Houston honors its longest serving officer

MrThomasHPD
People outside the department and younger officers who have come on in the last few years won’t know the name but, just about anyone who served with the Houston Police Department prior to 2011 should know or at least know of Mr. Edward Thomas. Mr. Thomas is FINALLY receiving recognition by the Houston Police Department and the city. Mr. Edward Thomas was the longest serving officer with the Houston Police Department. He was also the oldest active officer in the country at the time of his retirement at age 91 and 65 years of service. He’s a WWII veteran who served in Normandy and was the first black officer hired by the Houston Police Department.

Mr. Thomas joined the Department in 1948 and was a mentor to a great many officers, especially the black officers who followed him, including my own father who joined in 1962. In those days, black officers were not allowed to drive department cars. They could not attend rollcall with white officers. They also could not eat with white officers at most public restaurants. Nor could they arrest a white person. And if they made an arrest, they had to board a city bus with their prisoner, and walk him into the jail themselves. Some of these policies were in place with the department all the way up to the mid 1970s. Times have changed for the better in many ways and the department is recognizing Mr. Thomas by asking City Council to rename the HPD headquarters at 1200 Travis in his honor.

-GM

Be aware of your threat/target, be aware of those around you…

 

“The preliminary indications are that this is going to be a ‘friendly fire’ incident,” said Victor Senties, a Houston police spokesman.

Read More at Gunshot leaves officer injured after SW Houston chase – Houston Chronicle.

This isn’t a reflection on a particular agency. It’s just the latest such incident. Fortunately, this officer will survive. I know of at least one officer involved shooting in which one officer ended up shooting his own partner in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The incident led to changes in policy and training for that agency. But the lessons here apply to all of us who go armed.

Knowing your target and what’s beyond is a cardinal rule of gun handling. But, People have a strange tendency to get excited in shootings. As a result, they don’t all  stand still waiting to be shot or allowing you to conveniently re-orient yourself around them to engage a threat. They may run right into you or, in the case of fratricide I mentioned earlier, someone could stand right up in front of your muzzle as you’re breaking a shot.

We can’t make the world hold still conveniently for us to shoot an orderly array of targets those we see on the range. But we can and should seek training that exposes us to a reasonable approximation of what can and does happen in the real world. People are often willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new gun but, wince at the idea of spending that same amount on training that might help them avoid negligently shooting an innocent bystander, family member, or friend should they find it necessary to use deadly force in their home, office, or in public.  We as civilians are not immune to these issues as at least one CHL holder learned the hard way several years ago in a Family Dollar store in Houston.

Be honest with yourself. plan and train accordingly.

-GM

Thoughts on Dallas PD shooting video

So a friend posted the video below, saying it made her blood boil. Fact is, I am not convinced she’s got anything to be upset about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always tragic when we as civilians or the police have to use deadly force. While tragic, it isn’t necessarily wrong.

In this video, the decedent’s mother answers the door for the police. When asked what’s wrong, the mother says her son is “just off the chain,” “incoherent, “talking about chopping up people,” and “bi-polar schizo” when the decedent appears right behind her with a screwdriver in hand. That’s a really important fact. The screwdriver is a potential weapon with at least a 4-inch long tip. If you don’t think a screwdriver that long won’t go right through a typical Level IIA or Level III vest and potentially kill the person wearing said vest, you’re wrong. It may as well be a prison yard shank and it’s just as deadly as a knife and unlike a gun, it doesn’t run out of ammo.

When, the decedent appeared at the door with the screwdriver in hand, we clearly hear both officers calmly tell the decedent to put the screwdriver down. We hear the decedent’s mother start screaming his name, “James!” And we see the decedent moving toward other officer in the video. We can’t see the decedent’s hands in the video. However, the change in tone of the officers’ voices and that of the decedent’s mother strongly suggest that the decedent wasn’t putting down the screwdriver as we see him move toward that second officer and his own mother, both of whom start moving away. It’s only then that we hear the first officer fire four rounds in a little bit more than a second. Then we see the decedent on the ground still moving as the officer continues to tell him to “drop the it.” The officers then make radio calls for help and go through the process of securing the scene which is exactly what they are supposed to do.

Now, one MIGHT be able to argue that a taser might have been a better alternative than shooting the decedent. That is debatable. I’d also say it’s an argument ignorant of the fact that tasers are typically a one shot, all or nothing device that doesn’t always work as advertised. If the taser failed to stun the decedent in this situation, the officer wouldn’t have time to insert a new stun cartridge to fire another set of darts in time to prevent the decedent from stabbing the second officer or his own mother with the screwdriver.

Legally and practically, the question will come down to whether the officer reasonably believed the decedent was using or attempting to use unlawful deadly force against the officer himself or a third person. The video, to me at least, strongly suggests the answer is yes. Under the law, the use of deadly force in that situation is justified and you’ll be hard pressed to find a grand jury to return an indictment (true bill) against the officer or anyone else in the same situation. Even if you did get a grand jury to indict him, nothing about this video suggests brutality, racism, or even glee on the part of the officers about the idea of shooting someone.

Yes, it is tragic the man died. And it is truly sad that his mental illness as well as his and apparently his mother’s inability to manage that illness led her to call the police to come deal with it. Mentally ill or not, if he’s moving toward the officer or someone else with a weapon in hand, the officer will react to a threat to their own lives or anyone else’s based on their training, the law, and a human instinct for self-preservation. And again, it will boil down to whether or not the officer’s actions are reasonable. But, if anyone wants to argue that what the officer did was wrong, please, give me a logical and factual counter argument.

-GM

ATF is moving to ban common rifle ammo

News has been circulating lately that the ATF has proposed a change to how they define “sporting purpose” to effectively ban M855 and SS109 ammunition. This is clearly in response to the huge growth in popularity of AR15 based pistols and SBRs but, the bigger concern is that it creates conditions to effectively ban all ammunition…certainly nearly all rifle ammunition because it can be argued that nearly all rifle ammunition is capable of piercing some armor and is therefore “armor piercing.” In addition to this, we now have “pistol” versions of many, if not most, popular rifle platforms such as the AR15/AR10, FN FAL, and HK G3.

Specifically, the ATF has stated they will only grant the “sporting purpose” exemption to two categories of ammunition going forward:

Category I: .22 Caliber Projectiles

A .22 caliber projectile that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B) will be considered to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” under section 921(a)(17)(C) if the projectile weighs 40 grains or less AND is loaded into a rimfire cartridge.

 

Category II: All Other Caliber Projectiles

Except as provided in Category I (.22 caliber rimfire), projectiles that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition will be presumed to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” under section 921(a)(17)(C) if the projectile is loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun. ATF nevertheless retains the discretion to deny any application for a “sporting purposes” exemption if substantial evidence exists that the ammunition is not primarily intended for such purposes.

It is clear that the Obama Administration, with no means to enact new gun control through Congress, is using the ATF to infringe on the 2nd Amendment. All that said, the ATF claims they will accept and “carefully consider all comments, as appropriate, received on or before March 16, 2015.” The ATF will not acknowledge receipt of comments. Comments can be submitted in any of three ways (do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method):

ATF email: APAComments@atf.gov

Fax: (202) 648-9741.

Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and Services, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070.

-GM

Quanell X goes through use of force training…

Can’t wait to see this! Quanell X, like so many others, has run his mouth for years about what is and is not a justifiable use of force with no knowledge or experience on which to base his assumptions. We’ve seen another “activist” go through this recently and unsurprisingly, he found himself lighting folks up like the 4th of July. I strongly suspect Quanell will have a similar experience but, the question is, will he be honest about his experience and will it cause him to look at things differently?

-GM