America, You’re Doing It Wrong (But not really)


Today’s quick internet craze debunk is courtesy of author and combat veteran Steven Hildreth, Jr., author of The First Bayonet.  I saw this particular Facebook meme previously, but Steven asked me for my thoughts.  He thought I would get a kick out of tearing it apart because he instinctively knew, as anyone who has been trained in combat would, that this particular meme is not only misleading, but just plain stupid.

First, let’s talk briefly about combat and self-defense.  When it comes to shooting an attacker, there is no school of training that directs you to take one shot then wait to see the reaction of the person you just shot.  Then, if they are still a threat, if you actually hit them, take one more shot and, again, wait to see the reaction of the attacker before repeating this process until the threat is no longer present.  If there IS such a school of training out there, please let me know.  Then, run screaming from the building because you are being improperly trained by really stupid people.

Contrary to the last action movie you watched or the fake police training video people like to share on social media, people don’t fly backward and immediately die just because you shot them somewhere.  Even if your bullet tears through their chest cavity and severely damages vital organs, that person is still going to live for a time before the life actually flees their body.  A bullet to the head is really the only method of instantly stopping an attacker, and that isn’t even 100% positive in its results.  But, defensive shooting courses seldom teach the participant to aim at the target’s head because the head is far too small a target to hit consistently under stressful conditions.  The torso is a much larger target, thereby improving your shots fired to actual hits ratio.  Shooting the torso, even a bullet through the lungs or heart, the target can still move and still poses a threat if they are within arms reach or still possess a weapon.  Therefore, training courses instruct their students to keep shooting the target until it is obviously no longer a threat, as in dead as a door nail, deceased, has kicked the proverbial bucket, and is no more.

Courses also do not train their participants to aim for arms or legs when they are removing a threat.  Arms are a smaller target than a head, and most people’s legs are as well.  So, we do not train to aim for the smallest target available and take our chances.  We train to shoot the area with the greatest probability for a good hit – the torso.  During a combat scenario, arms and legs are moving around even more so than the small target of the head.  Hitting one or the other in a real, life or death situation, when you are scared and amped up on adrenaline, is virtually impossible.  In most cases when you read about a person being shot in the arm, shoulder, or leg, it is because the shooter MISSED his intended target of the torso when under stress.

The meme in question.

The meme in question.

As far as the meme itself, both incidents are true and factual.  In the top photo and caption, Darrius Kennedy, a crazy guy wielding a butcher knife, was shot and killed by New York City Police.  Two officers fired on Kennedy, expending 12 rounds and making 8 hits.  The shooting took place at an estimated distance of 15-20 feet.  And, Kennedy was dead as a door nail.  Police approached Kennedy as he sat on the sidewalk smoking a joint.  He immediately became combative and drew his knife, which he used to slash at officers and hold them at bay for some time.  When Kennedy ran into a crowd on the sidewalk, all the while swinging his knife, the officers opened fire.  You can see the video below.

Now, the written commentary during the video attempts to make two assertions; one, that the apparently “large knife” wasn’t so large, and, two, that it doesn’t take 12 bullets to kill one man.  The knife was a standard chef’s knife with an 8″ blade.  A knife’s blade only needs to be 4″ long to effectively strike every vital organ in your body.  And there are plenty of incidents in which 12 bullets weren’t even enough to put down an attacker immediately.  There are incidents where a person was shot 12 times and lived, actually.  So, it’s just more idiocy from people who don’t understand physiology and combat throwing their uneducated opinion out there for people to take as fact.

Here is an incident in which an innocent man was shot 16 times by police, including being shot in the face, and lived to win quite a large settlement against the department.  You can read that article HERE.

Howard Morgan, himself a police officer who decided to get into a shootout with OTHER police officers in 2005, was shot 28 freakin times by Chicago cops.  He lived and is now serving a 40 year prison sentence.  The three Chicago officers HE shot also survived.  You can read that article HERE.

But, but, he only had a knife and the cop had a GUN.  Okay, sit down and shut up, idiot.  Do you have any idea how many people are stabbed to death each year?  Every year there are police officers who are critically injured with knives, or killed with knives, even though the cop is in possession of a gun.  A simple Google search is all you have to do to put that to rest.  I found several instances but I will share one from 2011 HERE.  In this case, one officer was killed and two others seriously injured by a man with a knife, even though all three officers had guns.

The meme in question.

The meme in question.

The bottom half of the meme shows a man wielding a machete and a Katana, a Japanese sword of Samurai fame, and one, lone German Policeman with a small pistol.  This incident is also accurate, sort of.  There were several more police officers present but they were cropped out of the photograph.  There are several photos of this incident but I was not able to readily locate any video.  In this case, yes, the Polizei officer shot the man in the leg and he immediately fell to the ground, dropped his edged weapons, and was apprehended.  But, as stated above, we have no way of knowing if that officer intended to shoot the man in the leg or if he pulled his shot under stress and fired low.  Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is a high speed shooting machine of a German cop and he fully intended to shoot the man in the leg.  Good job, officer!  It obviously worked out very well for you.  You, sir, are a hero.

Well, that sure isn’t much of a debunking there, Mister Elder.  Is that it?

