Should I Shoot - Officer in Trouble?

From Kevin’s latest Should I Shoot blog post:

There is a marked police cruiser nearby, and as you try to walk past minding your own business, the crowd parts just enough for you to see an incredibly violent struggle taking place at the center of the crowd. You stop for a better look and realize something very serious is happening here. The scent of OC spray is in the air and you see the coiled wires of TASER probes being dragged around as the fight continues. The spectators, possibly sensing that things are getting really dangerous, begin to back away as the officer struggles to get the subject under control. You recognize the man as the same guy who was sitting on the ground muttering when you walked in.

With a twisting motion, the man fighting with the officer is able to break one hand free and deliver a crushing blow to the officer’s face. Instantly following the punch, the subject drives the officer hard into the wall, and you hear the cop’s head hit the brick just as she slumps forward.

The attacker clearly now has the upper hand. As the officer begins to fall forward from the debilitating blow to her head, the attacker reaches for her belt and begins tugging at something. You see the criminal pulling on the officer’s holster as she struggles to control her gun. But the attacker sees another weapon and grabs the cop’s expandable baton. He flicks it open and begins beating the officer on the back and upside her already bloody head. She is trying to shield herself from the blows but is clearly stunned and unable to fight.

Would you shoot?

  • Reach for your phone and call 911 to report that an officer is in trouble.
  • Charge forward and tackle the man who is swinging the baton.
  • Draw your pistol and order the man to stop the assault.
  • Draw your pistol and fire immediately.

0 voters

Please explain your decision below

There are more details in the blog post.

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When I was trained with those batons (years ago) we were taught that this is a less lethal option and where you strike someone would determine whether it was deadly force. The attacker has clearly shown his intent is not escape but to end the officers life. Seconds count that’s why I would fire immediately, he’s also resisting an officer I think its reasonable to believe he wouldn’t listen to me and finally I have the element of surprise I wouldn’t give that up it would allow more effective shot placement for at least the first round because his movements are predictable.

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I’m not letting any cop sustain possible lifetime brain damage from some POS Puke especially a woman that doesn’t have the strength in upper body like guys do. Man or woman police I’m in and the criminal is to busy to notice me I can use a knife I don’t need any gun to overtake this Slimeball.

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The assailant, is committing a “forceable felony” with a deadly weapon. I’ll draw and yell for them to “stop or I will shoot you.” Loudly. I’ll then wait, and be ready to comply with the officers that would be on the way, taking note of anyone I can point out with a cell phone in hand. In this day and age, I’m sure someone is videoing the whole thing. That video would be my best friend.

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Order the man to stop the assault will give me a moment to make a correct decision. I’m not sure if baton will be considered by jury as deadly weapon, so I would like to be sure the attacker (and people around) hear my command.
I might be a hero firing immediately, but I’ve also Family I must take care of, so spending a time in jail for using gun against baton is not an option for me.
If I would have it written somewhere: “using gun in such situation is 100% justified” then I fire immediately.

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I’ll give my reasons why I chose to draw my pistol and ORDER the man to stop the assault…

(1) If I was to CHARGE the suspect, I might would end up in the same situation because he does have a weapon now.

(2) Drawing my weapon and firing immediately could have innocent bi-standers in harms way.

(3) Calling 911 would waste to much precious time.

The answer I chose seemed like the most reasonable choice…

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Based upon description here on the forum:
Draw and shouting out "Call 911, tell them “Officer down, Officer injured” Head on a swivel to see if someone is looking out of place/looking like they’re going to be an additional threat. Order combatant in a loud Shout Stop! Back-Up! Head on a swivel while moving to an angle to minimize threat to people in the background. Signal and order others to move away to either side. Command again in a shout STOP now or I shoot.

If the combatant does not defer and cease their attack: stop the threat with the force necessary. Keeping weapon on target, head on a swivel looking for new threats. Lock eyes momentarily with someone who is aware, and composed, Shout to them CALL 911, request Medical and Ambulance to scene report Officer and Perpetrator down and in need of assistance.

Keeping head on swivel and weapon low ready at combatant seek out anyone in the crowd who can provide first aid care for the Officer. Assist Officer with first aid and bleeding control if I’m the only one there who can.

Upon the sound of a siren and or sighting LEO inbound and arriving on scene holster weapon (if not already done) and keep hand nearby - or if they’ve arrived and command - do what they say.

