Monday, August 27, 2012

Help! Police!

Be sure of your target and what is beyond it...

Many years ago world-renowned firearms instructor Jeff Cooper established some simple and universal rules for all gun handlers.  Those of us who passed through his school were told in no uncertain terms that we must make these four rules elements of our character.

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Is it possible that the NYPD does not teach these rules to their officers?

At 9:03 am Friday 24 August 2012 Jeffrey Johnson confronted former coworker Steven Ercolino as he arrived at Hazan Imports on West 33rd Street in New York City.  They had never gotten along and Johnson blamed Ercolino for his being laid off 18 months earlier.  Johnson drew a pistol and shot Ercolino five times in the head.  Johnson then concealed his pistol and walked away.  Alerted by a witness two NYPD police officers pursued Johnson as walked down Fifth Avenue in front of the Empire State Building.  As veteran officers Craig Matthews and Robert Sinishtaj approached Johnson he drew his pistol as he turned and pointed it at them.  Matthews and Sinishtaj drew their sidearms and fired a total of 16 shots in Johnson’s direction.  Their bullets hit Johnson nine times and he collapsed to the sidewalk where he died moments later.  Problem solved.

Just one more thing.  Matthews and Sinishtaj also wounded nine bystanders with their fusillade, striking three with pistol bullets and injuring six others with bullet fragments.  We may take some comfort in the knowledge that none of the bystanders’ injuries appear to be life-threatening but that is certainly the result of dumb luck, not the skill at arms demonstrated by Matthews and Sinishtaj, two of the professional marksmen the NYPD has on offer.  Johnson certainly had to be stopped but this was a sad piece of work on the part of these public safety officers, their trainers, and their leaders.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez