NYPD: Half-assed Firearms Training + Unsafe NY Trigger + burst fire = Another Shot Bystander

NYPDThis time, they killed the guy. No, not the guy they were shooting at — he’s in stable condition, and going to recover fully. That’s the guy they should have killed, the guy who held a gun to a cop’s head and later turned and pointed it at him. (The gun turned out to be an Airsoft fake, but was convincing enough you have to agree with the decision to engage the suspect. We have an NYPD official photo of the suspect “gun” below).

But despite firing 11 or 12 rounds from his real gun, the cop only hit armed robber and wannabe cop-killer Alvin Smothers, 36, three times, none in an incapacitating or even solid hit. Two negligently fired rounds struck bystander Felix Kumi, 61, killing him. The other six or seven rounds went Christ-knows-where.

You can’t blame the officer for firing. While the police thought they were carrying out a sting against a black market gun dealer, the “gun dealer,” Jeff Aristy, 28, and his accomplice, Smothers, thought they were going to rob a couple of non-street-smart gun buyers. Since they were supposedly selling these guys guns, they were not expecting an armed response. The Daily Mail:

According to the NYPD, the killer officer was trying to set up a suspected gun dealer in a months-long undercover operation.

First, did they have to say, “killer officer”? The guy didn’t pick up his gun and badge that morning and say, “Patience, my ass, today I’m going out and kill something!” He was badly let down by departmental policies and training. And if he’d only shot the worthless Smothers, and stopped there, he’d be a hero.

Suspect Jeff Aristy, 28, contacted the officer with an offer of guns for sale, then drove him from the Bronx to Mount Vernon to carry out the deal, police said.

Criminals do stuff like this because jailhouse lawyers tell them a New York City cop can’t bust them outside of the five boroughs. Jailhouse lawyers are, in this and many other things, wrong.

After Aristy parked his car, Smothers, the second suspect who was shot, allegedly got into the back seat and pointed the fake gun at the officer’s head, demanding money.

The officer handed over a wad of cash, waited for Smothers to flee, then chased after him, police said.

During the chase, Smothers is said to have turned round and aimed the replica weapon at the officer, prompting him to open fire – hitting both the suspect and Kumi, a local man who happened to be in the area.

It is hard to fault the decision-making of the officer here. He functioned pretty well for a guy who had just had a gun to his head. Here’s the gun:

convincing fake beretta

Would you recognize it as a fake in mere seconds? We wouldn’t, and we carried a real one as a personal weapon for 2-3 years and then as a service weapon for another 25 or so.

This Airsoft toy is a close-enough replica of a Beretta M9A1 that you have to look very, very close to see indicators that it’s not real — and that’s with it just sitting there in the photo.

What they don’t need to do is make an example of the copper here. The guy was hanging it out, doing one of the riskiest jobs in law enforcement, and while he handled the attempted robbery with notable sang-froid, most people in any large group of trained shooters will revert to their training in combat. That’s what he did, and that’s why a citizen is dead and a nogoodnik is not. Because his training was self-evidently unsatisfactory to his requirements.

The real problem is the department’s mixed-up, tossed-up, never-come-down firearms training and policies that generate these disasters over and over again.

New York Police Department needs to inject some realism in its training, and to lose the unsafe Glock New York Trigger (or NY2 or whatever ultra-heavy trigger they’re specifying now). With a gun like a Glock that has no manual safety and requires a trigger pull for routine maintenance, nothing you do to the trigger is going to prevent a department with 30,000 or 40,000 cops from having the occasional ND. (Hanging those who have NDs from a construction crane in front of One Police Plaza might help, but it will never get you to zero. Remember, they had NDs when they were carrying .38 Specials).

Someone will suggest banning realistic toy guns.

New York already does. How’s that working out for them?

10 thoughts on “NYPD: Half-assed Firearms Training + Unsafe NY Trigger + burst fire = Another Shot Bystander

  1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    When I was shooting a lot, 3-400 a month, I used a NY-1 spring with a 3.5 connector for a slightly stout but very smooth five-ish pound pull. I guess NYPD prolly shoot a little less though…sensitivity training eats up a bunch of time.

  2. DSM

    Simunitions and with the minimal safety equipment with up-close “shoot out” scenario based training. The welts, bruises and open wounds will teach them to move fast and hit what they aim at.

  3. Kirk

    The problem isn’t the so-called New York Trigger, it is the lack of training and weapons handling skills of the NYPD. I’ve put those trigger packs in all of my Glocks, because I like the longer, harder pull they create. Using the smooth trigger, they are just more suited to my shooting style. Which probably means I’m doing something wrong, to most internet commentators, but it works for me.

    You want to blame the NYPD “thing with weapons” on something, find another item. Those connectors don’t have a damn thing to do with it. Blaming them is classic “It’s the inanimate object” thinking, and it’s bullshit. The real problem is what’s behind the gun. You’re not going to fix the lack of skills with some technological solution. You want to fix it, you’re going to have to change the entire NYPD training and qualification program, much of the NYPD culture, and probably fire a whole bunch of people who won’t be able to adapt.

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      We agree on the trigger completely.

      And, once again we circled back to finding Joe a tool that will allow him to function at a higher level with less training. love me a Glock but back when I drilled with a model 10 I was pretty good and just maybe a little more conscious of the need for hits given the limited capacity. But there is that concept of training rearing it’s ugly head again, drills save lives and win battles.

  4. Raoul Duke

    There is an excellent article in the current SWAT Magazine that deals directly with this. Pat Rogers, a firearms instructor of some note, and retired NYPD Sergeant/USMC Warrant Officer, takes on the “trigger-pull-as-safety” BS- noting that lots of flatfoots managed to shoot themselves or the wrong person, even with 13-pound trigger S&W Model 10’s.

    There is an interesting RAND Corporation report floating around the ‘netz, from 2008, that skewers the outmoded and ineffective training methods NYPD used, and probably still uses, in their basic academy.

  5. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    There are several problems to overcome.

    The SIZE of the department is an issue, training evolves slowly and behind the curve. The bigger the dept the slower it goes and the more accumulated wrong knowledge or bullshit you have to overcome.

    The “Any training is good training ” mindset has to be overcome as well. You can bet they have an “Instructors mafia” of guys who train to train and consider themselves cutting edge, elite and, dare I say Tier One.

    The institutional yankee anti-gun mindset prevents the intimate relationship with the tool that you really need to develop. Ad to that the zero baseline of gun knowledge for the large percentage of recruits who then go on to receive training from the elite instructors, that same training that’s outdated at best.
    I won’t go into the problem of white girls shooting where black girls would kick somebody’s ass. And I suspect that basic hand to hand knowledge the recruit used to walk in with is being bred out of society in general and filtered out by a department that is want to hire a recruit tha may have anger issues because he got in a scrap in second grade and it went on his permanent record.

  6. Raoul Duke

    Recruits with zero firearms knowledge are often easier to train than many that grew up “huntin”… they realize they don’t know things, rather than knowing the wrong things.

    It’s also high time we stopped accepting agency size as a reason/excuse for poor training, equipment, and standards. A detailed budget breakdown would probably find that most spend more money on executive office furniture, “official” travel, and lazy, non-sworn, redundant clerical staff, than they do on training. Until the public and elected leaders start holding agency heads’ feet to the fire, this will continue.

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