PostHeaderIcon But, But… He Was “Unarmed”

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How much physical abuse, pain, bleeding, and/or threat to life must police officers endure before defending themselves? How about when the attacker/suspect/person resisting arrest is much stronger than the arresting officer? Does it matter that the suspect/attacker/person resisting arrest has no weapon other than his hands?

Well, cops quite often encounter suspects who are extremely strong, and many possess top-notch fighting skills.

Contrary to what many people believe, the average police officer is NOT trained to fight anyone. Their training is based on defending themselves and others, and to make arrests. A uniform does not provide extra strength, nor does it enhance an officer’s ability to fight. Instead, it’s merely a fancy place to hang a badge, patches, and a couple of ink pens.

A portion of an officers job is to arrest and to restrain criminal suspects. However, when those suspects become violent and the officer’s defensive tactics training is failing against the larger, stronger, and/or skilled fighter, well, officers must resort to a means—an elevated use of force—that will enable them to take the suspect into custody. And, if the encounter reaches the level where the suspect’s actions threaten the life of the officer, the officer must defend himself with whatever means is available, including the use of deadly force.

Please take the time to seriously consider this scenario.

You’re an officer who responds to a rape call where the suspect attacks you and/or he physically resists arrest. What would you do? Keep in mind that more often than not, these situations erupt suddenly, as you’ll see in the videos below. You’ll also see there’s no time to grab the pepper spray or TASER.

So, do you stand there and beg little Junior to stop punching you in the head with his ham-size fists? Would you turn and run, allowing Junior to continue raping innocent women? Would you sprint back to your police car to lock the door and sit shivering and shaking and crying until someone arrives to help you? Or would you do your job, no matter how unpleasant it may be?

Let’s take this one step further. What if the rapist decided to brutally attack you, the police officer. And suppose that suspect was someone as skilled in fighting techniques as this guy…

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How much damage to your body could someone like him inflict before you decided to defend your life with whatever means it took to survive? Think someone as skilled as Bruce Lee couldn’t kill you with his bare hands and/or feet?

Yes, cops run up against many, many bad guys who’s strength and fighting skills match or exceed those possessed by the “Bruce Lee’s” of the world. Again, there are many.

Okay, not buying the martial arts aspect? Then suppose the suspect you’re there to arrest is someone like this guy…

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Think you alone could get the cuffs on those wrists if he didn’t want them there? How badly could he hurt you if he pounded those fists against your head?

And, of course, there are always the natural powerhouses out there who could practically rip the doors from your patrol car. For example, strongmen like Lee Haney, and I have run into many “Lee Haney’s” in the streets.

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In fact, it was Lee Haney who brought me to my senses, convincing me that strength training is a must if your job involves arresting people who don’t want to be arrested. So I worked and worked and worked until I was bench-pressing a little over 400lbs (along with all the other goodies—curls, triceps work, legs, back, etc.). That, combined with my background in martial arts, helped me get through some pretty tough situations. However, there’s always somebody bigger and stronger. ALWAYS.

I ask you to watch these brief videos so you can see for yourself what can and often does happen when officers encounter “unarmed” criminals who do not want to go to jail for their crimes.

Please remember that not having a firearm or knife in your possession does not mean you can’t kill someone, even with your bare hands. And, by the way, it is not a cop’s job to take a beating, or to die for you. Even though many will, and have done so in the past.

*I am not pushing an agenda with post. Instead, I’m offering the article to show what officers could and do face during the course of their everyday duties. To assume anything else is totally incorrect. Remember, the purpose of this blog it present facts for writers, and for anyone else who wants to learn.

PostHeaderIcon The Case of the Midnight Prowler: How Would You Handle the Call?


A few years ago our Christmas vacation took an odd and unexpected twist. First, we left fairly warm temperatures and sunny skies in coastal Georgia so we could spend some time at our house in North Carolina (near Mayberry, of course). Well, who would’ve expected that we’d be slammed with a pretty powerful winter storm, the same storm system that crippled much of the east coast. And who would’ve figured we’d have unexpected guests show up a little after midnight on our first night there.

Here’s what brought the middle-of-the-night guests to our snow-covered abode.

The snow was coming down quite heavily, and not only did it knock power out for several days, it placed a tremendous burden on the branches of several newly-planted evergreens in the backyard. The weight of the wet snow caused a few of the young trees to bend until their tops rested on the already white ground. And me, not wanting to lose either of those precious Deodar (Himalayan) Cedars, suited up and braved the cold and blowing snow to lend them a hand with their fight for survival. Sounds brave, but what I actually did was simply slip on a jacket, boots, and gloves, and venture out into the moonless night to shake the snow from their narrow branches (not so heroic after all, huh?).

