Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Frame-up Fails: Walker Walks

Walker from his arrest mugshot.

Walker from his arrest mugshot. For him, the nightmare is over.

In Maryland, New Jersey detective Joseph Walker was attacked by a fat, angry thug named Joseph Harvey Jr. Harvey and his friend Adam Pidel charged Walker, despite being warned that Walker was a police officer and would shoot them. They continued, and Walker shot Harvey. Pidel then stopped, but Harvey resumed his charged (and Walker resumed shooting him, scoring two more hits). In all, Walker fired three shots and scored three boiler room hits. Harvey has gone to the place where he can no longer menace any motorists.

And the might of the State of Maryland landed hard on Walker. Police and politicians are hostile to out-of-state cops carrying in the gun-free zone (and murder hot spot) of Baltimore and elsewhere in Maryland. They can’t stop it, because a national law pre-empts them, but they can pull out all the stops to make an example of anyone who takes advantage of the Federal law to cull the native criminal class — as Walker did. And so an ambitious prosecutor mustered an at-all-costs attempt to imprison Walker on first degree murder charges, or anything else that might do the job. That attempt failed before noon today as the jury acquitted Walker on all charges.

Bringin' the hate: Anne Leitess, would-be frame artist.

Bringin’ the hate: Anne Leitess, would-be frame artist.

District Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who led the attempt to frame Walker, was bitter and angry after the jury rejected her office’s entire case, including multiple fallback arguments and lesser-included offenses her underlings dangled before them to bait a conviction on something, anything. But the jury didn’t bite, and Joe Walker is headed home to his family, while Leitess’s client, Harvey, is still dead. You could argue that that’s the best outcome for society — in both cases.

Race was a factor in Harvey and Pidel’s attack on the Walker family (the two Maryland brutes are white, the Jersey cop and his family black) and seems to have been a factor in Leitess’s relentless pursuit of Walker: even after the trial, she condemned him: “I am concerned that Mr. Walker, as a law enforcement officer, is a very aggressive person,” she told the press in an angry interview, nostrils flaring and lips curling in a contemptuous sneer. She further accused him of “aggressive, threatening behavior” and “hiding behind his badge.” Unlike Harvey and Pidel, Leitess didn’t refer to the Walkers as “niggers,” at least, not in front of the cameras.

Note the message on Harvey's t-shirt. Nuff said.

Note the message on Harvey’s t-shirt. Nuff said.

For example, according to testimony as reported in the media, two bellowed statements from Harvey were, “What’s your fucking problem, nigger?” and, “I’ll fucking kill you, nigger!” The jury may have taken Harvey’s expressed intent into account when asked to judge Walker’s defense of self and family.

Leitess has declined to prosecute Pidel. 

 

A police defense nonprofit complained about Leitess’s and her underlings’ misconduct during the case. Of course, complaining is what nonprofits do, especially when they want to raise money. It’s unlikely that there will be any finding that Leitess’s conduct strayed outside the very broad bonds of what is normal prosecutorial discretion. It’s just tough luck for Joe Walker that he was the ham sandwich du jour.  The Capital Gazette:

[National Police Defense Foundation executive director Joseph] Occhipinti said that in order to get an indictment, [Assistant State's Attorney Michael] Dunty misrepresented what happened on the night of the shooting.

A prosecutor held responsible for misrepresentation? Occhipinti can ask, but it ain’t gonna happen.

The Baltimore-Washington media were about as angry as Harvey had been, with TV reporters (such as the one that autoplays after an obnoxious ad for the third-rate insurer Hartford, on the Baltimore Sun site) expressing shock and anger that Walker could “just shoot a guy.”(If it wasn’t for The Hartford, we’d include the video, because the guy’s mystified outrage needs to be heard to be believed).  Of course, TV reporters could scarcely be blamed for being ignorant about the case and about self-defense in general: they’re typical of the low-information news consumers who get their news in predigested, inaccurate chunks from their own stations. And the reporters didn’t use the n-word; you gotta give them that.

A CBS Local story is typical, retelling the story in tones that make Walker look like a guilty man who beat a solid rap:

It was June 8, 2013, when Walker, his wife and kids in their minivan were cut off by a car driven by Anne Arundel County native Joe Harvey and one of his friends. A racial slur-filled road rage episode followed for more than a mile. When it was over, Harvey lay dead on the side of the highway, shot three times.

After getting the date right, that’s pretty much the limit of accuracy in this post. Actually, Harvey flipped out because he thought Walker’s minivan cut him off — testimony in the court case agreed on that. The racial slurs all came from Harvey and Pidel (one of them also seems likely to have thrown a bottle at the van). And Harvey and Pidel attacked the Walkers after Walker stopped. “A road rage episode followed.” Subject, verb, but they don’t teach that in J-School these days.

Walker’s conduct is certainly subject to criticism, if for no other reason than that it put him at the mercy of an Ahab of a prosecutor and a Maryland jury — that’s not a position any rational man would reason himself into. In a road rage case, it’s better to let some guy blow off steam in his car and remove yourself from the scene than it is to confront him. And if you’re legally carrying a gun (with or without a badge), you should feel the weight of that firearm as a pull towards the side of restraint and moderation. Had things gone that way, Joe Walker would not have had the scare of his life and a months-long ordeal in the courts. Of course, improving the gene pool by whacking Harvey would have been left to someone else, but this is the classic case where it does not pay you to be the volunteer.

For the best coverage of the case (if spotty because of the lack of public streaming or transcripts) we recommend, as always in self-defense cases, Andrew Branca of the Law of Self-Defense book and blog. He covered this case at Legal Insurrection, where’s he’s part of a crack legal blog team.

UPDATE

This post has been corrected, to eliminate a bonehead error in the first line that made Walker a “Maryland” cop. He is a Jersey cop who came close to being a Maryland <i>con</I> but is now home with his family. Thanks to Joshua in the comments for the correction! -Eds.

Drunk pulls (toy) gun on police, lives to have legal problems

Daniel E Sears mugshotThere are things everyone ought to know not to do. Like, pull a gun on the cops. Doing that is generally an indicator you’re committing Suicide By Cop, or otherwise are tired of living. No help if it’s a toy gun: by the time the PC Plod figures it out, numerous new orifices in your epidermis will be letting air in, and blood out.

But this guy — the picture looks like a selfie, but it’s actually his mugshot — managed to run into a couple of York, Maine cops who were flying high on the spirit of Christian forbearance.

He, on the other hand, seems to have been flying high on other spirits entirely. Now, a splitting hangover is far from his only problem.

After York police on Saturday asked a Canadian man staying at a local hotel for his identification, he returned with a gun by his side, according to police.

Police didn’t immediately know it was a toy gun, according to Sgt. Steve Spofford.

Daniel E. Sears, 42, 2931 Park Lane SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is charged on a felony count of criminal threatening with a weapon, according to the police report.

Wait, what? Canadian? Aren’t they the ones who shake their head sadly at Yanks With Guns? Well, it takes all kinds to make a country.

The incident happened at the Atlantic House Inn in York Beach around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the report.

Police went to the hotel because some women who were also staying there complained Sears was harassing them, according to police.

“The officers responded to disorderly conduct at the Atlantic House,” Spofford said.

This is one of the first hints that Sears had been hitting the Judgment Juice™. One thing that magical chemical elixir does, when it’s not turning run-of-the-mill Canadians into Mr Hyde, is make that same Mr Hyde cocksure that all the women within his bursting radius love him. Why, he can tell by the way they try to ignore him!

At first Sears appeared cooperative, he said. When the officers asked him for identification, he said he would get it.

“He returned with a gun, held at his side,” Spofford said.

via Intoxicated man with toy gun arrested in York, police say | SeacoastOnline.com.

This is the part where the cops had every right in the world to blast Sears to Kingdom Come, but instead they backed off, de-escalated, called for backup (you know, that one of the Rule for Gunfights that says, “bring friends with guns”?), and then asked him to come out, please, without the gun.

He did, and was taken into custody without further ado. The cops found two kids in the room, apparently Sears’s kids; family members are coming to take charge of them. Sears is in York County Jail for the time being.

We’d offer a thumbs down for Sears’s conduct, but we think he’s probably getting that from enough points of the compass already. We would like to note the professional, responsible (and, it turned out, correct) approach the York PD took to what turned out to be not all that routine a call. Sometimes the hardest correct call is not to shoot.

Maniac with Gun, meet Shrink with Gun

1911_muzzleAn experience every concealed carrier prepares for, but no reasonable carrier wants, came to a Pennsylvania doctor Thursday, when, for reasons that are unclear (except that the guy is a certified nutball), a certified nutball opened fire on his caseworker and the doc.

The doctor pulled out his own firearm, and when the shooting was over, the doc was grazed, but standing; and the nutball was on his way to another wing of the hospital, where his three gunshot wounds (one in the arm but two in the torso) have been treated.

The suspect, Richard Plotts, of Upper Darby, Pa., was reported in critical condition after the shooting at 2:20 p.m. in an office at the Mercy Wellness Center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at an evening news conference.

The unidentified 52-year-old doctor shot Plotts three times and suffered a graze wound when the suspect returned fire, Whelan said at an evening news conference. Two guns were recovered.

Another doctor and caseworker tackled Plotts in a hallway and held him until police arrived.

Whelan said Plotts, who has a history of unspecified psychiatric problems, and his caseworker arrived at the doctor’s third-floor office about 2 p.m., Whalen said. Soon after, another staffer heard a loud argument and opened the door to find the suspect pointing a gun at the doctor. The worker then closed the door and call 911.

via Pa. doctor shoots patient who killed caseworker.

Unfortunately Plotts’s caseworker, a 53-year-old woman who has not been identified, was killed by Plotts’s shots. According to another story, Plotts was known to be combative.

The doctor who saved his life, and who knows how many others (possibly even nutball Plotts’s, because these nutballs’ shooting sprees usually culminate in self-destruction) may have lost his job in the process.

Hospital spokeswoman Bernice Ho described Plotts as a “victim” in a prepared statement, and condemned the doctor for violating Mercy Health Systems’ corporate weapons policy, which is to die in place in the 20 minutes it takes for a 911 call to turn into a cop on the scene.

Not everyone was as quick as Ho to blast the doctor. (Well, Potts was apparently all for blasting him, in his own way). District attorney Jack Whelan said the doctor, “from all accounts, would have acted in self-defense… his life was in jeopardy.” Police Chief Donald Molineaux was even more explicit in his praise for the defensive doctor:

I believe the doctor saved lives. Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could’ve went out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition.

Even after receiving life-threatening wounds, Plotts still tried to flee, but another doctor and caseworker tackled and disarmed him. They were also praised by the authorities.

It is as simple as this: will you take responsibility for your safety, or will you trust to luck or chance that no Richard Plotts will insert himself into your life? If the doctor had taken the advice of Michael Bloomberg or Shannon Watts he would be dead. Hell, even Bloomberg and Watts don’t take their own advice — they’re wealthy enough yto have paid bodyguards.

This is what Accountability looks like

What would you do if you were police chief, and video surfaced of your officers… doing this?

In most places, the answer comes down to “obfuscate and run out the clock.” It even shows in what people call this: defense lawyers and, God help us, “community activists,” call it “police brutality.” Even the most censorious and judgmental cops call it “excessive force,” recognizing that in police work, especially with intoxicated, noncompliant suspects, sometimes force is necessary, but a good man keeps a lid on it. These guys recognized no lid.

So, you’re the Chief, what do you do? Remember, too, you have to lead this department and every officer will want to know whether your actions show intolerance of bad behavior, or just a white shirt who doesn’t have any of his blue shirt’s backs. What do you do?

Here’s what Lee Bitomski, the Chief (he was #2 at time of the incident, but the then-Chief retired before it came to light) in the small, decidedly blue-collar beach town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, did, according to Seacoast Online:

The town fired two of its police officers and reprimanded two others Wednesday for their involvement in or failure to report an alleged police brutality incident that occurred inside the station.

