Video of an LAPD Northeast Division pursuit of GTA suspects – officer involved shooting – collision – and my partial analysis

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Northeast is a wonderful diverse division to patrol in, it was my favorite. There are many decent residents, but lots of criminals. Back in 1991 I was involved in a shootout very near to where this incident occurred.

Kudos to these officers for staying in the fight. However I will add just a few of my own observations that the commander and captain understandably did not speak about. Although these areas will certainly become part of their investigation, and eventually these officers will be informed if their shooting was in policy, or out of policy. Nonetheless it’s important for the general public to understand how difficult it can be for police officers. It’s one thing to experience the shooting itself. But it’s another phase and level of stress to deal with the administrative aftermath. As I’ve said before. The criminals, they don’t play by the rules. But police officers are shackled by laws, and treated like fools.

Unless their policies have changed since I’ve left, in every officer involved shooting (OIS), LAPD officers are evaluated primarily in three areas of focus.

  1. The tactics that led up to the shooting
  2. The unholstering and exhibiting of the firearm, and
  3. The actual use of deadly force.

You could be found to be ‘in policy’ in areas two and three, but still be found ‘out of policy’ in area one, or vice versa. I’ve been in a handful of shootings myself, and it’s not easy to toe that thin blue line, without ever being out of policy in area one.

Additionally, bear in mind that the LAPD also has a policy that states officers shall “generally not shoot at moving vehicles.”

Another area to examine is when an LAPD officer needs more officers to respond to their incident, they can make those requests known over the radio in four different ways.

  1. Officer needs an ‘additional unit’ (this is a low priority request, one unit will eventually respond)
  2. Officer needs ‘back up’ (this means there is a sense of urgency, the officer can request more than one unit, as he or she needs)
  3. Officer needs ‘assistance’ (this is a higher sense of urgency, and one officer can be authorized to roll code 3, while all other officers available in that Division will respond, but not code-3)
  4. Officer needs “help.” A ‘help call’ is the scariest call to hear over the radio. That means an officer is down, or they are in eminent threat of life.

When the “help” call is put out over the radio, the cavalry comes, and oh do they come. Some will be assigned to roll code three (lights and siren, being exempt from certain traffic laws), while others drive taking variable levels of risks to get there. The objective is get there fast, but to get there safely.

It was interesting that the officers in the below video put out an “officers need help” call. A “help” call is tantamount to other police agencies using the radio code such as “11-99” or “999,” which usually means “officer down.”

There were times when my partner wanted put out a “help” call, when I believed it should have only been an officer needs “assistance” call. Nonetheless officers must be very careful when making this decision. Because other officers might take unreasonable risks to get there. For example.

Back on December 13th, 1988, LAPD robbery detectives in the Skidrow area were following suspicious suspects, so they requested “back up” over the radio. Tragically while two different police vehicles were responding, one of them drove dangerously, and collided head-on with another patrol unit. Consequently three police officers died in that one collision. The impact was so severe, that an LAPD shield was found away from the officers body, still pinned to a piece of the officers uniform shirt, which was torn away by the impact force. Had those detectives put out an officers need “assistance” or “help” call, they probably would have regretted doing do, and might have even felt peripherally responsible for their deaths. But since they reasonably requested a “back up,” they can have a clear conscience.

Back to this video.

In the pursuit seen in the below video, these officers chose to put out an “officer needs help” call. Which means every LAPD officer in that bureau of four divisions would have been rolling to their location (and probably other divisions from another bureau, and probably many unsafely). Needless to say that can become very dangerous, especially if the officers are very young, as were the officers in the December 13th triple fatality collision.

I’m not going to say the officers in this video should not have radioed a “help” call, because I was not in their patrol car. But I will say that I know many (perhaps most) police officers would not have.

Having said all that. Unless their policy has changed, the area these officers are likely to be found ‘out of policy’ in, is shooting at a moving vehicle. Before pulling the trigger, an officer is tasked to consider the LAPD acronym BALKS . The ‘B’ meaning their background, the ‘A’ for the suspects age, the ‘L’ for last resort, the ‘K’ for knowledge, and the ‘S’ for the seriousness of the crime or threat (I told you it wasn’t easy). Although since cop-killers are much younger today, I believe they should eliminate the ‘A.’

Let’s examine the ‘B.” Again the “B” in BALKS standing for “background.” Take note that this occurred in a residential area. And the many vehicles that were parked in front of these homes, indicates these homes were surely occupied. Even if the shooting officer was an LAPD “Distinguished Expert” (a DX shooter), it would be very difficult to strike the suspect that was firing at them (or the driver), while shooting from a moving vehicle at another moving vehicle, during a pursuit. How many homes were struck with bullets? How many bullets penetrated walls entering the homes? During a shooting, and after a shooting, an officer must give an account for every bullet that leaves their gun barrel (I told you it wasn’t easy).

However even if this officer is found ‘out of policy’ for shooting at a moving vehicle (from a moving vehicle), the discipline shouldn’t be more than ‘additional training required.’ Thank you LAPD Media Division for your well-done video, and thank you officers for taking these suspects off our streets.

In closing to born-again Christians. Remember to pray for the safety of the officers in your city. But more importantly, pray for their salvation as you share the Gospel with them (my Gospel tract can be seen below this video). For more LAPD related posts, click on my LAPD tag here.



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