Budo Breakdown: LE Shooting at OR School

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Recently released body cam footage shows a shooting that occurred at an Oregon school, not an active threat situation (at least it didn’t turn into one, due to the officer’s actions), but related to a custody dispute.

You really never know what is going to happen… routine situations can go bad just like….


With the Budo Breakdowns at here at IHW, I like to emphasize these extreme close quarters situations, as they represent among the highest level threats that officers face, they are not unusual occurrences, and there is basically NO training for this kind of thing within law enforcement circles: that is, a hands-on, body-contact, armed incident where the subject also has a weapon and trying to use it.

This video demonstrates exactly how chaotic, rapidly evolving, and critically dangerous such situations are – and again, NO realistic training is done for this almost profession wide. Standard range training IN NO WAY prepares officers for these kinds of situations. The material put out within law enforcement circles debriefing these things is often suspect, because the very people critiquing them – products of police in-service or academy instruction themselves – also haven’t trained for this kind of thing.

That needs to change. Arrestling has made it available for years, but was not a formal academy or in-service training program, and people like Rich D, Craig D, and Larry L are bringing this in to Oregon as well, but it needs to be the national standard.

In debriefing this, there is no disrespect meant to either of these officers, who did a great job and were decisive when it mattered most. Some points to note are only intended to spur thoughts for others who might be involved in a similar situation.

We’ve already covered that officers must train for this kind of thing to expect high level performance. That means hand-to-hand combat training with realistic, resistive dynamics and the introduction of weapons firing non-lethal training ammo under those circumstances.

This is really the biggest hurdle for this kind of training in law enforcement – it just doesn’t happen now.

As for the incident itself: when the first officer goes hands on the subject is already moving away. This creates a difficult control dynamic that requires a little catch up. Going through the door makes it difficult as well. They accomplish engagement at :25.

The “You are Under Arrest” statement is very good and best practice, well done. Some officers get very excitable in these kinds of situations and this gets glossed over. It is very important.

At the wall, :25-:27, is a perfect opportunity for a foot sweep takedown. Once again, something not generally taught or practiced in law enforcement circles.

This article at Policeone gives an inkling of the kind of institutionalized, in-service, overly-liability-averse mindset leading to exactly why such high value techniques are not taught in favor of much less workable technical instruction.

This article recommends instead the arm-bar takedown…

Take note that at :58 the officer is going for just such an arm-bar takedown. It doesn’t work. The officer actually ends up in a position very close to an old-school jujitsu technique with a combined collar/neck hold and an arm bar. Which doesn’t work, and the officer’s focus on making this technique work has drawn his attention completely away from the suspect’s right hand, which is starting to fish for the suspect’s gun.

(Note that at :30 appears to have been an opportunity for Officer 2 to have closed and engaged on the right side, thus controlling the right hand going for the gun. That’s a tough one – these things again are far more chaotic than either police defensive tactics or martial arts training approximates, so while it would have been a good option (instead of what appears to be Officer 2 trying to control the suspect’s head), it is understandable that it did not occur).

I am NOT going to tell you that arm bar takedowns don’t work. I have used them many times in my career. They are effective maneuvers under certain circumstances. This is not one of those circumstances. The suspect continually retracting his arm, bringing it in to his core, his position of strength, makes it very difficult for any officer to simply wrench it out and thereby thrown the man face down to the ground. Once already on the ground, the technique is actually more feasible, but again, situationally dependent.

This officer actually transitions very well, and oh, what’s that we see at 1:04-1:05?

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Yes, a FOOT SWEEP actually takes the suspect down. Unfortunately, his right hand is still not controlled, and the gun then becomes visible, now in his hand.

This is a critical moment for the contact officer, for that muzzle could come up oriented toward his face and he could have been summarily murdered right there. Had he disengaged – which most officers would probably have done in the exact same circumstances, he would probably would been killed or seriously injured.

He stayed engaged, which at a minimum appeared to prevent the suspect being able to turn his body and/or muzzle to engage the officers. The suspect fires two rounds at some point. Amazingly dangerous as both the officers are present and at least two people can be seen in the background when the fight begins, walking toward the parking lot. The threat to the officers and the public was immediate at this point in time.

Once again chaos rears its head and Officer 2, moving to get a better angle, appears from the body-cam footage to lose his footing and fall. The concrete visible looks smooth, and likely slippery. Reality often injects such things into actual encounters, and they can play a critical factor in violent situations that are often unaccounted for, or even dismissed by otherwise well-meaning but unknowing instructors. Training under these conditions helps prepare for them.

Officer 2 stays in the game, gets up,  and gets right to work and ends up solving this now critical problem. This is being committed to the task. Great job in staying focussed and making a good shot while his partner was still at close contact with an armed suspect. When you see the targets officers  sometimes shoot during qualifications, you would understand why they might be reticent to take  a shot with another officer in the foreground of the target, and why the officer in contact might be a bit concerned with someone behind him shooting someone he is in contact with. Both their heads are close, and I am willing to bet neither officer ever practiced anything like this, live fire or otherwise. Way to rise above the level of training and accomplish what needed to be accomplished without hesitation.

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