Police Chief Lee Bitomske has previously described the assault of then-19-year-old Michael Bergeron Jr. as a “dark cloud” that was hanging over the department since station surveillance video of the incident went viral in January..

He and other officials said Wednesday, though, that the termination of officers Mark Richardson and Adam Laurent, the two-day suspension of Officer Keith Dietenhofer and the demotion of Lt. John Wasson, the three officers’ supervisor, may have “lifted” that cloud.

via Seabrook fires two police officers accused of brutality | SeacoastOnline.com.

The two guys who were fired are Richardson, the big gorilla who slams the stoned kid’s face into the wall, and Laurent, the guy who pepper-sprays him after his second bounce off the wall and down. Dietenhofer and Wasson were complicit more in the non-reporting and cover-up of the incident, and Wasson, who before the incident was exposed was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant wasn’t just “demoted,” he rocketed all the way back down to Patrolman for his failure of ethical leadership in this case.

Dietenhofer was not fired, because his report was more a lie of omission than commission, but the report was critical enough of his integrity that he will have considerable difficulty testifying in cases contested by capable criminal defense attorneys.

Laurent’s stated reason for spraying Bergeron was interesting: he had observed that a person can’t spit after being sprayed, and Bergeron had been trying to spit on the cops. He didn’t do that any more after he got a face full of wall followed by pepper spray. But other facets of Laurent’s report and testimony are contradicted by the video, calling his credibility into question.

Richardson also faces criminal charges for assault while a police officer, which is a specific crime in New Hampshire. (Everybody holds cops to a higher standard, but the Granite State writes it into the law books).

Is that a perfect outcome? We don’t know. We have read the independent report (a very good technique for a small PD that’s too little and too tight to do its own internal investigation, by the way) and we’ll let you read it yourself and draw your own conclusions. The report does make it clear that Bergeron (the kid who dents the concrete-block wall with his face) was a problem suspect, alternatively cooperative and belligerent, but it also makes it clear that the officers were wrong, did wrong, and knew they did wrong. Here it is:

Seabrook-Police-Department-Internal-Review-Report-July-2014.pdf

So is the outcome (one charge, two firings, one big demotion, one small suspension) perfect? Probably not. But we do think it’s about as good as you can expect from a government agency. Compare, for example:

  • Who’s been demoted and fired in the VA’s policies that scammed the taxpayers out of millions in undeserved bonuses, and led to the deaths of scores if not hundreds of deaths? Nobody and no one.
  • Who’s been fired in the ATF’s gunwalking operations, still not fully exposed, which provided thousands of powerful weapons to ATF pals in Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, guns that have gone on to be used in the murders of at least two US Federal Agents and literally hundreds of Mexicans? Nobody and no one.
  • And who’s been fired in the egregious case where an untrained cop on an untrained SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade in a 19-month-old baby’s crib? Nobody. No one. (Aside: in that case, the baby’s come home, having relearned to walk after suffering from burns, a coma, and possibly some degree of permanent brain damage — something you’ll only learn in the English press as our guys are too busy pitching in on Hillary!’s book tour).

The key failure, and the key problem, of representative government and particularly of law enforcement in the 21st Century is Accountability. 

Bergeron, the suspect, asked to play this video at his trial. The judge said no, so after the trial was over he put it on YouTube, where it went viral — and ultimately unleashed this investigation, and these consequences. Truth wants a way out. And everybody knew the truth of it.

Officer Dietenhofer said as he recalled his thoughts about the incident that he was concerned
about Bergeron after he was sprayed with OC, also thinking “oh, shit, that must have hurt”
referring to the slam against the wall.

 

A wall, by the way, has a lot of utility as a weapon. You just have to use it when your use of force is justified. Officer Richardson, the 6’6″ 270-lb cop who applied the wall to the face of the 6’2″ 145-pound Bergeron, gets to make that argument to a jury of his peers soon. We would not exchange places with him.

We recognize it’s hard to make hairsplitting decisions about use of force when some mouthy kid is trying to spit on you, and full of beer (or drug) muscles and the associated belligerence. But that’s just when you have to do it. It’s not fair at all, but there it is.

