This incident was close to home – just a few miles from Triumph Systems Headquarters. Regardless of proximity to our place of work, certainly worthy of discussion as there are many learning points.
Here’s the gist: last week in Ladue (MO) Police responded to a shoplifter call at a local grocery store. When police arrived on site, they were unable to detain / arrest the suspect. In effort to stop the shoplifter, the officer on site attempted to deploy her Taser, but instead deployed her handgun. This negligence ended with the shoplifter being shot. Click here for the article.
The net result is that 1) the shoplifter will survive, 2) this incident will cost the city of Ladue a lot of money (tax dollars a good work), and 3) the officer is being charged with felony second-degree assault (and faces 1 – 7 years in prison if convicted).
While I don’t have much sympathy for the shoplifter, she was not harming anyone and did not deserve to be shot. That said, don’t be dumb - both shoplifting and not being complicit with Police both things not to do.
I’m typically not one to armchair quarterback or second-guess the operator in the field…. But, from what I’m read and heard, this incident screams negligence by both the officer and the city. That said, all the facts have not been disclosed so we will have to wait and see how this plays out in court. My prediction is that both (the officer and the city) will pay a significant price.
What lessons can be drawn from this:
o Repetition: drawing and engaging (both lethal and less-than-lethal) should be as instinctual as walking and talking on the phone. In my words, “don’t train until you get it right. Train until you can’t get it wrong.”
o Train to a standard: municipalities should train to defined standards and require periodic testing. In my words, “training is meaningless if designed to simply ‘check the box’”.
o Gear placement: one way to mitigate negligence displayed here is to set up gear where deployment of less-than-lethal requires a cross draw – this is a common SOP for many municipalities (I’m not sure if this is the case in Ladue or not).
Remember that as Americans it is our right to carry and if you choose to (whether because it’s your Second Amendment Right or because you’re a Law Enforcement Officer), it’s your responsibility to do so safely.
As always, train hard and stay frosty!