegal. Refusing to follow instructions to drop one is a misdemeanor.

    Misdemeanor does not equal lethal force.


  62. Goober July 31, 2013 at 14:44 #

    Give me and the rest of us a break. There is nothing wrong with the 9mm. Its a pistol round. Pistol rounds are inherently weak. Even your mythical 45is a poodle popper.


  63. Liz July 31, 2013 at 15:00 #

    That’s true freetofish, but the annals of law enforcement history are also filled with people who were able to not only survive, but continue to inflict injury and deaths on law enforcement officials even after several multiple traumatic gunshot wounds…sometimes due to drugs, sometimes nothing but adrenaline and will.

    Not saying that necessarily applied in this particular case, but true perspective requires the big picture.


  64. Gem (@Gemmarees) July 31, 2013 at 15:14 #

    I agree that true perspective requires the big picture. It’s a shame that you’re taking cop myth and calling it that though. It’s not okay for a cop to be judge, jury and executioner. Ever, in my opinion, but then the armed cops here (UK) are in specialised units, not every man or women who ever donned a badge.

    There are good people in the police force. There are bad people too. Really fucking bad. They’re not superhuman just because they wear a badge, and they shouldn’t be afforded more trust to kill than anyone else.


  65. Liz July 31, 2013 at 15:27 #

    Cop myth? Seriously? Try working a few months in the ER, preferably a major city. I saw a case where a man was able to kill another person with his bare hands, with a hatchet buried in his cranium (yes, it severed the skull).


  66. Liz July 31, 2013 at 15:35 #

    Just thinking further…he might have had a hammer and not just his fists. Starts to run together.


  67. whitebread July 31, 2013 at 15:44 #

    JudgyBitch – I think from your position of white housewife privilege you may be feeling some ingroup sympathy that the ostensible protectors of that privilege really do not deserve. Remember “First they came for the X and I was not X so I did not object…?” These days ex post facto we can all generally find evidence for what we are seeking to prove, but my gut tells me that some police are no longer my friends and that the militarizing trend many see in their behavior needs more scrutiny, not more sympathy. Your friend Maggie McNeill has an old axe to grind in this area, but nonetheless she can probably point you to some counterpoint to your vanilla ‘cops are my heroes’ perspective.


  68. Exfernal July 31, 2013 at 15:54 #

    A commendable example of subduing a dangerous individual armed with a handgun.


  69. Anaphylactic July 31, 2013 at 16:03 #

    you are wrong on this one – he clearly posed no real threat to policemen so shooting was just the result of their triggerhappiness. Would you assess it in the same way, if you knew that kid was mentally challenged? I suppose not…

    Problem with american police is that they are next to never charged forabuse of power… And name of your article is bullshit – I can give you dozen of examples of police shooting completely innocent people (and number of cases where policemen abusing power are actually sent to jail could be counted on blind butcher’s fingers)


  70. Maureen from Canada July 31, 2013 at 16:33 #

    Shoot to wound is impossible unless you are trained as a sniper. Police officers are not and nor would it be possible to train them to that standard (unless we are prepared to have them in training for a LOONNNNNGGGG time initially and then retraining to maintain their skills That would drive up costs. Not going to happen – police officers are trained to shoot to the largest part of the body – the torso – unfortunately it is also the part where the most damage will be done.

    Again – the easier solution is to NOT wield a knife around on public transit AND to drop the knife when confronted by 9 police officers with guns drawn.


  71. feeriker July 31, 2013 at 16:53 #

    You ARE being sarcastic here, right?


  72. James Versluis July 31, 2013 at 17:03 #

    Isn’t wearing that stupidly fashionable of a hat grounds for getting shot?


  73. freetofish July 31, 2013 at 18:06 #

    Liz, he had a pocket knife. Not a machete or gun or something truly lethal. What that link shows is that when done properly, pretty much any situation can be handled with none lethal force. The fact they tazed him AFTER they shot him 9 times showed they had a non lethal alternative at hand but the one cop who did all the shooting decided, meh fuck that, I’ll just blow this kid away instead.


  74. Astrokid MHRA July 31, 2013 at 19:14 #

    Yours is a completely meaningless reply. You stripped the surrounding context and made it into a black-and-white “nutbars vs cops”. Good job.


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