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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, May 19th, 2017

I’m sure a lot of the public who saw the acquittal this week of Betty Jo Shelby, the Tulsa police officer charged with Manslaughter in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, said to themselves “Gosh, Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

Well, at the moment, I am in Kansas, teaching a MAG-40 armed citizens rules of engagement class at the superb Thunderbird Firearms Academy in Wichita.  One of the students came in this morning and said, “It looks as if the defense lawyers in that Tulsa case did exactly what you told us our lawyers should do if we were ever charged after a self-defense shooting.”

No kiddin’.  I can’t blame those folks who were puzzled by the acquittal in “the shooting of an unarmed black man.” They live in a world where the media doesn’t bother to tell anyone the difference between murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide.

Officer Shelby had observed erratic behavior from a large man who appeared to her to the under the influence of PCP.  This would later be supported by evidence: Crutcher had PCP within his body, and a quantity of it in his car.  After repeatedly ignoring lawful commands, he suddenly reached to the open window of his car, as if for a weapon.  It was enough to cause the male officer present to fire his TASER at Crutcher, and enough to cause Shelby to fire the single pistol shot that killed him.

The public was told that, in this video-taped encounter, Crutcher had his hands up.  At one point he did, but when he was shot, he was reaching as if for a weapon inside the car, with no earthly reason to do so unless he was trying to access a weapon to kill a cop.  The public was told that the window was closed, but by the opening of trial, even the prosecution had to admit that no, it was open.

Talking heads who followed the trial wailed that the defense was foolish to put the defendant on the witness stand, because that just isn’t done.  BS.  In a defensive shooting, what it comes down to is why did she shoot him?  There was only one person who could answer that – and she did.

The defense called material witnesses who confirmed that in police training, Officer Shelby had learned how quickly someone could snatch up a gun and kill a cop with it.  It is supposed to be a jury of one’s peers.  A peer would know what the defendant knew.  Now the jury knew it, too.

The public was told that corrupt investigators had whitewashed Shelby.  That allegation is very decisively refuted, here:

There turned out to be no gun in Crutcher’s car, but in such cases, the law has never demanded that there be one.  All the law demands is that, within the totality of the circumstances, the defendant reasonably perceived that she and her brother officer were in danger of death or great bodily harm (i.e., crippling injury).  In shorthand, “You don’t have to be right, you have to be reasonable.” The defense team got that across to the jury.

Congratulations to Attorney Shannon MacMurray and the rest of Betty Shelby’s defense team. From everything I’ve seen about the case, they did Justice.

37 Responses to “THE VERDICT IN TULSA”

  1. Roger Willco Says:


    Thanks for a well-written article. By “well-written” I mean that I could understand it, and not have my understanding obstructed by legalese.

    I’m glad to hear that someone can still get a fair trial in the USA, and justice can prevail. I keep feeling like America is becoming more and more like the rest of the world every day.

    My apologies to readers who don’t live in the USA, but you know what I mean. Where do people come to get away from corrupt or inept governments? They come here. Where do people come to better their lives? They come here. They come on foot, they come on rafts, they come legally and illegally, and they stay, even though our media says we are an unjust, oppressive society. They stay, even though our economy is not as good as it used to be. Even the descendants of slaves and victims of lynchings and Jim Crow laws stay right here. Very few go back to Africa. I don’t want America to be more like the world, I want the world to be more like America. The world should imitate our good traits, and avoid our bad traits.

  2. Two-gun Steve Says:

    I have witnessed vocationally the rehabilitation of literally hundreds of drug addicts. Experience does afford learning to recognize the effects of different substances. One can say that sometimes it is hard to tell to what degree derangement is due to a drug, and how much is due to personality or other factors. For Officer Shelby to conclude from observation, however, that Mr. Crutcher was dangerously loaded on PCP, seems totally reasonable. The overwhelming hormonal state that PCP typically induces surely justifies using lethal force to counter an apparent furtive move, rather than taking an incalculable risk in waiting to see if the partner’s Taser would be effective. My congratulations to Officer Shelby for the courage to take appropriate action.

  3. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    The jury foreman wrote a letter to the judge on behalf of the jury which has been entered into the record of the trial. It can be read here:

    or through this news article:

    In it the foreman says that they found that the officer acted within and consistent with her training, and was thus not guilty, but that:

    “The Jury, without knowledge of the guidelines learned through law enforcement training, believes that a Taser attempt to subdue Mr. Crutcher before he reached his vehicle could have saved his life and that potential scenario was seemingly an option available to her; however, there was no evidence presented that her extensive training allowed such an option. The Jury could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, conclude that she did anything outside of her duties and training as a police officer in that situation. This was critical to the verdict rendered. Because of this perceived option that she may have had, many on the Jury could never get comfortable with the concept of Betty Shelby being blameless for Mr. Crutcher’s death, but due to the lack of
    direct or even circumstantial evidence that she was acting outside of her training in the 30 feet prior to Mr. Crutcher reaching the window of that SUV, the Jury was forced by the rule of law to render a not guilty verdict.”