Now, you might wonder what happened to Michael Bergeron, the belligerent teenage suspect who got his belligerence knocked out of him that night in 2009, and went on to post the video that started a couple of misfit cops on their way to a more suitable career. We wish we could report he went to MIT and is a research chemist, but you probably know that’s not coming — any research chemistry he ever did was of the recreational pharmaceutical variety.

Presently, he’s doing 3 1/2 to 7 in state prison for burglary. One supposes you could argue that the cops beat him into criminality, but what are the odds? More likely, he’s living proof that sometimes a second chance is wasted on a guy.

UPDATE

This post has been updated from its original posting. We replaced the image-based .pdf of the Seabrook report with an OCR’d version that allows you to select and copy text. We haven’t checked the OCR, but it’s usually pretty good with the program we use. -Eds.

Update II — we added some links to Bergeron’s unrelated criminal cases. He appears to be a career burglar (or maybe more comprehensively, a career druggie who supports his habit with burglary).

Quick, Where’s this Combat Operation?

Now taking place somewhere in the world: a couple squads of infantry in ninja suits, an armored truck with a gun turret.

where_is_this_combat_operation

But where?

Where is this Combat Operation?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Answer after the jump.

Continue reading

It’s time to show Jerry Miculek being cool

Now, our usual reaction to Hollywood dual-wielding gunplay is the same kind of sneering that Simon Pegg’s character gets to early in Hot Fuzz, when he’s still a responsible police officer who takes firearms seriously, not influenced by Hollywood tropes, unlike the character asking him.

But if you’re Jerry Miculek, you can pull it off. And actually hit stuff:

Frankly, we wish we shot like this guy back when we shot as much as this guy.  (Of course, we had never heard of Jerry then, and just wished we could shoot like Paul Poole. Whose reaction was: “Bwah-haw-HAW! Boy, you ain’t gonna ever shoot like me. Instead, we gonna make you a 79 gunner — you need an AREA FIRE WEAPON! Bwah-haw-HAW!” RIP, Paul; YSMFDYND, ‘cept you did).

Anyway, can you do what Jerry does here? Don’t think we can. Pretty sure we’re not gonna try.

True, he didn’t do it “whilst leaping through the air,” as Nick Frost’s character asked Pegg, but we’d hate to call Jerry on that, ’cause he might pull it off, too.

Best supporting role: the SIG arm brace (or equivalent), which turns any AR pistol into an effective cousin of the innovative but commercially unsuccessful Gwinn/Bushmaster Arm Pistol.

Rimfire Challenge Ammo Guaranteed by ATK

ATK, a major defense and ammunition firm, likes to support the NSSF and the shooting sports. When they heard that the ongoing tightness of rimfire ammo supply was threatening Rimfire Challenge matches, they acted in the way you might expect, knowing the above, and that they’re the largest rimfire ammo manufacturer, under their CCI brand:

Adding to its Platinum-level support for the NSSF Rimfire Challenge program, ATK Sporting also will participate in the Rimfire Challenge Ammo Roundup, which will help ensure the program’s target shooters have a reliable source of ammunition.

The Rimfire Challenge Ammo Roundup will serve as a fulfillment center for match directors to purchase ammunition for events.

The company will provide 600,000 rounds of CCI rimfire ammunition to the Ammo Roundup program.

“Action rimfire sports like the NSSF Rimfire Challenge are paving the way for a whole new generation of shooters,” said Ryan Bronson, Senior Manager of Conservation and Public Policy at ATK Sporting Group. “We are happy to provide CCI ammunition to help support a program that is promoting exciting and safe trigger time for both the new shooters and folks that have been shooting for years.”

The Rimfire Challenge was the Ruger Rimfire Challenge until Ruger bowed out, claiming it had gotten to big to handle, and risking the future of the matches — sponsorless, they couldn’t survive. NSSF stepped in and the Challenge continued seamlessly.

