Back on July 24th, 2017, FTO Officer Hebb and Officer Foster (who will be affectionatly referred to as boot from this point on), only 5 weeks fresh out of the academy, began to pursue a vehicle which was stolen. During the subsequent pursuit, they determined that the vehicle matched the description of one which was involved in a shooting on the previous Sunday, in which a person was shot in the leg. The video is what happened when the Bad Guy (referred from this point on as BG) decided to stop at a random house and discharge his pistol into the air and then several more times off camera, causing the two pursuing officers to try to stop the dangerous situation from escalating and innocent people from being killed. Between the two officers 26 shots were fired, none of the officers were hit or injured. The fun really starts when the shooting stops. I want to discuss this particular officer involved shooting (OIS) critically because it is important.
Please watch the below video before reading further:
The first part of the video starts out with a house camera angle, you see a Honda rolling and a guy running, at around 0:08 you see him put his hand in the air and everyone duck for cover, that’s a gunshot, he was not playing around.
At 0:10 you see the two officers getting on the walk way to the house, guns drawn. First officer is directly in the line of fire of the second officer. The first officer immediately begins to put rounds on the target who is outside camera range on the right. The officer immediately begins to backpedal. At 0:13 he nearly falls backwards, gun in hand.
At 0:14 you see Officer Hebb’s body worn camera video start, he’s the Field training Officer (FTO), senior officer and you hear him say “Go Slow and don’t hit those fucking…inaudible* He is doing what an experienced FTO should be doing, walking his boot through the process and what to do.
At 0:28 Hebb is out out of the car, gun in hand, he’s yelling, running and displaying good trigger discipline while cursing like a sailor. Not one and a half seconds later he is putting rounds on his target. At 0:35 you see him nearly trip walking backwards, gun in hand, then goes back to shooting.
At 0:41 his pistol (a Sig) is slide locked, empty. That means he needs to reload or move, preferably both. At 0:45 he has fresh magazine inserted into pistol and he is good to go, yelling commands the entire time.
At 0:48 Officer Hebb is yelling commands to his boot, this is good.
At 0:50 you hear the BG say “I’m dying.” Well, no shit.
At around 1:00 you hear the boot say “I’ll go hands on” and he goes to cuff the BG.
At 1:12 Officer Hebb has an epiphany to get his tourniquet, he then goes on to apply it, without gloves.
At 1:33 Officer Hebb realizes he put it on incorrectly. Looking at it from his point of view, however, he put it on correctly, but forgot to realize that the BG was face down, so the direction of the TQ and type of TQ is very important. More on that below.
At 1:42 another officer decides to help him out, also without wearing gloves. Does it take two people to put on a tourniquet? No, it does not.
At 1:57 Officer Foster’s (boot) camera begins.
At 2:05-2:06 you see the boot pointing his duty gun at his FTO’s back.
At 2:17-2:18 you see the boot point his gun at the female in question while his FTO reloads. The BG was the only one with a firearm, though, right? Who is covering him?
At 2:30-2:31 the boot stands there and looks at a female who is apparently shot in the right wrist, another officer arrives on location and the video ends.
First and foremost, this is an adrenaline roller-coaster ride of a situation. I have been involved in numerous pursuits and have had very similar situations occur. From several articles the two officers pursued that vehicle and BG for an extended amount of time, which may mean it was longer than a standard start pursuit then a few seconds later the action happens. I cannot find the exact length of the pursuit but this is important to note because that initial adrenaline rush of initiating a pursuit, especially for something felony-level is very serious experience. Nearly every officer who has ever gone through this and then had to use deadly force will instantly remember that first time, it is tantamount to popping your cherry, especially if you are a fresh boot. This is an important piece of information to note because the moment that pursuit comes to an end a second wave of adrenaline will hit you. Whatever composure you regained, whatever steady handedness you were able to achieve and however you worked through the seriousness of the first adrenaline dump the second one will put you right back at the tip of the spear, that feeling which turns your autopilot on, then you stop thinking, and usually start cursing.
In the first part of the video watching it from the camera on the house you see the BG discharge his pistol in the air (he did discharge it several more times apparently) and then you see the two officers begin to run towards the BG, guns drawn. Officer Hebb begins to put rounds on target and then immediately begins to back away, nearly tripping on a lawn fixture/wooden curb/planter looking thing. Backwards movement during shooting is a no-go. This is a naturally ingrained response to a complex problem which should have been solved via training. If the officers of the LVMPD are taught to walk backwards and shoot then the range instructors need to seriously re-asses the curriculum. Walking backwards is not a good tactic and has a high probability of getting you killed. If Officer Hebbs were to have fallen backwards and busted his head open, that would be as bad as him falling backwards and having a natural reaction to try to grab something, squeezing his pistol and inadvertently lettings a round off into himself, someone else or his partner. These are all real possibilities which have occurred. Side-stepping, moving towards the threat or just standing still and getting good, accurate, hits on target are the best courses of action, walking backwards is not on that list.
The next part of the video is Officer Hebb’s body camera. He is in the passenger side of the vehicle and the moment the car stops he is out, running with gun in hand. Cursing is part of the auto-pilot as you want to be serious in your statements and simply yelling (though that happens more often) may not be enough, so we naturally curse to get people to comply. Chances are he did not even know he was cursing intentionally, which is perfectly acceptable. Officer Hebbs chases the BG into the front yard and instead of taking cover he puts rounds on the BG. That is all fine and good, but there are vehicles in various directions, unless you absolutely need to gain that ground on him there may not be a reason to chase a person into a small alley or section of a yard. That is called being mud sucked. Thankfully the BG did not make it into the back yard and thus the officers did not have to chase him through a small door way (read: fatal funnel), but it could have occurred and is worth the mention to learn from. Instead of taking cover Officer Hebbs starts shooting, which is good, the BG needs to be shot as he is a danger to the officers and the safety of the innocent bystanders around. You see his level change and the body camera start taking photos of the sky when he almost trips backwards, he regains his footing and continues to shoot. Good recovery, good on him for getting right back in the fight. Then his Sig goes to slide lock and it takes him 4-5 seconds to reload his pistol while the BG was there with a pistol near/on him. 4-5 seconds. The entire shooting portion took around 10 seconds, which is super long for a pistol exchange of that distance. The only reason it took that long was, in my opinion, because Officer Hebbs nearly tripped and continued firing after recovering, a knee-jerk reaction to an “oh shit” moment. Likely the shooting would have stopped one or two rounds after the time he nearly tripped, if he did not trip. Either way, perfectly acceptable given the context of the situation. But 4-5 seconds from an overt pistol pouch is slow by any measure. Initially I thought that he did the reload that slowly because his boot was covering as he was reloading, but that turned out to be incorrect. He had to think about reloading because he did not commit his gear to automation through training. This is a point of weakness and it needs to be covered by any LEO/GOV/MIL person who carries overt kit. I do not want to use the term muscle memory because that does not exist. It is an installed response through proper training, Officer Hebbs did not have it, and he should train to make sure he does, we all should.
Moving on to the biggest learning part of this entire situation, the tourniquet application on the BG. For arguments sake, lets say that Officer Hebb’s first shot made the femoral strike which caused the massive bleed and it was not until nearly a minute and eighteen seconds later that he got a tourniquet on him (properly). That is pretty good, if you ask me, working through the adrenaline of an OIS, after the adrenaline of a lengthy pursuit, then having to snap out of it and go into medical mode is very difficult and something I have myself experience on several occasions. Regardless of what you may or may not believe, the ethical thing to do is apply first aid/trauma care to the level which you are trained on a person you have just shot. This is important because LEO are out there to save lives as much as they are to protect society, sometimes you have to save a person from their actions by shooting them, if you happen to not have killed them then you should be putting your medical training to good use. Officer Hebbs did the right thing yelling at his boot to watch the other woman (who appears to have been shot as well) and to go hands on to put a tourniquet on the BG to save his life.
