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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Oakland, California 08/27/2010

Fremont, Calif., police officer Todd Young and his partner's pursuit of an armed and dangerous gang member led to an exchange of pistol fire that seriously wounded Young.

June 13, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

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Andrew Barrientos shows off his forearm gang tattoos "DeCoto" and "Gangsta." Photo: Alameda County D.A.
Andrew Barrientos shows off his forearm gang tattoos "DeCoto" and "Gangsta." Photo: Alameda County D.A.

Fortunately, no one else got hurt and Young ultimately trumped Barrientos' efforts to kill him.

"One of the reasons I survived was my fighting mindset, a winning mindset, if you will. You have to keep that mindset at all times—when you're in the heat of the battle, in surgery, and in rehab. You have to fight the pain and get through it."

Young takes pains to emphasize the import of Simunition round training, crediting it as a huge factor in his survival.

"The first time you get hit in Simunition training, you’re expecting it so the adrenaline thing is working for you. You don’t feel it that much. But I noticed that the more SWAT training I did, the more it would sting when I'd get hit with M4 Simunition rounds. Those things are coming out at a pretty good clip and they hurt, especially when they hit your fingers on a cold day. But they reinforce the desire not to get hit by them—Also, I hate washing pink paint out of my SWAT gear—but more than that they condition you to fight through whatever pain you are experiencing and stay in the fight."

Young notes that both he and Tang did everything that they'd expected of themselves during such an operation.

"Neither of us rose to the occasion," he notes. "Both of us fell to our level of training."

Faced with a similar situation again, Young would do one thing differently: He would have retained his SWAT gear after the DEA operation.

"I had my M4 with an EOTech holographic weapon sight in the car, but unfortunately that was where it remained when I went after the guy. I'm pretty good with the weapon and believe that even wounded I would have taken out the suspect even at 60 yards and prevented any civilians from being harmed. I wouldn’t have had to fire a bunch of times to hit him."

Beyond such objective appraisals, Young doesn't Monday morning quarterback himself on the incident; at times, he and his friends have even found humor in what happened.

"Later on we could laugh about some of it," Young says. "Guys would say of the suspect, 'He was running? Hell, man, he was waddling! And you couldn't hit him?' The female officer who'd helped me in the patrol unit did a presentation at a Women Leaders in Law Enforcement conference. She joked to some 500 hundred people that here she was worried that I was about to pass out and die and this 'tough son-of-a-bitch' is monitoring radio communication and correcting suspect information as it’s being broadcast. That kind of thing ultimately takes the edge off of things and makes you feel better."

There was one conversation that was more difficult. The one when he returned home from the hospital and was called on the broken promise he'd made to his six-year-old daughter.

"Daddy," she said, hands on her waist and head shaking back and forth in an admonishing manner. "I thought you said that you wouldn't get shot. That good guys don't get shot."

"Yeah, I got shot," he conceded sheepishly before offering his best defensive reminder. "But, hey, I didn't die."

Young might have felt sheepish fessing up to having broken his promise, but more than that he was grateful that he was still around to do it.

He shares his story with other officers in the hope that they won't have to break similar promises to their children.

What Would You Do?

Put yourself in the shoes of Officer Todd Young of the Fremont (Calif.) Police Department and responding members of the Oakland Police Department, and consider the following questions:

  • Are you more apt to wait for EMS units to respond, or to roll the officer yourself? What are the pros and cons?
  • Confronted with the same situation, would you attempt to stop the subject then and there? What other options might you explore?
  • The subject was armed with an extended magazine. What is your agency's policy on carrying them? Do you have any available to you?


Todd Young's Long Road Back

Returning To Duty: Todd Young (photos)

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Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

steve graham @ 6/14/2012 11:39 AM

Man don't beat youself up. All things considered you did an outstanding job. I'm retired military with time in combat and combat pistol and rifle instructor and I understand the stress of that situation, job well done and hang in there Partner. Great story, Thanks

Random @ 6/14/2012 3:02 PM

Sorry to hear you had some trouble. You are appreciated for your respectful attitude and professional behavior.

TripWire @ 6/14/2012 3:16 PM

Your story is as uplifting and encouraging as it is tragic. I was wounded in Afghanistan while on routine patrol and had to fight on for 30 mins. The docs said that the only reason that I survived was because I was so pissed off that I got shot. For me, the rehab was worse than getting hit, my therapist was worse than a drill sergeant. Stories like yours are what keeps us all going on man, keep up the fight.

Lt Dan @ 6/14/2012 5:52 PM

Its really tough getting a bead on a bobbing moving target, I've tried and it ain't like training or the movies! Its a natural process to second guess yourself, don't let it eat you up. If you run into another situation you'll have some additional knowledge you didn't have before.
Look at it as a learning experience. :-) Glad to hear you're recovered and back on the job.

As far as waiting for EMS, forget it. Pile into a squad car and GO!! You'll die waiting for EMS.

Sgtfriday @ 6/15/2012 5:58 AM

Sounds like they did what they had to. Glad he survived!

DEADMAN @ 6/17/2012 12:38 PM

We all second guess ourselves,especially when one of the bad guys get away,albeit only for a short time.There can also be things in the scenario that we didn't count on or figure into the equation but the important thing that matters the most was that with your survival mode working in high gear,you were able to survive and go home to your family and hold them against you,for all its worth.Glad you're on the road to a full recovery,the bad guy is in prison for life and that you still have a positive attitude.i hope you can be able to use this to help other officers in their futures,it's important that they get the information that you have to offer.
Good Luck & God Bless

Lefko @ 9/6/2012 9:54 PM

Nice work sheepdog. Way to stay with it and not give up. Thanks for your story and inspiring all of us out here. (from a northern calif copper).

eurik soto @ 9/21/2012 8:45 PM

wow amazing story, cant wait till i get through the academy and finally be an officer and get to do this.

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