Since I was already outside I also decided to clear a “restroom” spot for the family poodle, and I brushed several inches of snow from the satellite dish. Then, with my chores complete, I headed back inside where I sat near the toasty-warm fireplace to work on an in-progress writing project (thankfully, we had a generator, the only one in our neighborhood).

*I’m a late-night writer, which may account for the many errors seen on this blog.

Anyway, I settled into a comfortable chair with my laptop and was deep into my work when the doorbell began to ring, quite relentlessly.

Remember, this was well after midnight during a heavy snowstorm when the roads were nearly impassible (our N.C. house was well into the depths of the county, situated in a lakeside community). Of course, my background immediately sent my cop-brain into overdrive. I began to think the worse.

Okay, it was late and I was really tired…

But, having lived the life of a trained observer and teacher of police officer safety and survival, I reverted back to my many years of training and did what any hyper-alert police officer would’ve done…I slowly and carefully peeked outside through the blinds to see who, or what, was ringing my bell so late at night.

I was surprised to see not one, but two snow-covered police vehicles idling in my driveway. I was also a little stunned to see that the officers had my house and yard brightly illuminated with their spotlights and takedown lights. AND they’d taken tactical positions around the house. The only thing missing was the bullhorn and the hostage negotiation team.

My first thought…hide the eggnog and rum cake. Second thought…put on something other than sleepwear. Third thought…Well, there was no third thought. I simply opened the door and stepped outside, in shorts, t-shirt, and with ten bare toes. It was around 25 degrees, so I slipped my hands into my pockets for a little warmth, leaving my toes to fend for themselves.

One of the officers, the one in charge, decided to approach me, cautiously. It was at this point when I realized they were awfully serious about something. A second officer—backup—walked up with his hand resting on his sidearm. I noticed the thumb break on his holster had been unsnapped.

His other hand gripped a can of pepperspray.

Very nice, polite officers. Both of them. Red-faced, buzz-cut, and full of “ready-for-any-and-all-action.” They were all about the business at hand.

Now, you tell me how you think the deputies handled this situation. Were their methods and questions appropriate? Did they ask enough questions? Too many? Were they safety-conscious? Anything wrong? Everything right? Here’s the basic conversation (questioning).

Officer #1 (speaking to me) – “Evening, sir. Wonder if you could tell me what you’re doing here?”

Me – “I live here.”

#1 – “But this house is vacant.”

Me - “No, I live here, but we have a home in another state as well. We’re back and forth between the two.”

#1 – “How long have you lived in this house?”

Me – “Two years, or so.”

#1 – “How long have you been here, on this trip?”

Me – “Since last week.”

#1 – “Who owns the house?”

Me – “I do. Would you like to see some ID?”

#1 – “No, that’s not necessary at this point.”

Officer #2  abruptly chimed in. “You’re not black.”

Amazed at his uncanny investigative/observation skills, I smiled, and then said, “No, I’m not.”

#2 – “You been outside tonight?” (Remember, I’d been out tending to the trees and to the doggy restroom, therefore, the yard was loaded with footprints in the snow).

Me – “I have.” (I explained).

#2 – “Someone called and said a black guy wearing a hoodie was walking around your house peeping in the windows. You seen anyone?”

Me – “No.” Tip…providing more information than what you’re asked can sometimes be the beginning of an all new black and white striped wardrobe.

#2 to #1 – “She must have seen him (a nod toward me) outside and thought it was someone else.” By the way, his use of the pronoun “she” let me know that it was one of my female neighbors who’d made the call to the sheriff’s office.

#1 uses his portable to call dispatch – “I’m talking to the homeowner. This is his house but he lives out of state and is in town here for a while. Everything’s 10-4.”

#1 to me – “Sorry we bothered you, but we have to check these things out. Have a good night.”

Me to #1 and #2 – “Thanks for coming out. Makes me feel good knowing you respond to these type of calls, especially since we’re not around all the time.” (I didn’t bother to tell him about our alarm system and the across-the-street neighbors who watched and checked the place like Pinkerton guards).

#1 and #2 in unison – “No problem.”

Me, again – “Sure you wouldn’t you like to see some ID?”

#1 – “No, we trust you. Have a good night, now.”

And with head-nods and waves they turned their backs to me and walked to their patrol vehicles, leaving me standing barefoot on the front porch as they drove away. Shivering, with my hands still inside my pockets, I watched their taillights disappear around the curve.

The deputies, while extremely polite, left me with a few questions bouncing around inside my head. Anyone have an idea what those questions could be?

Would you have handled the call differently? If so, how?

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