  4. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Let me add that in light of the current concerns about Taser use it might very well have been a violation of use of force guidelines, or at least questionable, before the shot was fired. While the subject hadn’t complied with instructions, he hadn’t physically resisted or demonstrated a threat and very little time had passed. Interesting nonetheless.

  5. Tawadc95 Says:

    Great news for law and order.

  6. Glenn Says:

    I heard it earlier today, and so far, it’s the best news of the week.

  7. Dennis Says:

    Liberal Dave,

    First, thank you for the link. Officer Shelby should be thankful that Jury Foreman was on that jury. I have little doubt that he/she was instrumental in keeping that jury focused and serious about their duties and obligation as jurors. It is sad though that today’s hyper-charged division between certain communities and the police compelled them to write such an explanation of their decision making process. The letter, to me, came across as an affirmation that they had followed the rule of law and carefully weighed the evidence, yet, felt compelled to find fault somewhere to placate those who would have preferred a lynching (and protect themselves from retaliation when returning to their own lives).

    The focus on the use/non-use of the Taser option is an example of the conundrum police officers face. It is just another tool/option in the “force continuum”. It was marketed as a “less than lethal” option, but actual field use proved that not to always be the case, and it also proved to not always incapacitate the target. You have two officers on scene, one stands ready with a Taser, one has, prudently, brought their sidearm to the ready. Despite repeated lawful commands which where ignored, the subject makes it back to his un-searched vehicle with unknown contents becoming readily accessible to him. At what point should the Taser been used? Would it have been wise for both officers to have deployed their Tasers, keeping their sidearms holstered, under the circumstances up to this point? At what point should the Taser have been used to attempt to disable him? When first refused to cooperate? When he started walking back to his vehicle (which was still running)? When he raised his hands? The fraction of a second later when his hands reached into the vehicle? Should they have waited until he drew his hands from the vehicle with a gun, at which point they would, at best, come in second on who shoots first, and first on who hits their target? Did not both officers fire a the same time in response to the same perception of threat?

    No sane person wants to take another’s life, that applies especially to police officers, who know that their actions will be reviewed, dissected, second guessed, and criticized by a large audience of Monday morning quarter-backs, who bring their own personal biases to the discussion. Their best hope is that they be judged by law, not emotion. Judged by what “they saw” through “their eyes” and their perception of events as they unfolded, and their reaction to those stimuli are found to be those of a reasonable and prudent person.

    We, as a “free” society, place a huge responsibility, and trust, on our law enforcement officers. We choose to place those willing to accept the challenge, to be the first line arbiter between those that are “reasonable and prudent” and those that refuse to follow the norms that we, as a society, demand. We train them in the law, the application of the law, and deescalation techniques. We teach them self defense, provide them with less than lethal tools, and deadly weapons because we, as a society, recognizes their are people that will just not follow the norms, sometimes to the point the officer has no other options short of use of force. Yet, the “reasonable and prudent” person, in his humanity, yearns for a world where no one has to die.

    I assure you, there is no person on the face of the earth that has dissected, gone over and second guessed the events and actions of that day, than Officer Shelby. I will not be surprised if she walks away from her career as a law enforcement officer. The recommendation by the jury, in the letter, was indicative of where we are in this country. Demand punishment of some kind to placate the emotion driven mob, even though they agree the one to be punished did nothing contrary to the law, all the while, pleading that the judge use his authority to protect their identities to protect themselves from that same mob.

    What’s the answer? I confess, I don’t know. I do know we are fast approaching an eventual anarchy. Officers are becoming less and less willing to enter into any situation they see as devolving into a violent confrontation, those who refuse to embrace a society based on law and (gasp) order, are becoming much bolder.

    One other point that I’m sure was in the back of the jurors minds. Officer Shelby had, up to the day these events unfolded, led an exemplary life. She did not get up and go to work that fateful day, planning on hunting down a black man and kill him. She would have never met him that day had he not gotten out of bed and knowingly ingested an illegal substance, fully aware that this substance would alter his mental functions and knowing that he had served time for these same actions in the past. She would not have met him had he not got into his vehicle and drove under the influence of this mind altering drug. His actions after he drove away, stopping in the middle of a street and abandoning a running, functional vehicle, led witnesses to be alarmed enough that more than one called for the police to deal with this person. Officer Shelby had no control over Mr. Crutcher’s actions or his refusal to accept any directions from her. Like it or not, he was controlling what was transpiring. He was controlling his own fate.

