I spent some time last week talking with a police officer working on the East Coast. I was headed that way to teach at an International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors regional training conference on extreme close-quarter combatives. The officer contacted me because he was scheduled to attend the conference but could not due to an on-duty injury. He told me the injury was directly related to the conference content and went on to tell me the story.
What I was told chilled me, but I wasn’t really surprised because I had heard it before. The officer is an experienced law enforcement professional who is a state-certified instructor in firearms, defensive tactics, O.C. spray, expandable baton, verbal judo, etc. He has made hundreds if not thousands of traffic stops over the years and on this occasion made a “routine” (no such thing) traffic stop on a subject who was talking on a cell phone while driving.
The stop progressed like many do until the officer attempted to issue a citation. “At this point the suspect became enraged,” he told me. “He got out of the car screaming so I backed up and pulled my pepper spray and told him to calm down or I would spray him. He continued to advance toward me aggressively so after several verbal warnings, I sprayed him. The spray had no effect. As a matter of fact, it had more effect on me than him.”
At this point, the officer did exactly what he was trained to do: He escalated to the next level of force and pulled his expandable baton. “I gave another verbal warning but he still came at me,” he said. “I struck him repeatedly in the green zones [approved areas of the body that will cause minimal damage to the attacker], but he just shrugged them off like they never happened.
“I have never seen such a raging bull response in a suspect,” he continued. “Nothing worked. He was able to pull my baton from my hand, and we started fighting hand to hand. He went for my holstered weapon, and I did what I was trained to do–I grabbed the bottom of my holster and pulled up so he could not pull my gun out.
“He was finally able to overpower me and was behind me choking me. He was whispering in my ear ‘I am going to kill you with your own gun’ the whole time he was choking me.”
This officer admitted to me that he was “going out” when a group of nearby citizens decided they were not going to let this happen in their town and interceded. The suspect was put behind bars and the officer was rushed to a hospital for treatment. He will be okay and after a period of convalescence will return to work.