Whoever was the second responding officer decided to go hands on with the BG to put handcuffs on him. I originally thought it was the boot but watching the boot’s body camera it was not him. Either way, no gloves. Then Officer Hebbs goes hands on and ends up not only getting his nice ventilation mesh boots all bloody, but he gets his hands all bloody. Why did he not put his gloves on? Did he have gloves to put on? Did other officers have gloves to put on? Is this standard practice of the LVMPD to not use gloves in these types of situations? I really hope not. The fact is that given the time difference if Officer Hebbs put gloves on and then put a tourniquet on he may have been able to do so in one minute and thirty seconds or so from the moment of first shot. That is still well below two minutes which will still give the BG more of a chance at life than he really deserves, but is entitled to since we respect the rule of law and due process. Without getting into all the obvious blood-related transfer of diseases I would like to point out the medicine required for a blood contamination are so volatile to a person’s constitution which does normally cause officers from being able to work, or function outside of a bathroom for days, if not weeks. I watched several co-workers go through rounds of those detox medications and I will tell you that you do not ever want to experience that type of medically induced situation. The serious issue is obvious, getting a disease like HIV or something worse through blood transfer into an open cut on your hands, under your fingernails or by transfer on your face or whatnot (yes people will inadvertently scratch their faces while their hands are bloody). Always carry gloves with you, always. I recommend carrying a set of gloves on your person when you are off-duty just walking around as part of your EDC. Especially if you carry a tourniquet. Yes you carry a tourniquet for yourself first, but these types of situations occur and develop rapidly and out of nowhere, thinking is not something you’ll be doing and your autopilot will do what you are trained to do, which is the right thing – putting a tourniquet on a person who would otherwise die without one. Do not do this at the expensive of your health, your families health (potentially) or otherwise set yourself up for a bad tactical situation. What were to have happened if Officer Hebbs was doing the right thing and putting on a tourniquet on the BG and then another shooting problem occurred, if he wore gloves he could remove the gloves and have fresh/clean hands to shoot with, even shooting with gloves on may be better than shooting with hands which are covered in blood. If you have never done it, try it sometime in a controlled environment, it sucks.
So bring gloves, have gloves on you, wear gloves before putting on a tourniquet, this should not be a suggestion or a maybe, it is like carrying with a round in the chamber, you should because you have to.
As I stated in my critical assessment of the Baltimore Transit Bus Shootout having the right type of medical equipment is extremely important when the time comes to using it. You only have what you brought and I recommend ankle first aid kits (AFAK), specifically the Ryker Nylon Gear AFAK, as I have used it on duty numerous times effectively and it has a lot of functionality and modularity; most importantly in this case, a place to put gloves to use. This officer appeared to have the tourniquet simply wrapped around his ankle inside his boot. That is good, but having a purpose built piece of kit is miles above that. If you are going to do something, do not half do it. Do it right the first time.
On to Officer Foster, the boot, who did well chasing the vehicle (they obviously did not crash) and he got in the fight after his FTO led the way, excellent. What can we learn from him, specifically? Use good tactical procedure, which is predetermined between partners. Like when an officer is reloading that officer should yell reloading and the officer that is not reloading should yell cover and take up a cover position. None of that happened here. What did happen? Well the boot pointed pistol at the back of his partner for a full second as his partner was shooting at the BG. Gun up, gun down, gun in the holster, whatever, wherever, but not at your partners back. That is not only wrong it is dangerous and is a complete and utter no-go. What else is a no go? See the photo above. Top left you see the slide locked Sig pistol of Officer Hebbs, the boot is pointing his gun at a clearly non-combatant subject who is shot, NOT, at the BG who they both have just shot. He may have been looking at the BG with his head but his gun was not there. Also, aiming across his partner is a bad tactic. This is all stuff which should have been predetermined, pretrained and dryfired out if needed.
Other than the above issues, both officers did well and the situation ended without any officers being injured, while the BG was shot 19 times. That is a win, win.
Sound of in the comments!