FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.

Security Policy and the Cloud

Ask The Expert

Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

June 2016 (2)
May 2016 (3)
April 2016 (2)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (3)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
November 2015 (5)
October 2015 (1)
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)
Patrol

Video: Justified Deadly Force In D.C.

A vehicle presenting a lethal threat allows officers to use deadly force.

October 08, 2013  |  by Jon Adler

VIDEO: Officers Fire at Suspect In D.C. Chase

Law enforcement's use of deadly force at the end of the U.S. Capitol pursuit may not satisfy the mainstream media or other second guessers, but it was the proper response to a lethal situation.

Based on what we know publicly, a volatile subject attempted to breach a White House security barrier on Oct. 3 by ramming a black Infiniti into it. When the subject failed, they rammed a responding radio car, and struck a U.S. Secret Service agent. The subject then exposed the officers to great risk by speeding away at high speed in a reckless manner. The subject ultimately crashed the vehicle into a U.S. Capitol Police barricade. Officers stopped the potentially lethal threat by appropriately deploying their firearms.

Notice my reference to the individual who initiated the lethal scenario as a "subject." Responding officers were confronted by a potentially lethal threat, rather than a young attractive woman with her child in the rear seat. In assessing the appropriate level of force in this situation, gender should not be considered. All hands and feet are equally potentially lethal when applied to the steering wheel and gas pedal respectively. Inevitably, the news media's bias drew upon the subject's gender and appearance to criticize the level of force used.

Regarding the child in the vehicle, no one envies the officers who were on scene during the initial and final vehicular attacks. We don't know whether the officers were able to see the child in the back seat, especially considering window visibility factors. The officers demonstrated remarkable restraint when the subject first attempted to breach the security using her vehicle as a lethal weapon.

The presence of the child should be viewed as a potential victim of the subject's lethal behavior, and the officers should be commended for rescuing her without injury. History has shown us that subjects exuding irrational, lethal behavior have exploited children to accomplish their deadly objectives. The presence of a child, as heart wrenching as it may be, doesn't reduce the level of threat posed by the subject.

In terms of the use of deadly force, federal law enforcement officers follow the same policy and concept. We discharge our weapons as a last resort to stop a potentially lethal threat, and prevent serious bodily injury or loss of life.

Based on what is known, the officers used the appropriate level of force considering their reasonable perception of the threat level initiated by the subject. Based on her volatile use of the Infiniti, and the fact that she rammed government property and federal officers, she posed a potentially lethal threat to the officers. The subject also posed a lethal threat to those in the immediate area, including the child in her vehicle, by driving in a reckless manner.

While it was obvious that the subject used her vehicle in a hazardous manner to gain unauthorized entry to government property, there was no way to discern whether the vehicle contained any explosive material or other weapons that could have fatally wounded the officers or bystanders. Officers assess available threat indicators in micro-seconds and react accordingly.

Critics often ask why officers didn't shoot at the tires. The answer is that law enforcement tactics don't follow Hollywood fiction. They must respond in the real world. Warning shots and shooting at tires are usually prohibited by agency policy because they pose a greater threat to those in the immediate area. Shooting at tires would create a dangerous ricochet swarm that exposes anyone in the immediate area to significant risk.

The officers should be commended for their performance. The second-guessing, "could have" committee will draw upon the subject's publicized mental health history, and somehow suggest the officers should have known this and tempered their response. That's nonsense. There's no pause button for an officer to hit while being confronted by a lethal threat. Law enforcement officers receive training on how to deal with subjects with known mental illness, but in this situation, the officers needed to objectively assess what was known at the time of the attacks and respond appropriately.

While the loss of life is regrettable, it's fortuitous that no law enforcement officers or innocent civilians were killed. The Secret Service and Capitol Police have a very dangerous job, and they carry out their respective high-risk missions with the utmost degree of professionalism. I applaud them for their unwavering service to our country, and for confronting volatile subjects to keep us safe.


Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine