A flashlight jabbed into the suspect’s neck or face area can keep him from taking your gun.
Editor's Note: Watch Al Abidin's "Improvised Backup Weapons" at POLICE TV.
On October 16, 2009 an emotionally disturbed man grabbed Constable Matt Allcroft's gun and ripped it along with the holster, completely off the officer's belt.
Allcroft and his partner Constable Matt Friscolanti of the Hamilton (Ont.) Police Department in Canada were responding to a 911 call for a domestic dispute.
The suspect was six feet tall, 220 pounds, and in his mid 40s.
As both Allcroft and Friscolanti approached the man, who was standing near a highway, he suddenly grabbed Allcroft's gun.
This life-and-death battle lasted several minutes and required both of the officers and three bystanders to subdue the man and wrestle the gun from his grip.
At the end of the day, both of the officers went home. However, that's not always the case when a suspect grabs an officer's gun.
After all, this was an attempt on the officer's life and, according to the FBI's Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 2007 report, one out of every 28 U.S. officers killed in the line duty was killed with his or her own firearm.
When you're involved in a life-and-death battle where someone is grabbing your gun, anything in your hand can be used as an equalizer to help you gain control of your gun and gain control of the suspect by striking him in the face or head.
I realize that your first line of defense will most likely be a backup weapon. But the focus of this article will be on what you can do if you already have something in your hand that could be a powerful improvised weapon.
Counter the Grab
As soon as someone tries to grab your gun, immediately grab it yourself to forcefully keep it in your holster. Don't rely on your triple retention holster alone to keep your gun retained.
As you grab your gun, make some strong verbal commands to the suspect. Something along the lines of, "Stop grabbing my gun," or "Don't grab my gun," should suffice. To witnesses and later on in court your verbal commands will make it more apparent that you first tried to stop the suspect without excessive use of force. Your verbal command could also distract the suspect long enough for you to strike his face or head with an improvised backup weapon.
In the middle of your verbal command to the suspect, tightly grip the object in your non-dominant hand as you prepare to use it as an improvised weapon. Having a tight grip will allow you to strike the suspect several times if necessary.
In this gun grab encounter, you have already grabbed your gun, you've given a verbal command, and you've tightened your grip on the object in your hand. Realize that for these strikes to make the suspect stop grabbing your gun, you'll need to have power in your movement. Here is a simple two-step drill to help you use your bodyweight to give you a more powerful strike.
Step 1: Crunch Your Stomach
Explosively crunch your stomach, which will make your body bend at the waist. This will bring your upper torso forward so that your weight can be forcefully delivered into your strike. When you do this move, you'll be bringing your head and upper body closer to the suspect.
Step 2: Stomp Your Foot
To add force to the crunch, step across your body, toward the suspect, stomping your foot when it touches the ground. This will bring more momentum and power to your strike. The stomp ends the movement that the crunch began.
Along with this crunch-and-stomp move, quickly bring the open palm of your non-dominant hand up to where the suspect's face or head is likely to be when he grabs your gun.
Note: I'm having you use your open palm just to learn this two-step drill. When you actually use this tactic, you'll have an improvised weapon in your hand.
Your hand should quickly deliver several powerful strikes into the suspect. Quickly and forcefully strike the suspect's face or head, extending your hand about three inches during the strike. Then bring your hand back just as quickly and strike again if necessary to make the suspect stop grabbing your gun. Your hand should move in a jabbing motion with power.
This move by itself is similar to the open-palm strikes used so effectively in World War II. Most recently this palm strike can be seen in the self-defense system of Hikuta.
For maximum effectiveness, be sure that your hand is not winding up. In other words, don't move backward before moving forward. This wastes valuable time and can be recognized and avoided by the suspect. You can also twist your body back and forth to make it harder for him to hold on.
Later, we'll combine a weapon with the power move as an effective way to use improvised backup weapons.