HORROR STORIES FROM THE STREET:
From the Force Science Research Center
I was working patrol in a high crime area when a call came in about a man
screaming outside his home. Responding officers (including a DT instructor)
confronted a nude man in front of the house, punching out porch windows. He
was drenched in blood from cutting his arms and hands but kept up his
tirade. Another DT instructor and I were called for backup.
When we arrived the subject was at a standoff with the officers, holding a
hooked piece of glass in his right hand and threatening to stab any officer
who came close. We Maced him with no effect. He just laughed as he cut his
left forearm down to the bone in a circle all the way around his arm,
nearly amputating it. Bleeding profusely, he then ran into his house and
slammed the door.
In my mind that was fine. If he was by himself we could have waited for him
to bleed out. But one of the gung ho officers followed him through the
door. In a split second, I could see the subject swing his arm with the
glass from behind the door. The officer triangulated out to a corner and
drew his gun, but he was blinded by blood that covered his face. I didn't
know if he'd been slashed or if it was blood from the subject.
I pushed the door hard and pinned the subject behind it. I had my gun in my
right hand and my flashlight in my left. As a last ditch effort before
shooting through the door I swung my flashlight and luckily connected with
the top of the subject's forehead. He dropped the glass.
The four of us (mind you, 3 DT instructors) used every technique we could
think of...baton strikes all over his body, joint manipulations, knee
strikes to the face, head and body--all with no effect. The subject was
like a superhuman Gumby.
At one point we got one handcuff around the arm that was cut all around and
when an officer pulled the cuff behind the subject's back the muscle peeled
away from the bone like a well-cooked spare rib. That had no effect on the
subject, but the officer let go and started to puke.
Finally I got a lateral vascular neck restraint on the subject and rendered
him unconscious. We were exhausted and breathing as hard as if we'd just
run a marathon. I told the other officers, "If this guy gets back up, shoot
To our disbelief the subject came to and stood up with all of us hanging
on. Mind you, most of us were in the 5 ft. 10 in. to 6 ft., 200 lb. range,
while the subject was about 5 ft. 7 in. and 140 lbs. None of us could
believe it! I knew if this guy got away from us someone was going to die.
Once again a plethora of impact techniques the like of which usually
results in death were being delivered. In the melee we inadvertently moved
back onto shattered glass and the subject was frantically trying to reach a
Somehow I was able to apply a reverse lateral vascular restraint as we were
both facedown on the glass and again rendered him unconscious. Three of us
were then able to handcuff both arms as the other officer continued puking
in the doorway.
To get the subject away from all of the glass we dragged him outside and
threw him into a snowbank. When our boss arrived there was so much blood at
the scene and on us that he called in an officer-involved shooting,
assuming that the person lying in the red snowbank was dead.
To my amazement the subject survived. He was high on angel dust at the time.
A year later I saw a one-armed man riding a bike in my sector. He flagged
me down. When I went over to him, I recognized that it was the guy who'd
brought me the worst brawl of my life. He thanked me and apologized.
He had been in rehab for the year and said he didn't remember the incident,
but his neighbor told him the police had shown ultimate restraint that day.
The neighbor said if he'd been the police he would have shot him. We saved
that man's life in more ways than one that day.
I shook his hand and drove away. I never thought I would condone the
shooting of an unarmed man, but that incident changed my mind for sure. Ten
years later, now retired from the force, I still occasionally have
nightmares about it.
We were fortunate we were able to control the subject eventually. From that
point forward anytime we had to deal with someone threatening nude in
public we developed a game plan before we even stepped foot on the playing
Program Coordinator/Curriculum Developer
Rochester (NY) Public Safety Training Facility
LESSONS FROM ABOVE:
• Anything can and will happen.
• Learn to Improvise and Adapt.
• Soldiers can terminate the enemy (depending on rules of engagement). Training to control or gain a submission from the enemy needlessly exposes the soldier to danger every second he is grappling with him--and OTHER combatants.
• A Civilian's priority is to survive and escape (and injure the attacker severely if necessary to accomplish this and avoid being killed themsleves), not gain a submission.
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