Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bullet count only part of the ringside story ..

I fired dozens of bullets yesterday .. or at least simulated bullets .. while testing just one scenario at Summit County's Fire Arms Training Simulator (a big computer called "FATS") for a story about how our local officers train for split-second decisions.

In that one scene, a man ran from his car .. then turned around and opened fire on me. I was amazed at how many shots I got off in milli-seconds. Computer or not, my heart got pumping as I was ducking (literally) and returning fire.

In another scenario, I reloaded several times and lost count of the number of shots I fired during a shootout. In a third scenario, a man raised a gun and I shot him before he could get off a round at me.

What's it all mean? I don't know. But it's stayed with me the last 24 hours.

With the shooting of Jeffrey Stephens still fresh in everyone's minds, I was trying to put myself in the shoes of the officers who shot him 22 times when Stephens didn't drop a gun near his home on Celina Avenue.

I tried to imagine how quickly these cops had to make a decision while responding to a call of "shots fired."

I tried to empathise with the pressure they were under to find a neighborhood gunman while not knowing if anyone had already been shot.

I tried to feel what they were feeling when they saw Stephens with a gun.

Guess what?

I failed.

I have no idea.

With all the second-guessing that everyone is doing right now, I'm convinced there's no way to know what the officers were thinking and feeling. There's no doubt they were responding to an active shooter call .. and confronted a man with a loaded gun. They claim he aimed it at them and they opened fire to stop the threat. They say they had no choice under the circumstances.

What would any of us have done? We just don't know.

Still 22 shots is a lot. A whole lot. A lot for a family and a community to accept. A lot even to report.

The only comparison that came to mind for me at the range yesterday was that of a boxing match.

Trade the guns for gloves for a second. You believe that your opponent is about to hit you, so do you swing once and then check to see if he's injured? Do you swing twice and see if he's knocked out? Or do you keep swinging as hard and as fast as you can until you can tell that he's no longer standing with gloves raised ready to take your head off?

Most boxers can't tell you how many jabs they threw and landed before knocking out their opponent. They just know that they were threatened in the ring and they followed their training to knock out the threat.

In a way, these officers did the same thing ... but no matter how many pairs I try on, I can't put myself in their shoes.

I just can't.

And I can't imagine how these officers and this family must be feeling.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

all he had to do was to "comply" with a lawful order and he wouldn't be full of lead. The lack of respect for officers is sickening. That was not the way I was raised.
"Better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by 6"

Ben said...

I am almost always going to side with the police.

Swanny said...

Let's put this in perspective. The APD officers carry Glocks which have a magazine capacity of 17 rounds. They usually carry one in the chamber as well, giving them a total of 18 shots. There were two officers, so double that -- 36 total shots available to them. They encountered an armed suspect who did not comply with their orders and went for his gun. In my opinion, 22 shots showed a lot more restraint than I would have.

Four NYPD cops shot Amadou Diallo a total of 41 times, and he was UNARMED. The were all acquitted of any wrongdoing at trial.

Cindy said...

Eric,
I hope you have the opportunity to cover the show of support scheduled for Monday at 6:00 p.m. I think it is important for the men and women who show up to work everyday and answer the calls from the community receive support from the community. I hope there will be more standing in support of the officers on Monday than those who marched in criticism of them this week. I am thankful Akron did not have the tragedy of losing two officers that night. I am heartbroken for the little girl who's daddy never made it home that night in Twinsburg. I pray for each officer's safe return to their families at the end of each shift.

Anonymous said...

For someone who supposedly is in the National Guard, you are pretty ignorant about firing a 9mm weapon. Maybe if the police had .45 cal weapons they wouldn't have to fire so many shots to nuetralize their suspects. Oh, and before you say they should have shot him in the arm, police are trained to shoot for center mass.

Eric Mansfield said...

Dear anon

Why would I say they should have shot him the arm? And what makes you think I'm not familiar with a 9MM or firing center mass? Did you see the same story and blog post I did?

I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt that you've misunderstood my post, but I think it's more likely that you're an ignorant mess.

Feel free to call me and give me your real name and we can discuss your disagreement further.

Otherwise your anonymous comments mean very little .. and show how shallow you really are.

Stay in touch .. with reality.

Eric

Anonymous said...

You stated you were amazed on how many shots you fired in a milisecond. It is a proven fact that an intoxicated and adreniline pumping person does not go down immediately. No matter how many times he is shot. I believe you being former military you know that. I feel bad for the Stephens family, but that same family made bad decisions that morning, and it cost him his life.