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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Shooting of Michael Brown / Some Aspects Trouble Me


There are some aspects of the Michael Brown shooting that trouble me.  As a former deputy sheriff, FBI Agent and FBI firearms instructor, I would not have reacted as Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, did; and I’ll tell you why.

This is not a criticism of Officer Wilson.  He probably reacted appropriately and in accord with his training.

When I was in law enforcement, the weapon of the day (really not that long ago) was a .357 magnum revolver.  It held six rounds.  By training and experience, a deputy or an Agent knew exactly how many rounds / bullets had been fired, and how many live rounds remained available - at all times.  Now, I’d be willing to wager, cops involved in shootings generally have no idea.  If someone, after the shooting of Michael Brown, had asked Wilson how many shots he’d fired from his semi-automatic’s large capacity clip, he would have probably shrugged his shoulders.

With the large capacity clips, I can say with certainty, law enforcement training has been downgraded (in my opinion) to maximize firepower over marksmanship and related tactics.

Would I have killed Michael Brown under the same circumstances?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I probably would not have started firing at the distances reported, and probably fired no more than twice before making a split second evaluation of the effect.  First, Wilson knew, or apparently knew, that Brown did not have a weapon.  Secondly, a properly placed bullet will stop someone at very close range, if you’re confident in hitting what you are shooting at.  However, I would not have let Brown engage me in some sort of wrestling match for the possession of my firearm.  As I’ve said before, many cops are killed with their own gun.

The other troubling aspect is Wilson’s approach to Brown.  Reportedly, Wilson knew that Brown was a suspect in a ‘strong-arm’ robbery.  Wilson should never have allowed the suspect to get so close to him when he (Wilson) was still seated in his vehicle.  And, apparently, Wilson attempted to talk to Brown through the rolled-down window of his patrol car.  That was his first mistake.  I guess that Wilson’s explanation was that when he attempted to get out of his vehicle, Brown pushed the door closed, and then began to assault Wilson through the open window.  Regardless, Wilson was too close to Brown while still in his vehicle.

This is a tragedy for everyone concerned.  Wilson was recently asked if he would have done anything differently.  He responded that he would not have.  My thought is of course he would have.  His career and personal life are in tatters, and he narrowly escaped prosecution.

It is reported that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system.  To my knowledge, MJ does not cause the type of behavior he exhibited on that fateful day.  Brown, from all indications, was an angry, possibly mentally impaired, individual looking for trouble.  It cost him his life.  Yes, he was just eighteen; and that is sad.  But, he was dangerous nonetheless.  If he had reached Wilson, he could have potentially killed a police officer who was only trying to do his job.


True Nelson