The Rimfire Challenge combines .22 rifles and pistols, new shooters, and steel-plate targets to make appealing and fun matches. Here’s an FAQ in .pdf form. Here’s a schematic of a typical stage:

rimfire_challenge_stage_-_sample

The shooter and’s with a firearm loaded, aimed at the start steak. On audible signal here she begins to engage the plates, usually in any order, except for the stoplight. The stop plate is engaged last. (If you shoot it first, “stage over” and you’re going to do lousy on points). The scoring is based on the time to hit all the targets plus any penalties (penalties are assessed for each miss, encouraging accuracy).

The stages are relatively easy and that, and the audible clang of slug on steel, makes them rewarding for a new shooter. It would have been a shame if they ran out of ammo. Well done, ATK!

Cop Murdered: Family, Press Blame the Dead Cop

Murder victim Perry Renn

Murder victim Perry Renn. This is the guy the perp’s family and WISH-TV blame for his ambush murder.

One thing that’s extremely rare these days, or any other, is criminals engaging police with rifles, especially so-called “assault rifles.” But it does happen. In this case, a career criminal, Major Davis Jr.,  ambushed an Indianapolis police officer with a civilian AK, which was legally purchased by his mother, who lacks the rap sheet that’s the pride of all the men in the family.

It’s not clear whether he was laying for this particular PO, or just any cop in general. He blamed the police for the death of his career criminal father, and the officer he murdered was one of the arresting officers in the incident that ended in his father’s death. Renn, a career cop with a good reputation, and other police officers were responding to a shots fired call.

Most people have no idea what the criminal class is actually like. Fortunately. Here is a glimpse of it; it is one of the more than half of Indianapolis murders this year that a ten-year sentence for murderer’s previous felony would have prevented (or at least, delayed).

Officer Perry Renn, a 22-year veteran who served on IMPD’s North District, died after a shootout with Davis Saturday night.

Probable cause documents show Officer Nicholas Gallico was on patrol in the area of 34th and Forest Manor Avenue around 9:30 p.m. Saturday when a civilian who was riding along in his patrol car noticed Davis appeared to be flagging the officer down. Gallico got out of his car and saw Davis walking toward him, with his hands behind his back. After ordering Davis to show his hands, he replied “no,” and began walking backwards. Two women were at the scene with Davis, one appeared to try to get him to back up, the other told the officer everything was okay.

Renn, 52, arrived at the scene a short time later, on the opposite side of Davis from Gallico on an alley. Gallico said he heard Renn say something to Davis after the suspect raised an AK-47 rifle in Renn’s direction, but could not make out what was said. Gallico told investigators he was sure Davis fired first and that Renn returned fire immediately.

via Murder charge filed against suspect in Ofc. Renn’s shooting deat – 13 WTHR Indianapolis.

That story says that the murderer flagged another cop car down, but the Metro Police statement said they were responding to a shots fired call. As is usual soon after an incident, it will take a while to sort out who said what, and some of the testimony will conflict because (1) human memory is imperfect and (2) a lot of the witnesses appear to be members of the Davis crime family, which guarantees bogus testimony.

It’s very rare for a cop to actually be outgunned, but this was one of those cases. Poor Renn was in a rifle fight, armed only with a pistol. Despite that, he put Davis down, dead; unfortunately, paramedics resuscitated Davis. They worked just as hard on Renn (if not harder), but one of the AK rounds had sliced through Renn’s vest and then through his heart. There was no saving the valiant cop.

major_davis_jr

Murderer Major Davis Jr., a career criminal (this is a mugshot from a previous felony). This is the guy we blame. 

Major Davis Jr. is a career criminal, mostly as a drug dealer, although he’s also been busted with weapons before. Davis Jr. was dealing crack from his car before he even had a driver’s license, and he never in his young life (he’s 25) has gone more than a couple years without a felony. Drugs and crime are the family business; while Jr. only has a couple pages of arrests, his father Major Davis Sr. was lugged 12 times before finally getting vapor lock on his lucky 13th. (Or maybe it was, Indianapolis’s lucky day).

Naturally, Davis’s family were quick to condemn the police for shooting their little bundle of joy (and death), and a local TV reporter, Jessica Smith of WISH-TV, was quick to give them a platform. A Davis relative complained that Davis is “scarred for life.”

