Thanks to the Boston Herald and Officer.com for this video; you get to see a real cop threatened by a real knife-wielding nut case. We’re looking at events from a security camera — five cameras in all captured this shooting, as is getting to be more common — as an officer who has not yet been named responds to a call that a man is harassing pedestrians on Broadway in Everett, Massachusetts (a part of Boston in fact if not within the city limits thereof). This video is instructive, and you can get a lot out of studying it. The whole evolution plays out in barely more than half a minute.
First, notice where it takes place. It’s not on a range, it’s not in a classroom, it’s not in an alley with only the officer and the nut job present. It’s in a bright sunny city intersection, with tons of people around and a million distractions — moving pedestrians, moving cars, all the sensations of a busy city.
At first the cop moves right in on the suspect, one Mario Mejia Martinez, whose criminal history and immigration history (if any) are being closely held by the Massachusetts authorities.
Distractions or no, we bet that officer’s perceptual field was stopped down to about f/32. He didn’t see anything but Martinez attacking him — and maybe he didn’t see anything but Martinez’s knife.
That means he definitely didn’t see his backstop. He seems to have hit Martinez with all four shots (we believe from watching the video that he fired four shots, and witnesses reported hearing four), which reduces the risk to all the pedestrians and motorists you see in the video.
The officer, who hasn’t been identified (Martinez’s family are said to be looking for revenge, in the courts and on the streets), did just about everything right.
- He tried to take charge of the situation. This often works. This time it didn’t.
- When Martinez reaches back behind his back for a weapon (which turned out to be the knife, the cop backpedals. He doesn’t seem to draw at this time (a point you could argue either way) but he keeps talking to Martinez (who keeps talking also, while moving).
- When Martinez attacks, he draws and fires and keeps firing while the threat remains in being.
- He sidesteps Martinez, still engaging him.
- With Martinez down, no longer a threat, he disengages.
- He secures his firearm as the tape ends.
The outcome of the whole thing validates the officer’s training and judgment, in our opinion.
Judgment is hard (but not impossible) to teach meaningfully. But it’s of supreme importance. It’s very rare that a cop, soldier or self/home defender loses his or her life (or gets jammed up in a court) because his or her level of marksmanship did not pass the ultimate test. These unpleasant and tragic outcomes are more often associated with judgment errors.
In a completely unrelated matter, the liberal Republican Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, partially reversed the “sanctuary state” policy of his predecessor, liberal Democrat Deval Patrick. Now, the state still will never ask a criminalien where he’s from — that would be waaaaacist with five a’s — but at least they’ll hold him for 48 hours if ICE wants to trebuchet him back over the nonexistent border fence.
The policy shift comes nearly 17 months into Baker’s first term and nearly a year after the feds fully implemented the Priority Enforcement Program. His aides say there wasn’t a particular incident or arrest that prompted the change, and David Procopio, a state police spokesman, said he was unable yesterday to quantify how many detainer requests police may have refused from ICE under the old policy.
Part of the problem, Baker said, is “the commonwealth stopped asking for them.”
The usual suspects — the kind who, like Deval Patrick, would have preferred the incident in this video to end with the cop on the slab — are outwaged. That’s a great weeping pity, isn’t it?