    I apologize for my ramblings. I’m getting old, frustrated, and more and more resigning myself to the futility of our present culture.

  8. .45StayAlive Says:


  9. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    For anyone who’s interested, the Tulsa Police use of force policy can be found in part 31-101A here:

    I rather suspect — Mas and Dennis can verify or deny — that policy is not particularly different that thousands of others across the nation.

    In addition to the “should have used her Taser” theme raised by the jury, there is also some buzz out there complaining that the Tulsa policy allowed the use of deadly force prior to seeing a weapon. For anyone looking for that in the policy linked above, it’s mainly in the definition of “Immediate Threat” which says in pertinent part, “The threat is not limited to being instantaneous. A person may pose an immediate threat even if they are not at that moment
    pointing a weapon at the officers or others.” I’ll again defer to Mas as the SD expert, but I don’t think that’s different from the general legal standard on SD for both civilians and LEOs or that applied in virtually every LE department around the country.

    Before someone starts questioning my liberal credentials for sounding like I’m defending the status quo, let me just note that I believe that we must fully and objectively understand the facts and the law before taking any position. Only then can we decide whether something needs to be done and, if so, what.

    From a non-LEO and somewhat emotional point of view it seems to me that, probably because of the difference in knowledge between the average citizen and a LEO, that it is too easy to get yourself shot through what to an untrained citizen is seen as innocuous conduct but to a LEO is seen as threatening.

    (I don’t mean to refer to any specific situation in what I’m about to say.) When a kid is outside with a toy gun and the police come up and order “drop the gun” just how unnatural is it for the kid to instead raise the gun with the intention of saying “look, it’s not a gun, it’s a toy”? And why should he think that his every twitch of motion was lethally critical when he had had it pounded into his head again and again that police officers are his friend. Why would his friend shoot him just for trying to show him that the thing he was holding is a toy? The kid didn’t even violate the instructions in his mind: He didn’t have a gun to drop. Some might respond that kids shouldn’t be allowed to be outside with toy guns, but I’d bet that some of you think that it’s objectionable political correctness to sic child welfare workers on parents who let their young children walk unaccompanied to school or to the park a few blocks from home. But short of strip-searching those kids every time they leave the house, it’s entirely possible for one of them to slip a toy gun into their book bag before leaving the house. And teaching them that officer friendly has to be instantly and exactly obeyed? Sure, you may get across, “Now sweetie if you meet a police officer you do what he tells you to do.” (and hope that the officer that sweetie meets isn’t a sex offender with a fake badge or uniform), but short of teaching kids that police officers are not their friends and may kill them if they are not instantly and exactly obeyed then kids are not going to know what to do to avoid being shot. And it doesn’t have to be a toy gun. The Tulsa case shows that there doesn’t even have to be a gun at all. How do you teach that to kids? Or intellectually or emotionally impaired or aged adults? Or folks whose English skills aren’t very good? Or deaf people who can’t hear the commands or mobility impaired people who can’t instantly comply? Or, for that matter, to ordinary citizens?

  10. Dennis Says:

    I would like to share the following with everyone.

  11. Roger in NC Says:

    So, so glad that Officer Shelby can rest easily. This could have gone very wrong.

  12. Kendahl Says:

    Several years ago, where I live, a teenager got high on “wet”, which contains PCP, and broke into a house. Responding police officers confronted him there and shot him when he lunged at them with a knife from the kitchen. The verdict in the Shelby case implies that the officers would have been justified in opening fire as soon as they saw the knife in his hand or when he reached into a drawer.

    More recently, several officers confronted a suspect in the attempted robbery of a convenience store. The suspect claimed to be armed and repeatedly reached toward his waistband but never produced a firearm. After failing to elicit more than a warning, he turned and made the same gestures toward other officers. One of the first ones, no longer able to see the suspect’s hands, feared that, this time, he really was going for a gun and shot him. The suspect turned out to be unarmed which meant the situation was suicide by cop rather than attempted murder. What the officer forgot in the heat of the moment was that his partners, for whose safety he feared, were able to see that the suspect’s hands still were empty. The shooting was ruled justifiable but the officer resigned after a meeting with the police chief.

  13. Dennis Says:

    Liberal Dave,

    You’re correct, basically the same,with the exceptions of state law specific areas (such as fleeing felon/escaping arrest).

    I did note also, the administrative out that being in compliance with state law on use of deadly force doesn’t mean no departmental discipline, which is also the norm.