“Major is not a bad person, in spite of what happened,” she said, a few bullet holes in a room-temperature cop notwithstanding. “Things happen,” she said, as if the murder of Perry Renn was just some inexplicable burden laid upon the Renn family by cruel and distant pagan gods, or the arbitrary finger of fate.

But things like ambushed cops don’t just happen. People make them happen. Specifically, criminals make them happen. What sort of definition can one possibly have of “a bad person” that cannot be stretched to accommodate Major Davis Jr.?

The one-sided WISH-TV report drew such a barrage of negative comments that News Director Steve Bray prepended a long, self-serving editorial note to the piece, defending the station’s complete impartiality between cops and cop killers, and defending Smith:

We wanted to give insight into the mind of the people/family who were involved so there was some context and exposure for you into this world….. It was difficult for many of us to watch and understand mostly for the reporter who did the story. Her father is a veteran of IMPD.

But that professed above-it-all impartiality manifested itself in sentences like this, which is Smith talking, not some skell from the Davis crime family:

Now, the Davis family is worried about their son’s reputation and again, questioning police tactics.

What reputation? Reputation, my eye. The kid was and is a complete waste of protoplasm. That’s his reputation. That’s the whole freaking family’s reputation.

Smith gets another, “And again, questioning police tactics,” in after that. Her father was a cop on this force? Maybe she has some daddy issues.

Hey, we’re not condemning reporters. Just questioning news tactics.

 

Editor’s Note: We usually try to start with a weapons technical post before going off on a rant like this. But our tech post today is hanging fire a bit. That’s troublesome, because it’s nuclear (just a little one though). We’re going to give it a few kicks and see if we can get it loose this afternoon, OK? – Ed.

Three Reasons Not to Use the Blackhawk Serpa Holster

100 of these wound up in a landfill. Not doing that risked a lot more of the taxpayers' money.

100 of these wound up in a landfill. Not doing that risked a lot more of the taxpayers’ money.

It is our considered opinion that you should not use this product. Last SF company before retirement bought 90 or 100 of them circa 2003 (an SF company has 84 officers & men if at full strength, plus operational floats) and we discovered the same thing everybody else has: the Serpa has three serious safety-of-use problems, either of which alone would be enough to recommend retiring and destroying the holster and using anything else. Even Mexican carry.

We understand why the Serpa holster was designed. Pistol retention is a serious problem for anyone that tangles hand to hand with hostile persons. The police are more likely than armed forces to throw down mano a mano, but any soldier or Marine in ground combat can wind up in that place, the good old unsought fist fight or grapple-for-the-gun game. Many police forces, and some military units, specify a retention holster for just that reason. But there are a number of ways to design a retention holster. There are three reasons that the Serpa is the wrong way:

Safety of Use Issue #3: Stuck Pistol Syndrome

The Serpa does provide positive retention — sometimes too positive, especially if grit, sand, gravel or mung in general gets into it. If it gets into the retention release mechanism, Jesus Christ Himself isn’t getting that thing open. That’s rather a problem, because if you’re like us, you don’t generally go to unholster a gun until the situation has already gone uncomfortably nonlinear. The only thing worse than pulling your gun too soon is pulling it too late. The only thing worse than pulling it too late is attempting to pull it, and then failing to pull it at all, after signalling that you were going to. This problem by itself should be enough to disqualify this holster family.

Safety of Use Issue #2: It’s Slow

No matter how much you drill, the trigger-finger release is going to be slower than some of your other options. Worse, it’s going to be less consistent, because from time to time you may address the holstered firearm a little differently, and it doesn’t take much change in alignment to miss the flipping catch. If you miss the catch, you have to grope around, all while the clock is ticking. There are holsters that don’t make you do all this, so this problem by itself, also, should also suffice to disqualify this holster family.

Safety of Use Issue #1: Increased ND Risk

This is the biggest Serpa problem that people talk about. By using your trigger finger to disconnect the gun, and then having that finger fall on your trigger you great we increase the odds you’ll touch off a round with the pistol aligned somewhere other than at the proper target.

