We were going to blog this from an engagement dynamics point of view — it was a very near-run thing, that began as a routine traffic stop, and ended, fortunately, with the bad guy dead (although he speeds away at the end of the video, he didn’t get far before succumbing to his wounds). But it turns out Chris Hernandez, who has military experience but also a long career as a street cop in a tough city, has thoroughly and thoughtfully blogged the engagement. We strongly urge you to Read The Whole Thing™ (and the rest of his blog! And his book!) but here’s a taste.
The movement of [bad guy John Van Allen]’s right arm as he reaches under his uniform shirt is obvious from the camera angle, and I’d guess it would be even more obvious to the officer, standing outside the driver’s door. My guess, and it’s just a guess, is that the officer [Trooper Matt Zistel, Oregon State Police] didn’t fire at this point because Allen was wearing a US Army uniform. Most cops consider members of the military to be fellow “men of the cloth”, so to speak. That doesn’t mean we won’t treat them like criminals when they act like criminals, but it does mean cops generally are hesitant to fire on someone wearing an official good guy uniform. My gut feeling is that Trooper Zistel would have opened fire at this point if Allen hadn’t been in uniform.
5) At 1:06, a full two seconds from the time he first started drawing, Allen opens fire.
This was an extremely slow draw, giving Trooper Zistel plenty of advance notice. Most criminals don’t “train”; they might practice pulling their weapon from wherever they hide it, but they don’t train to develop muscle memory. To me, Allen appears to be an amateur with no appreciable pistol training. The majority of criminals are, like Allen, capable of not much more than operating a weapon. And despite comments from those who think anyone in uniform is a highly trained combat vet with PTSD, there is currently no reason to believe Allen ever did anything more than stateside military construction training. He served 3 years as a reserve construction engineer, and was discharged last year. No word yet on why Allen was in uniform.
Once again, we admonish you to Read The Whole Thing™. Chris has a fairly high-rez video and he saw a lot of the goings-on other commentators missed — like the perp inadvertently dropping his mag.
Trooper Zistel did well, even though he got tagged with a non-life-threatening wound. He reacted fast and won the gunfight. It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless, and it’s very hard to fault anything he did. When you watch the video (and the video Chris has at that link is better than any of the others we’ve seen) the sheer malevolence of John Van Allen’s attach is startling.
The OSP has been providing a video about “common myths about deadly force” in officer-involved shootings to the media. We’ve debunked some of those same myths in these pages, so we’re going to give you the link to the video in a future post. It can stream with Windows Media Player or with VLC. If people have trouble with that, we’ll get the file and put it on here.