When calling 911 goes wrong

According the kgw.com, a man who called 911 about a shooting suspect ended up getting shot by responding officers in Vancouver, Washington last week. The incident started when John Kendall, 59, shot his neighbor, Abigail Mounce, in the face on October 31. Officers spotted the man who’d called 911, not knowing he was still in the area.

A SWAT team arriving at the scene spotted a man who matched Kendall’s description. They were unaware that the citizen who called 911 was still there.

 

“Law enforcement personnel watched as the citizen (believed to be Kendall) exited his vehicle and circled behind his trunk,” police explained. “Fearing that he armed himself, law enforcement fired multiple shots at the individual in order to stop the perceived threat before the citizen could enter the woods.”
via Police mistakenly shoot 911 caller during manhunt.

Now I could be wrong but, I suspect there are a lot of cops who will find this acceptable/justifiable given the circumstances. You’ve traced the suspect’s phone to the area. The person in view allegedly looks like your suspect. And he looks like he’s potentially arming himself.

The man was shot in the leg. He took cover behind a gravel pile and fired a shot back, then he called 911 again, this time to report that he had been shot.

via Police mistakenly shoot 911 caller during manhunt.

There’s so much fail here but, I’m glad the citizen survived. He’s lucky. Very lucky. Chances are high, the leg wound is a result of an excited officer shooting at an unknown distance, resulting in the shot going low.  I say that because shooting him in the leg intentionally is surely a violation of policy and demonstrably, did nothing to eliminate the threat of him shooting at anyone. This is why we do not shoot to wound.

Fortunately, things didn’t go any further than the initial exchange of gunfire. The officers involved have been relieved of duty pending an investigation. By the time officers caught up with Kendall, the real suspect, he’d already turned himself off with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I might argue this error is big enough that they might not get to be cops any more but, I don’t believe this was criminal behavior on their part.

All that said, there’s something to be learned here. Starting with, DON’T BE THERE. If you have just called 911 to say you saw a guy involved in a shooting, don’t be in the area when the police show up if you can help it! I’ve said before that if I am ever involved in a shooting, even if I am just a witness, my preferred action is to move to a safe location other than the shooting, and then call 911. Police responding to a shooting in progress can be a little excited. That’s normal and that’s OK but, it presents some hazards if you happen to resemble the suspect. It presents hazards even if you don’t resemble the suspect. So again, just don’t be there.

-GM

One thought on “When calling 911 goes wrong

  1. Because we carry or have a phone we have a citizen’s duty but Is this a case of the citizen trying to be the LEO? Like you said, Gary. Leave the scene once contact with 911 has been made but we have so many folks who do not know when to draw the line. Especially when a third party incident is in the works. We know intuitively when a bad guy is approaching us with the intention of doing us and/or our family harm there is a “turn on” point where everything goes full steam ahead. There is a time when we must become proactive and take charge. But, when the threat is terminated we need to stop being the police and start being the reporter. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How needs to become second nature. The reason we are here is because we are part of a group who chooses to do something and that is to stay alive in the face of the demon. To insure we stay alive we also have to know when to back up and secure the scene by moving away from it.

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