  14. Debby rich Says:

    I am sorry this may not be the area to post this, I am not sure. First of all
    I am glad that the women cop got off. I believed her.
    Now I heard from Rayan this week. The speaker of the house.The house has
    passed a bill that I think is awful. It will make it a death penatly for us to
    shot at a police officer. It is called the thin blue line, I think. Now I have no
    problem with most first responders like fire and emt’s. But I do have a major
    problem with a swat team kicking down my front door. To me that is
    breaking and entering. I saw it on the news last week in Trenton, NJ where
    a swat team kicked in a door of a neighbors house and they were trying to
    get a really bad guy out of another house.I am sorry but there are other ways
    to do there so called duty.
    Please correct me if I am wrong

  15. Dennis Says:

    Well, so much for the dedicated jury deliberations.

    If true (I have my doubts, like the NYT’s and WP, unidentified anonymous source),
    the torture of six hours of deliberation with no food, broke the will of any holdouts leaning towards a guilty verdict. (the author, Amber Randall, is a “Social Justice” reporter for the “Daily Caller”)

  16. Jack Says:

    I am very glad to see that Officer Shelby was acquitted. In my opinion charges were brought against her due to political motivation and this unfortunately seems to be the norm these days. Gone are the days of common sense prosecutors who look at the facts and go from their they operate on the public outcries which is a very dangerous thing for all self defenders and police officers in this country.

  17. MichaelJT Says:

    I’m going to ask this with no agenda and knowing full well how it will be perceived in this hyper PC atmosphere we live in these days.

    I note that the male officer chose to use his Tazer while the female pulled her weapon and fired. Could the difference in choices be because she felt more threatened by being female and thus chose deadly force?

    There is a video out there that shows a very large (I mean one big dude) cop, a sergeant, subduing a suspect and putting him into cuffs. He is on top of the suspect as they lay on the ground and the suspect very clearly is fully under control. I realize things can change in a heartbeat, but to me it looked like the suspect was fully incapacitated, and the look on his face says he agrees.

    There is a female cop literally dancing around in front of the two, pointing her weapon with both hands as it waves around covering both the cop and suspect with the muzzle. At that point the weapon discharges and the bullet hits the ground right in front of the two men on the ground, you can see the concrete explode. Luckily the ricochet missed everybody but the look the male cop gives the female cop should have killed her on the spot. Her look is the very definition of chagrin.

    Again, I know this is totally un PC, but has anyone ever looked at the results of female cop involved incidents and how they compare to what happens when just men are involved? I’m wondering if being female causes cops to escalate the threat in their minds knowing they are more vulnerable.

    I can anticipate how this will be received, but human physiology is a fact and not subject to PC.

  18. Dennis Says:

    Debby rich,

    This may be a shock for you, but most states already have the death penalty for murder of a police officer in the line of duty.

    I’m not aware of the Ryan bill you speak of, but if so, it would have to be a federal law making it possible for federal prosecution.

    Take comfort in the fact that, to my knowledge, no jurisdiction has ever sought the death penalty for killing a police officer when mitigating circumstances such as you mentioned were present, if you are speaking of officers kicking in your door by mistake and unannounced.

    There are circumstances other than an execution of a warrant, where law enforcement can, in life threatening situations, enter your home without your permission. In these situations they should attempt, as loudly as possible, their need to enter, and allow as much time for response as feasible, based on the circumstances. In a situation such as this, if your response is “I haven’t done anything wrong” and you make the decision not to respond and shoot an officer entering, you are going to need a very good lawyer.

    Under these circumstances, a defense of “I don’t like police, I knew I had done nothing wrong, I ignored them, they came in anyway, so I shot ’em” won’t impress a jury. This has always been true, even before Ryan passed a bill saying you can’t shoot police without worrying about the death penalty.

  19. Jim Abraham Says:


    You raise an interesting point. Let’s hope that others with more familiarity with this sort of scenario than either of us will weigh in.

  20. Dave (the Liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    Dennis, as is often the case our opinions are not all that far apart. My one question for you as a LEO is this: I know you can’t see into the mind of the officers on the scene, but why do you think that they had their weapons out? The suspect had been approached because his car was stalled in the middle of the road and because he seemed intoxicated, perhaps on PCP. And he wasn’t compliant, but why deploy weapons before he made any aggressive move at all?

    @Debby rich: While I think you and I are philosophically on the same side of this divide and while I generally make it a practice not to criticize or comment upon posters’ spelling or grammar (because but-for-the-grace-of-FSM-go-I), your post with references to “Speaker Rayan [sic]”, “death penatly for us to shot [sic] at a police officer”, and “other ways to do there [sic] so called duty” do our cause little good. The issue to which you refer is the question of which force, including deadly force, can be used to defend against an illegal use of force by a law enforcement officer. I would suggest to you that as a practical matter that at the very, VERY best that to concern yourself over that issue is suicidal.

    Yes, there are circumstances in which it is legal to use force to protect yourself against physical official oppression and, indeed, there may even be moves afoot to reduce those circumstances, but the point is moot unless you are prepared to die for your principles. Perhaps you are, and if that’s your goal more power to you and I’ll be one of the ones honoring you as a martyr and hero at your funeral — _if_ you’re right in the circumstances in which you choose to seek martyrdom. Perhaps your sacrifice will prove to be an inspiration to a movement to seek change; again, if so more power to you and good luck with that. But the reality is that the circumstances will probably be sufficiently ambiguous that you’re not a martyr but just another corpse. Yeah, some cops may be fired or go to jail, but you’ll be rotting in a grave. On the give-a-man-a-fish principle, I’d much rather have you alive and talking about the problems than dead and forgotten, even with your bad spelling and grammar reducing the impact of your message, but it’s your call.

  21. Vermonter Says:

    I’m going to present a different view of Debby’s post. You seem to think she’s referring to knowingly shooting at a police office. My take is different. All of us on here are gun owners, and most of us have at least considered the possibility of a home invasion type scenario. I suspect most of us think along the lines of- ” I’ll grab my gun and deal with it.” (And we all have one on our person or within arm’s reach, right?) Now, I have read that some home invasion type criminals will don police gear and shout “Police, get down on the floor,” or similar commands as they smash through the door in imitation of a police swat team, to confuse home owners.
    Okay, you’re sitting in your easy chair,(or worse, on the toilet), and the door crashes in, people in swat gear swarm in shouting commands. What do you do? Do you assume it’s an actual, incompetent swat team? Or the much more statistically likely actual home invasion using police tactics? It’s happening NOW! You must decide NOW! This is a dynamic entry, not one where they stop at the doorway and you talk across the room. You think, “home invasion” and start shooting. Oops. Bad guess. It’s real cops. You’re in deep trouble. Even if you missed, under the proposed law, it would be the death penalty for shooting AT an officer.
    Same scenario. This time you think, “Cops! What the heck do they want?” You don’t grab your gun. You put your hands up. Oops again. This time it’s real home invaders and now your at their mercy.
    In a perfect scenario the event would happen while you were in bed behind your locked steel bed room door. (We all have one, right? Grin.) You’d have time to call the station and see if there is a raid team out. In the real world, not so likely.
    This is a seemingly unsolvable problem. If police never, ever, knocked down the wrong door on a no-knock warrant, the problem would disappear. Not likely to happen is this imperfect world. That’s why for so many of us there’s a deep emotional response whenever we read of a raid at the wrong location. Not only the “If not for the grace of God” feeling, but the uncertainty it creates in the mind in dealing with a real home invasion.
    I’ve been reading Mas since 1986. In all his writings that I’ve read, I’ve never seen this scenario mentioned, much less discussed. Nor have I seen it in any other trainer/writers that I’ve read. I have to assume that it is indeed an unsolvable problem, so let’s not talk about it. Which is not terribly productive in terms of preparing people to deal with it if they get unlucky. But then, neither is making snide remarks about people’s grammar.

  22. Dennis Says:

    Liberal Dave,

    To be truthful, I had not paid real close attention to this case until this verdict was announced and the renewed media attention. I found the following version of the story to refresh my memory as to the chain of events.

    Evidently, Officer Shelby, upon arrival to the scene of the running SUV abandoned in the middle of the street, did not connect the vehicle to Crutcher until she observed him approaching her and the vehicle. She did not immediately draw her sidearm, rather attempted to ascertain verbally if the car belonged to him. His response was to “mumble to himself”, seemingly ignoring her attempts to engage him in conversation, and began reaching into his pockets. Repeated attempts were made to made to get Mr. Crutcher to pay attention to Officer Shelby’s questions and comply to her instructions with no coherent response from him other than his removing his hands from his pockets, removing his hands from his pockets and walking towards the driver’s door against her repeated verbal commands to stop. This is the point where Officer Shelby draws her weapon and the second officer arrives on the scene.