When approached by LE report what I saw, what I did, what I asked people to do, what I commanded assailant to do, how I did what I did, who witnessed what happened, and surrender weapon on demand. Request medical attention for myself. Ask LE to allow me some time for me to Call USCCA and await an attorney for additional discussion.


After reading the setup in the article and the ancillary information offered, I wouldn’t change much at all. Everything from the moment I see the assault in progress to the time the criminal/combatant is subdued would be relatively short. The hard part would be waiting time out while doing everything possible to save the officers life until EMTs can arrive.

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With the crowd it is unlikely anyone will hear or pay attention to another voice yelling. I’m going to shoulder my way in and then stomp on the back of that guys knee as hard as I can. That knee will buckle allowing me to put this guy on the ground where my knee will go right between the shoulder blades and he’s not likely to get up with my fat backside providing the pin. He will either calm down or eventually pass out.

From here I will actually have everyone’s attention. Now I can give orders “Call 911, tell them injured officer” I’m going to try to keep the officer awake, she likely has a severe concussion. “Hey I know your head’s swimming, I need your help cuffing this guy.” “Stay focused you’re going to be fine” etc.

It shouldn’t have to be said but don’t do this unless you’re confident you can drop someone in one go. And don’t ever give up your Situational awareness.

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I’m pretty much going with the same plan as @CHRIS4. I’m not trained for grappling with crazed badguys who are willing to assault officers, so I’m keeping my distance. I’m going to be using my command voice to order the guy off, likely continuously until he complies or until I’m in a position where I can make the shot with the least risk to the officer and to bystanders.

Very good point in @CHRIS4’s post about keeping a look around going for other bad guys - they run in packs, and I can feel the drive to be over-focused and tunnel vision just reading about the situation… so remembering to keep my “assessment engine” going is important.

I’m likely not calling 911 until after the threat has stopped, but that would depend… I might if there was approach time where drawing wasn’t yet something I felt I could do safely.

If the guy complies, I’m going to try to get someone else to do the 911 dialing so I can stay in a two-handed grip.

@Spence has a good point about there being a lot of yelling already, but it’s still a thing I’d likely do… I have a command voice that will stop charging draft horses, so that’d be engaged and might cut through.

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Should the order to stop be ignored, the assailant has given concent for lethal force to be used against them…

Being aware of the surroundings is good.

Truth be told, these are hypothetical situations, when the adrenaline gets going, all of what you plan on doing will be difficult to actually do…

The shorter your “to do list” the more likely you will be to follow it in an emergency situation.

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In this situation I likely wouldn’t even go for my gun. The crowd complicates things significantly.

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Lot’s of things to consider here.

If no one else is helping someone needs to. It will only be a matter of seconds before the bad gun in this situation will likely have control of the officer’s weapon so doing nothing really isn’t an option.

Jumping in attempting to physically restrain the subject puts not just you but everyone present at extreme risk because there’s a good chance the bad guy will end up with both your firearm as well as that of the officer.

If you are carrying your first obligation is to ensure your firearm never falls into the hands of a criminal.

The best option here that I can see is to get someone else to call 911, draw my firearm and attempt to get the crowd to move back to a safe distance and command the bad guy to stop the assault and kiss the sidewalk in a spread eagle position.

The biggest question here is whether or not you have a friendly crowd. If the crowd seems hostile i.e encouraging the beating you’d better have your back to a wall when you draw and start giving commands.

If the assault doesn’t immediately cease and I can maneuver to a safe position with a clear field of fire put the attacker down with whatever force is necessary to accomplish that end.

Again, depending on the crowd’s attitude I would then probably move as quickly as possible to shield the officer and if necessary secure their firearm while awaiting police to respond.

I hate to have such an un trusting attitude about the crowd but let’s face it, you’re most likely to find yourself in the middle of such an event where the general attitude of the community is very anti cop.

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The odds of ever seeing a grand jury for shooting a perp beating a cop senseless with a baton are probably somewhat less that 1:1,000,000,000 . That would be at the bottom of my list of concerns.

My biggest concern would be “can I intercede here safely without harming innocents” and, “can I intercede here successfully without also becoming a disarmed victim myself”.

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Well, as this is a hypothetical situation, what about this? If there is a crowd around (potentially a jury of your peers) who are not helping, do you know the whole story?

What if the “guy beating up the cop” is an undercover police officer? What if this was a domestic dispute?

Don’t get me wrong, I am pro LEO, and would try to help if I could. But, when you involve yourself with strangers in a situation you are not totally informed on, things could go very wrong if you were to use lethal force.