Oh, hell no.  The assumption is made that the German police make it a practice to shoot people in non-critical areas in order to apprehend them and spare their life.  I mean, those people are obviously crazy and just need some help, right?  So, the Polizei academy trains its officers to shoot for the legs.  Um, no.  Besides that ludicrous assertion, the man is facing the cop and moving directly toward him, making a shot to the thigh a much higher probability than if the man is running around and bouncing around like Kennedy was doing in New York.  Only an idiot would have taken a shot at Kennedy’s legs, risking a miss and the death of an innocent bystander.  In the German incident, they are in a relatively secluded area and there is no crowd of bystanders encircling the encounter, such as was present in New York.  Officers had a bit more freedom to experiment without risk to innocents in the German scenario.  Maybe if idiot Americans would stay away from police incidents instead of forming a mob around them, American cops could have the same luxury.  Just a thought.

Just in case you thought German cops don’t shoot knife-wielding suspects, here is a video of a naked guy in a fountain.  Enjoy!

Shot dead.  One shot to the chest.  Notice how long it takes for him to stop moving and fall into the fountain.  If he had wanted to continue his pursuit of the officer and stab him, he could have easily done so.

Two more incidents, minus video, in which German police shot and killed people with knives can be found HERE  and HERE.

I have experience with the German police.  As a young MP stationed in Germany during the Cold War, I went on several “ride alongs” with our Polizei counterparts.  If you think the German police are a bunch of pansy pushovers, you are an idiot.  They don’t back down and they will shoot you dead in a heartbeat.  They have been dealing with extremists, terrorists, spies, and criminal gangs more closely than most U.S. police departments and have been doing so for decades.  They don’t fuck around, as they say on the street.  Back in the 80s, there was a reason jewelry shops could leave their wares in the window displays, sans barred windows, in downtown Munich over night.  The Polizei kept the streets quiet for the most part and they did not give any quarter.  I watched a guy get knocked cold by a Polizei sap and will never forget that.  Yes, he deserved it.

There are many, many other incidents involving the Polizei and deadly force.  This is just a taste.  Hopefully it will satisfy you but just do some simple research yourself and you will see that this meme is not only misleading, but is primarily just an anti-police visual designed to make people either hate, or fear, our police officers.  Both incidents were good shoots.  Now, just for fun, here is a video from Instructor Zero examining the “21 foot rule”, the rule that states an attacker armed with a knife can reach you and stab you from 21 feet away before you can draw your gun.  Zero is a proficient expert, a dead-eye shot with a pistol, and one of the fastest guns seen within the so-called “tactical community.”

So, the next time an idiot tries to convince you that police have no reason to shoot a man armed only with a knife, please punch them in the face.  Okay, maybe don’t punch them in the face because that will get you arrested or get your ass kicked.  But, at least verbally abuse them and educate them on your knew-found understanding of all things gun vs knife.  Go forth and change the world, one moron at a time.









27 thoughts on “America, You’re Doing It Wrong (But not really)

  1. IMO, this article has too many issues for me to comprehend at the moment. Please give me a few days for my brain to heal before I can formulate a proper response to this trash. Until then, stop posting…just stop.

  2. firstly, let’s talk about how combat and self defense training should be completely irrelevant to this conversation. 1. COMBAT TRAINING? Cops are not, as much as some like to think differently, in combat. Their job is to SERVE AND PROTECT not COMBAT the public, including the knife wielding person.

    2. Self defense training is to prepare you for the unexpected, a sudden street attack, a home invasion, etc. Police knowingly and are expected to be involved in dangerous life-threatening situations, their training should not mimic Combat nor typical self defense training. They need to do exactly what they need to do stop a threat with the least amount of force possible. Not shooting to kill, but shooting to incapacitate, SHOULD be exactly what they are doing.

    “Shot dead. One shot to the chest. Notice how long it takes for him to stop moving and fall into the fountain. If he had wanted to continue his pursuit of the officer and stab him, he could have easily done so.”

    Yes I did, it was less than two seconds after the shot. He stopped advancing at that time. stopped and stumbled backwards.

    Your comment implies that he simply decided to not continue to advance despite being shot in the chest. Right………… I’m sure once that bullet pierced his body, instead of being frozen in shock from the fact that he was shot, he just decided “nah I don’t want to stab this officer that just shot me anymore, I’ll just stand here until I die “- that’s exactly what happened.

    • When you find a police academy that trains officers to “shoot to incapacitate” you let us all know, okay?

      Until then, if you aren’t out there dealing with the crazies of the world and have just your mighty keyboard and internet connection upon which to rely for your expertise, please leave the conversation to the grownups.

      • Ross, the argument isn’t whether a “shoot to incapacitate” training program exists, it’s whether it should… And I guarantee you most voters/taxpayers would say that’s what they want. As the people who pay the salary of the police force, and as the people it would benefit, citizens deserve for the police not to engage in military-style tactics when the need to use force arises.