    Now, I will attempt to inject the officer’s point of view. It would have been seconds into the chain of events that the officer would have been aware that this person was either mentally unstable or under the influence of mind altering chemicals (even the helicopter pilot and observer could tell that Mr. Crutcher was not stable). The fact that a running, functioning vehicle had been abandoned in such a way as to be hazardous to the public was an indication that this subject had no regard for the danger his actions might pose to others. His refusal to obey or even acknowledge the commands by a uniformed officer, combined with the obvious differential of size and physical strength, the fact that he obviously was intent on re-entering the running vehicle that might have a weapon inside, or that he might have one on his person, would be reason enough for drawing her weapon. Consider also that even if his intent was to just drive away, Officer Shelby had an obligation to try to prevent that, due to her knowledge of his mental impairment and disregard for others (*even Islamist terrorist recognize that a 4000lb vehicle is a more effective killing machine and more dangerous than a gun to the public). And no, I’m not saying she would be justified in shooting him just for driving off impaired. I do believe her actions were justified prior to shooting and that her shooting him was justified based on her perception of the threat he posed to her and the other officer. Her perception does not have to perfect, just reasonable under the circumstances, not of her making, she found herself in.

    * This might become a topic in the future. With the increasing use by terrorists of vehicles to wreak death and carnage on innocent victims, will we be having future discussions on whether the cops should have waited to use deadly force until the first victim was run over, or should they have shot him before he put the vehicle in motion?

  23. Marty Hayes Says:

    When I took Taser Instructor Certification, I was trained that prior to deploying a Taser, there should be a lethal force back-up officer also present, so as to not rely upon the Taser alone to solve the problem She thought the deceased posed a lethal threat, so she fired. And the jury decided her actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

  24. vocalpatriot Says:

    Massad Ayoob, Your work is vital and your advice should be attended much more closely than it is. It is terrible that such cases can be such harrowing experiences for the fine officers that have the same rights as any other citizen. It needs to be common thinking that anyone who would infringe on another’s rights forfeit there own by default.
    In any case, thank you for your efforts to bolster security and thereby uphold out constitution.

  25. Roger Willco Says:


    I want to share an anecdote that seems to confirm your hunch about females being afraid may have a basis in fact.

    First, I want to confess, that I know I was much more afraid when I was younger than I am now. Modern American life made me a marshmallow. Boy Scouts, two years of football, a little ice hockey, chopping wood, military service, reading the Old Testament (See Judges chapter 19), reading “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” and reading war stories has toughened me up a bit.

    Now for the anecdote; I am a Rent-A-Cop at a small university. A few months ago I was working at a girls’ softball game. There is a nearby cemetery, where foul balls frequently end up. I retrieved two softballs from the cemetery, and gave them to two softball players. They were afraid to touch the balls because the balls had been in the cemetery. These girls were at least 18-years-old.

  26. Scott Says:

    To be honest Roger I’m 36 and I would still be slightly apprehensive about grabbing one of those two softballs.

  27. Kendahl Says:

    MichaelJT: The incident you described was a failure of training. Lack of trigger discipline and muzzle discipline and an inability to remain calm in a tense situation. Gender had nothing to do with it. Most nurses still are female and they hold it together in life and death situations. The problem is that training is expensive. To see what I mean, calculate the cost of providing one box of practice ammunition per month to every sworn officer in your local police department. That makes training the first thing to be cut back when budgets get tight.

  28. TRX Says:

    > he was reaching as if for a weapon inside the car, with no earthly reason to do so unless he was trying to access a weapon to kill a cop.

    You know better than that, Mas. That’s the kind of thing I’d expect to read in the newspaper, not from you.

    Faced with a couple of uniforms shouting at me, I might not obey commands either. And I might reach into my car. Because the little box with my hearing aids generally sits on the seat beside me, so as not to make an uncomfortable lump in my pocket.

    I’m not going to dispute whether it was a good shoot, but “unless he was trying to access a weapon to kill a cop” is ridiculous hyperbole.

  29. Dennis Says:

    Vermonter, Debby,

    As I said in response to Debby’s post, I am unfamiliar with this Ryan legislation. Does anyone have a link for the text/language of the bill?

    I would hope that the bill would be very narrow in what circumstances the death penalty would apply. Frankly, I think such legislation would have a tough time passing constitutional muster. What would you call such a crime, ” Attempted Capital Murder”?

    Having said that, I understand what the thinking would be behind such a bill, and why such a bill would be very narrow in the language of when it would apply. The increase in unprovoked deadly attacks/ambushes on uniformed police officers (and plain clothed officers that were known to be police officers by the attackers) is well documented. The attacks in Dallas last year resulted in five dead officers and as I recall, nine wounded. We also witnessed numerous attempted ambush murders of police all across the country. I would submit that addressing this is the reasoning behind the legislation and would also expect that the scenarios you have described would either not fit the elements of the law or be purposely excluded.

    While emotion sometimes plays into application of the law (witness prosecutor Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore) the prosecution still has to prove that a defendant’s actions were unreasonable and imprudent under the conditions present at the time the offense occurred.

    The scenarios you have described have happened and yes, they are untenable. Maybe a better law would be to make impersonating a police officer a capital crime? Make it a capital crime for a police officer to make an unintentional mistake that resulted in a death?

    How many times have the hypothetical scenarios you have described occurred? In most (not all) instances where home invasions carried out and the invaders were representing themselves as police officers, it was drug dealers robbing other drug dealers (seldom reported by media after this is ascertained later).

    How many unprovoked deadly force attacks have been carried out against police officers? In the last couple of years it has almost reached epidemic proportions, with no doubt as to the target or the intentions of the attackers.

    I personally don’t like “hate crime” laws. They require an intent based on personal biases and tend to be unequally applied because those tasked with enforcing them, too many times, allow their own personal biases to cloud their judgement. The law being discussed appears to be that type of law.

    Debby, I apologize if my prior response to your post seemed condescending. That was not my intent.

  30. Dennis Says:


    You say- “Faced with a couple of uniforms shouting at me, I might not obey commands either. And I might reach into my car. Because the little box with my hearing aids generally sits on the seat beside me, so as not to make an uncomfortable lump in my pocket.”

    We are all friends here. Seriously? You would ignore two uniformed officers “shouting” at you and not tell them you were hard of hearing and asking them if you could retrieve your hearing aids from your truck? If not, why not?

    I have suffered hearing loss from the cumulative effect of years of damage from loud noises. If I can’t understand someone attempting to communicate verbally with me, friend or stranger, I give them the courtesy of telling them why I don’t understand what they are saying. I don’t recall ever ignoring them, leaving them to wonder why I’m walking away.

    Since you injected a hypothetical into the discussion, consider this one. You have abandoned your vehicle, for whatever reason, when you return you find two cops at the scene who immediately start yelling at you in an attempt to prevent you from entering your vehicle. You assume, since you’ve done nothing wrong to justify this harassment, you ignore them, after all you’re hard of hearing, open the door to retrieve your hearing aids, your excuse for ignoring these officers, only to be facing a three time loser felon lying in the seat pointing a pistol at your head. The police who were shouting at you were aware he was in the vehicle, knew he was armed, because they had chased him to the point where he had barricaded himself inside. They were trying to protect you, but were unable to because you couldn’t hear or refused to listen.

    No offense meant, just trying to understand why. We know that Mr. Crutcher was on a mind altering drug that contributed to his response.

  31. Mas Says:

    Thanks for your last comment, Dennis. You said what I would have, and you said it better.

  32. Vermonter Says:


    ‘How many times have the hypothetical scenarios you have described occurred?
    ‘ That’s not relevant to the point. I presented that particular scenario because I thought that would give the starkest view of the homeowner conundrum. It appears to have confused the issue. You seem to be focusing on the use by drug dealer against drug dealer aspect. That doesn’t matter, if it happens at all it becomes part of the mindset of anyone who learns of it. I could have left the police impersonating angle out, without changing things materially. “Your wife is in the kitchen, you are in the living room, you hear a crash and your wife scream. You grab your gun and run into the kitchen…. How often it happens I have no idea, I’ve never seen any numbers on it. It does happen. I recall an elderly lady, I believe in Atlanta, whose door crashed in, she grabbed a gun, and was shot by police. It seems like a year or two back, there was an item about a wrong location raid where the homeowner shot a policeman and was being charged with murder. As you noted, there tend to be few details, and seldom any follow-up. (Ya know, if I’m gonna get into discussions like this, I need to start taking notes on everything I read during the year.)
    As a species we worry to the point of obsession about the rare extreme event. We buy our guns, we carry, read articles by Mas, many take training, all on the chance we might be victims of violent crime. As individuals, the odds are that it won’t happen to us. But it might, so we prepare, and call ourselves reasonable and prudent. In a nation of 320 million people, the chance of any of us being at the scene of a mass public shooting is even smaller. But I feel safe in saying that everyone on this forum has thought numerous times about what they would do in that situation. And we think we’re prudent to do so. It’s the nature of who we are. I think that anytime any of us look at someone else’s worry and say “how likely is it to happen?, we probably need to take a good look in the mirror.

  33. Two-gun Steve Says:

    Just an FYI: I am told that in la Costa Rica the law says you cannot make a phone call from a moving vehicle. You are supposedly allowed, however, to stop anywhere, anytime to make a call. Once I was behind someone in Arizona when they stopped ahead of me on a rural highway and made a long call. For a long time I thought the driver was probably driving drunk, until I learned about the alleged Costa Rican custom. I now think the driver was from a place with laws like Costa Rica, but I am still not sure he wasn’t impaired.