Heck, I have seen where people have been arrested for impersonating a police officer. I know, way out there, but how would you know?

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whole story is a good question…

Still doing potentially lethal harm and the threat needs to be stopped.

Still doing potentially lethal harm and the threat needs to be stopped.

absolutely true

You wouldn’t necessarily - but if this is an undercover cop in civies beating an impersonator with lethal force … I’m going with it still needs to be stopped.

And I think that judgment, made in the moment where you believe you are intervening to protect an innocent is going to be pretty hard to argue with, even in an ugly aftermath.

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There is a crowd around and you may shoot someone be prepared to shoot but just get the person away from the officer.

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An officer is in trouble that’s all I need to know. Order the offender to stop and comply otherwise if offender comes at you then self protect with force.

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Hi @Fred_G Thanks for popping up and adding to this discussion.
I’ve seen and been a party to the same premise: The situation is unknown, we’ve walked into the middle of it, there are people and indications around us who may know far more than we do, but, they don’t seem to be doing anything. The obvious evidence around is not blatantly indicating anything one way or another, and because another human being is getting the snot beat out of them by another we don’t have a lot of time to judge beyond what we see before us.

Just like you (making an assumption) I’m a civilian and unless I’m in a State which requires any and all citizens to render assistance to Officers of the Court and/or Law Enforcement, we don’t have any requirement or responsibility to become involved. No one is going to sue us or blame us successfully in court for doing nothing. There may be a whole family of folk bonded together because they all do the same job, or work with folks like them, who if given half a thought you didn’t do “something” when you could have…

Notice that crowd over there? They’re not doing anything and no one can legally gainsay anything about them all bewildered, hemming and hawing there. Or, rooting for the current winner. There is a psychological premise about ‘crowd mentality’ where a significant percentage of the folk in that crowd will be perfectly comfortable with doing what all the others are doing. There may be a small percentage who will take action, but they need at least one or more to appear to want to do the same thing they want to do, it’s like they’re waiting for permission to act upon their own moral or immoral desires. And if that person >>> over there, getting beat within an inch of their life is lucky, there is one other person at the scene who believes in protecting life. Especially life which appears to be folk of the family of guardians of society. and not an agent of chaos. (This is why, if all things are equal, Law Enforcement is a partners game.)

So if it is to be me, then let it be me. Eyes wide open, because as you have said this could be a setup, gang beat-in, domestic ‘disturbance’… whatever. I’m not wired to stand down if all the buttons within my psyche tell me someone good, someone innocent or righteous needs help. If the assailant doesn’t hear my voice when I rock the Halls of Heaven with a command to STOP, BACK AWAY OR DIE! Then I’ve done my lawful part and I will use what force is demanded to stop the threat., The crowd dynamic will determine how and what angles will be required to deploy sufficient force to end the threat. (This is where so many of us think a warning shot would be just about what’s needed to clear a crowd of lookie-lews. The problem is these days, EVERY angle has a high-density population. Especially pointing up, more immediately pointing down.)


I appreciate your pause to consider and remind everyone things aren’t always what they appear. This forum isn’t a place to stand on a table and beat one’s chest. It’s a place for each of us to work the problem and do the math. It’s an opportunity for people to look at what they might do if they’ve never done anything like it before and understand - from feedback offered by others here - the possible results of the situation, evaluation, initiation, and results.

I’m sorry all for the wall of text. I wanted to be clear, succinct, but well reasoned toward a useful conversation.

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This is the plus and minus. We can arm chair quarterback this forever and that’s a great thing. One of the negatives is WE as humans tend to muddy the water. The questions raised are all valid points, however in the heat of the moment there is a victim and an aggressor when we start trying to break down why something is happening we will slow our reaction time. In this particular case it appears the aggressor has every intent in causing great bodily harm to the victim. There is an extremely high probability that it has nothing to do with self defense. Adding the crowd as a variable will absolutely add a dynamic. My personal opinion is you will either intervene or you won’t and that is completely a personal decision. strong arguments on both sides.

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This may sound overly gory but this would be a case where if you were forced to shoot the smartest move would be to shoot him in the neck from the side with a very steep down angle in the event you could neither get him to disengage or get the crowd to clear you a shooting lane.

We specifically teach this technique and one very similar if you have to shoot someone seated in an occupied vehicle. Get as close as needed to make sure the downward angle is steep enough that if the shot manages to exit, the bullet cannot possible strike anyone but the intended target.

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