I have never fired a weapon in my life. I have never gone to firearms training, tactical training, or strategic training either for the military or police…because I am NOT military or police. BUT I watch lots of procedural police shows.
I was watching one where the Texas Ranger was in the house of his paramour who happened to be a bad guy. Her cohorts broke down the door and started shooting with their fully automatic weapons. In the blink of an eye, our hero tips back the couch he was on to give him cover. I HAVE had upholstery training. Couches, the good ones, have oak frames. They have springs wired together for support, hog hair to keep the springs from damaging the filling, and cotton batting for comfort. The cheap couches have pine frames, springs of less tensile strength, and foam rubber for comfort. You can tip a good couch but only if you are strong and have help because oak is heavy. The high tensile strength of the springs might serve to deflect bullets, but the batting and the hog hair would not. Since our hero tipped the couch himself, we must assume it was a cheaper model. (After all, if you’re going to have to do more than one take on the fight scene, you don’t want to use an expensive couch!) The pine frame would be useless against most bullets, and we know that the manufacturers will not use much wood in their creations. They may use 3/4 -inch plywood to support the springs.
Our poor hero, hiding behind fluff and pine, should be Swiss Cheese. Our bad guys are standing in the doorway firing fully automatic weapons and hitting the wall behind the couch, the end tables, the lamps. They must have gone to the Storm Trooper Training Facility. With the couch on its back, one strafing from arm to arm of the couch and close to the floor would take him out.
The next thing I noticed was that the intruders didn’t intrude. They broke down the door and started firing willy nilly into the living room. Then they stopped firing so our hero could get some shots in with his little handgun. It was a cute little silver deal and looked like it could shoot water or light your cigarette. So he’s firing over the back of the couch without looking at his target because, well, “Don’t stick your head up to see your opponents if they are shooting automatic weapons at you!” He has no idea where his bullets are going. But he knows that when he fires, they don’t. He doesn’t use this break in their attack to find a better hiding place. Both intruders had automatic weapons–both firing simultaneously. They couldn’t see their target, but they knew he was behind the couch. They also knew he was the only target in the apartment that was armed. They didn’t come into the apartment! The door is a bottleneck. It makes them stationary targets. If one had put down suppressing fire (into the couch) the other could have entered and advanced on the good guy. Then he could fire from a different angle to distract the good guy while his partner entered the room to flank him.
Of course, if the good guy had moved from behind the couch to a new position, he could have picked them off as they came into the room because they’d still be shooting at the couch. I’m shaking my head.
The detective and his partner are running down a guy who was instrumental in a murder and they know he’s the only one that can tell them who the mastermind behind the murder is. They chase him into an open space and lo and behold, there are 8-10 other cops there, weapons drawn. “Give it up! You got NOWHERE to go! You’re surrounded!”
Indeed, he is standing in a circle of cops…a circle. None of them has taken cover. Our intrepid detective sees the panic in his target’s eyes turn to determination. He is going to commit suicide by cop. The detective is telling him to get on his knees and the guy does not comply. He walks toward him, trying to talk him out of his decision, and at one point tells the other officers to lower their weapons. They are lowered but not holstered as is protocol. The target slowly moves his hand from above his head to his waistband where his weapon is. WE do not know if he’s going to drop the weapon or draw on the officers. Those officers behind him do not have the closed-captioned monitor to observe his actions, they just see him dropping one hand.
Among the first rules you would learn in firearms safety is to not only pay attention to your target but to scope out what is beyond your target. You cannot control the bullet after it leaves your gun. Remember that the target is in a circle of cops? So even though those cops behind the target cannot see what he’s doing, they fire on the suspect. If the suspect had gone down quickly instead of acting, the 2nd and 3rd bullets would have hit our detective and his partner. Because he is acting, even though he has been hit in the lung, the liver, and the heart, he remains standing and slowly crumples to his back. You can see that the bullets have traveled through and through his torso because he has both entry and exit wounds. Where did the bullets go after they pierced him? Into the cops on the other side of the circle? Oops
While the detective was slowly walking toward our suspect and talking him down, why wasn’t another cop walking up behind him to subdue him while the suspect was distracted? Oh, because if the suspect had gone for the gun, the detective would have fired and gotten both the officer and the suspect.
In a press defense in basketball, you get two people to stop the progress of the offensive player by trapping him in a corner or near the side of the court. If the offensive player with the ball is in center court, you have to put three people on him to stop him. In a situation where our suspect was in the center of an area, he has too many options. You want to “herd” him to a point where the only option is to surrender, you put him up against a wall or a corner.
Of course, every cop that faces this situation knows that if you speak in logical terms, the suspect will acknowledge your wisdom and make a rational decision. It’s like arguing with your toddler on the benefits of sleep and expecting him to bow to your deductions and accept your conclusion. HA! The detectives all start with, “You don’t want to do this! We can work something out…” And every time… they go for the gun and either aim it at the police or blow their brains out. OF COURSE, THEY WANT TO DO THIS! It’s the easy, quick answer.
You have to make an emotional appeal. The suspect is in full-on emotional panic. Logic will have NO effect. “How do you think your loved ones would prefer you–dead or alive? Do you think the outcome is hopeless? If I could give you an alternative, would you at least consider it? Officer Smith, could you come up and relieve our suspect of his gun, please? The rest of the officers, make sure there is nobody behind the suspect so if shots need to be fired, there are no collateral damages. I promise you will not be hurt if you follow my suggestions.”
It doesn’t make good TV or Movies, but it might in real life. Any police officers out there, please look at this and see if I’ve misjudged the situation. If I have, PLEASE enlighten me!
The coolest arrest I’ve ever seen was when this kid was robbing a fast food joint. He and his partner tied up the manager and the rest of the crew and they walked out into the parking lot. Apparently, my call to the police had been heeded and they came in without lights and siren and parked away from the building, blocking the exits. That way, no new customers came in and our thieves would not get out easily. They were unaware of the circumstances outside the building. One of the officers was behind the dumpster where the thieves had parked their car, and one was stationed at the freezer door. The kids sauntered out of the building, and the policeman behind the door walked up behind them with his gun in one kid’s back and his finger to the other’s back, and said quietly in his deep, deep voice, “You are under arrest.” One of them peed his pants. “Now boys, get down on your knees and lace your fingers behind your head.” The officer’s partner revealed himself, weapon leveled, and moved toward the boys. The backup police helped gather them up and read them their rights and put them in the car. They took the money as evidence. Then the one with the deep voice went in and made sure the manager and the crew were ok, and he stayed to ask questions.