    Debby Rich, thanks for your comments. I hope that that as many peace officers as necessary get to know that you are law-abiding.

  34. Roger Willco Says:


    The situation you describe, where thugs impersonating a SWAT team break down a door and enter my home, is indeed a NIGHTMARE! I believe once they yelled that they are police, I would lie down spread eagle. I am conditioned to always obey the police. Even if I encountered true police abusing me, I would obey them, then report the incident later. So, back to the nightmare scenario. I would be lying there spread eagle, the goblins would enter my home, and I believe that would be my day to die. I only hope they would shoot me in the back of the head, and not torture me first.

    Ahh, because I am a dreamer, I have come up with a solution. However, it would require great wealth. I would have a normal, functioning home, but I wouldn’t live there. I would live in a specially built shelter 300 feet below my home, so the house is just a decoy. There would be a hidden passageway to stairs or an elevator going down to my bunker. I would install cameras so if someone found the entrance, I could see who they are. That way I could identify if they are a true SWAT team or imposters, and get ready to welcome them appropriately. Of course, if the crooks did a really good impersonation of a SWAT team, it would still be my day to die.


    Ha Ha, you must have grown up in a middle-class cocoon like I did! I know a man. His first job at age 12 was working in a funeral home. He learned to do every job there. Then, probably at age 18, he went into the Korean War, and spent six months in frequent combat. Now that is great preparation for being a soldier, working in a funeral home WHEN YOU ARE ONLY 12-YEARS-OLD!

  35. Dennis Says:


    I don’t disagree with a word you said. I’m a retired cop (once a cop, always a cop, it’s a hazard of the profession). I too, have ran the scenarios you described, through my mind, wondering how I would respond. Thankfully, all the entry teams I have seen have the word “POLICE” emblazoned all over their uniforms in large reflective letters. They all wear protective gear with ballistic vests and helmets (the Robo-Cop look). To my knowledge, all no-knock warrants are now carried out by these trained entry teams. Disregard the Hollywood depiction of the Detective in a nylon raid jacket coming through the door first.

    Yes, bad guys can buy this gear, but it is very expensive and highly unlikely. My response would be if they look like the entry team I described, I will meekly submit, even though I know I’m innocent as the driven snow, if I didn’t and resisted with deadly force, I would surely die. If they are dressed in black tactical fatigues (showing my age, BDU’s) and combat boots only, shouting “police-police” without a ballistic entry shield in the lead, I will respond with force until convinced I’m wrong in my assessment.

    Yes, I’ve considered these scenarios you’ve described. I will let you in on a secret. Police analyze the actions of other officers who encountered untenable situations, their response, the results, good or bad, in order to be better prepared should we encounter a similar situation. Seldom do we publicly criticize their actions unless they were egregious. We’ve “walked a mile in their shoes”. As you alluded “there but by the grace of God go I”.

  36. tc Says:

    The elderly woman killed by Atlanta police during a botched drug raid was named Kathryn Johnston. After they smashed in her door, she fired one shot at them, and missed. They fired 39 shots, five or six of which did not miss. Presumably, she thought they were home invasion robbers; that neighborhood was known for robberies and violent crime in general.

    The officers later admitted to falsifying evidence by planting marijuana at the scene after the shooting. They also confessed to lying about probable cause to get a warrant for a no-knock raid. I believe some of the officers were sentenced to prison for manslaughter.

    There was also the murder of Dekalb County (Atlanta suburb) police officer Wade Barrett in 1991. He was killed in a shoot-out with home invasion robbers who were impersonating the Atlanta PD’s Red Dog unit (a SWAT-type team that specialized in drug raids). I know that in a lot of home invasion robberies, the “victims” are drug dealers, although I don’t know offhand if that was the case in this particular incident. The articles and news stories that I saw just described the scene as an apartment complex.

  37. Paul H. Says:

    I currently work as a full time FF/EMT, but I also work as a reserve police officer (I know, I know, I must be confused haha). Getting back to the topic at hand, I was both shocked and dismayed that the DA rushed so quickly to charge this officer. I saw nothing in the media video release that even hinted at a legitimate wrongdoing by the officer. I am grateful that this jury followed the law and the case based on facts, yet after reading the letter I still did not get that they totally grasp the sense of urgency that an officer has in making slit second decisions that can be life or death. It will continue to be an issue for cops regarding those who judge without making the choice to put on a badge and wear the uniform.
    On a side note, this officer does not care for any law that subjects capital punishment for murdering a law enforcement officer. My life is worth no more than that of anyone else. As a people and as a Nation, we all ought to have more respect for human life, and a healthy respect for authority.

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