        Further, most of your examples do not apply to police-citizen issues. When the police are called to a scene, they usually know roughly what to expect… Most situations aren’t a surprise. As such, they can create distance, assess the situation for themselves, and have guns drawn if necessary (the last video especially is pretty irrelevant to the police brutality issues people are angry about). Some of what you said is interesting, and I’m not discounting your experience, but am recognizing that you weren’t a police officer, that the police ARE NOT and SHOULD NEVER BE a military force, and that there’s likely a better way to deal with a person with a KNIFE than to get too close and then need to shoot multiple times.

      • First, yes, I was a police officer.

        We do provide officers with a variety of non-lethal tools but every situation is going to be different. If a suspect is on you, it is a bit too late to start contemplating which approach to use. Also, not every officer or patrol car is going to have all of those tools. But read my article on shooting an unarmed man. There is more in that one about justifications and how these things happen.

        You may also have to learn that there is a degree of humor and sarcasm in some of the things I write. I try to keep them relatively light so as to not come across as a “shoot ’em all” kinda guy.

      • I haven’t yet, but I will surely vote for local representatives that will push for said trainings. The police academy culture needs to be closely scrutinized and altered to not perpetuate

    • Former police officer, former combat hospital corpsman, lawyer.

      Sorry, Austin. When a police officer faces an attacker, that is COMBAT by any definition. Here’s one from a convenient on-line dictionary. Note definitions 1 and 2. Only definition 3 supports your argument.

      When the attacker is armed, that is a fight to the death, if the attacker so chooses. The attacker gets all the choices – the only one the officer has is to defend or loose the fight. Loosing the fight is not an option, as even if the officer survives, his/her weapon is now in the hands of a criminal. That can’t be allowed to happen.

      • Your post highlights the underlying issue.I appreciate your response. It only further reinforces my views, IMO. My argument is that a police officer should not be entering these situations with a combat mindset. It is not a “a fight or contest between individuals or groups ” it is an officer of the law responding to a threat that should be attempted to be subdued in a non lethal manner. If you come into the situation with the idea that the situation is “a fight or contest”, then you’re starting off on the wrong foot at jump street.

      • Austin, I said “When an officer faces an attacker….” An officer doesn’t enter a scene with a combat mindset, but switches to it when the attacker attacks, or the officer perceives the attacker to be a deadly threat. “Combat” starts when the bad guy attacks the cop.

        Anything else would be foolhardy – you can’t subdue a person with a gun, or a person “close in” with a knife, with non-lethal force. If you try, you face an unacceptable risk of injury.

        Taking a person in to custody, who is COMPLIANT, is not combat – and that happens hundreds of times every day without harm to anybody.

    • Austin said he needs DAYS to process an online post, but cops should be able to process an attack on the street within miliseconds?!? In reality, it only took you six minutes to reply. Well played sir, well played. Unless of course you were in a volatile situation where you would be DEAD in less than a second? Easy to sit somewhere comfortable & judge, much more difficult to actually DO something, even WITH YEARS of training!

    • The problem is, that everyone thinks police are super heroes and that they should have lightning reflexes and super sensory skills like spiderman. They don’t think police get scared when their life is in danger, I guarantee that one of the first things to flash in their mind is their families.

      Police are people, with a little more training than us.

  3. Ross… I thank you for this… I try to educate people on Police training being a former MP and having dated a Police Officer before. This shoot to enable crap… I want to know how many people go to target practice and are happy that they shot the arm off the target but never hit center mass. Give me a break.

  4. Wow that video where the police are speaking Spanish are fucking idiots. What I would have done was train my AK at the man’s feet and speak to him directly while in a retreated stance jic he advanced on me. While staying at a minimum of 15 feet he would have to lunge fast than it would take me to raise my weapon about a foot and fire.

    I WOULD NOT hold my weapon by the forend with one hand and try and smack the suspect with a stick in the other giving him the range he needs to stab the shit out of me. Ross Elder all these videos show is that more training and a mental capacity for dealing with people of mental illness should not be necessary but mandatory.

    Proper communication, escalations of threat levels, situational awareness are just a few of the foundations most police officers lack this day in age and the consequence is death and distrust of the citizens officers are sworn to protect.

  5. Everyone that has never been a cop should absolutely be the ones that give advise on how to handle attackers.
    they should tell people how to fight and they should tell us how they’d do it. Not from experience, just from whatever idea pops in their head

  6. Ross the German police do use their guns less than American cops. For them it is a last resort, unfortunately there seems to be a lot of US Cops who can’t wait to flash their firearm.

    • The German police have far less need to use thie firearms than do their American counterparts. German society on the whole is much more orderly than American society.

      NO American police officer wants to use their firearm – doing so is a life-destroying, career altering event, with unbelievable negative pact on the officer and his or her family.

  7. Liked the article, but I was thinking ” he shouldn’t call everyone that disagrees an idiot” . . . then I started reading the replies . . . Very well written, thought out article, carry on.

  8. So knives are like ten times more dangerous than guns right? I’ve been stabbed a few times and I’m alright. In fact they weren’t even that serious. Last time I checked guns can a fuck ton more damage than knives.

  9. Personally I don’t mind not having to pay for the knife-wielding idiot’s medical bills, rehabilitation, physical therapy, psychiatric care, and incarceration. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Comments are closed.