This video (NSFW but understandable language) shows an experienced shooter having a very typical Serpa ND. In the slo-mo at about 0:57-59 you can see exactly how it happened.

In this case, there was a combination of negative transfer of training from the more conventional 5.11 holster that this shooter used with another pistol, and the Serpa putting his index finger too close to the projectile initiator, too early in the draw sequence. Tex says he doesn’t blame the holster, he blames himself; fair enough, you can’t have an ND without human input. But his tools made the ND easier, instead of raising obstacles to an ND.

As we’ve said, every one of these issues is serious enough to warrant discarding the Serpa holster (and any holster that works like it, with an index-finger release paddle). But the increased ND risk with the Serpa is, in our opinion, the most consequential of these issues and the one that, even if you dismiss the other two, needs to sink in before you have a mishap like Tex’s.

We’re not sure even he knows how lucky he is. Mere inches from the channel that .45 slug dug in his thigh is one of the superhighways of the circulatory system, the femoral artery. A bullet in that artery would have led to his incapacitation in minutes, and ultimately, death, unless the right first aid was available extremely rapidly. He seemed to us to be alone on the range. How often have you shot, alone? It’s a calculated risk.

Doing it with a Serpa makes the calculation all wrong.

It’s not just us

We aren’t the only ones who just say no to Serpa. For example, Paul Howe wrote in 2005:

Another problem … a recent student …. exerted excessive pressure from his trigger finger to the unlock button and when drawing the weapon, drug the finger along the holster and into the trigger guard, discharging the airsoft weapon prematurely into his leg during his draw sequence.

Trigger fingers are just that, for the trigger. I think it should remain straight and have one function, to index the trigger.

Larry Vickers says:

I have banned for almost two years now Serpa style (trigger finger paddle release) holsters from my classes – several other instructors and training facilities have done the same. …. I understand many shooters use Serpa holsters on a regular basis with no issues whatsoever. However an open enrollment class environment has its own set of challenges … and a trigger finger paddle release holster is asking for trouble.

Todd Green in 2011:

At this point, pistol-training.com is going to follow the lead of other instructors such as Larry Vickers and ban the SERPA (and the various cheap knockoffs on the market) from classes beginning in 2012. I have been suggesting to students that they bring something else to classes up until now and will continue that for anyone who is already registered for a class in 2011.

And earlier that year, in reference to the Tex Grebner accident video posted above:

[T]he SERPA retention mechanism certainly lends itself to such accidents more than most other holsters. Instead of keeping your trigger finger well clear of the gun during the initial part of the drawstroke, the SERPA and its clones require you to press your trigger finger toward the trigger as you draw.

A lot more instructors say about the same thing. Travis Haley, Chris Costa, and a lot of guys you never heard of but that have seen these things cause one problem after another even on what should be a routine flat range. Rational Gun has a list of some of them, but Google will find you even more. (For example, RG has a link about the FLETC ban, but we don’t believe he mentioned the IDPA ban on the Serpa).

Yet this thing is still on the market, and people (and worse, agencies) are still buying them. Don’t Be That Guy™.

Does a Bear Get Shot in the Woods? Not always.

This picture's from Colorado, not NH, but it's a rare pic of a mother and her cub pilfering a chicken. Story here.

This picture’s from Colorado, not NH, but it’s a rare pic of a black bear sow and her cub flagrante delicto pilfering a chicken. Story here. They yelled at ‘em; up here, we blow ‘em away.

New Hampshire is seeing a surge in agricultural and residential bear shootings, and the spread of hobby  chicken farming and the backyard coops that have grown popular in recent years are being fingered by wildlife biologists. It isn’t the scent of the chickens that draw the bruins, but the scent of the feed; for some reason that’s irresistible to the bears.

Of course, once they’ve eaten the feed, they turn to the birds. If the farmer hasn’t shot them — and shootings this year are up 25% already over historical annual numbers, with months of bear activity left to run. We could actually see a doubling of bear shootings.

Fish and Game bear biologist Andrew Timmins said that in June alone, homeowners shot and killed at least 12 bears, usually the state’s annual average total.

“We’re easily at 15 now, and we still have two more full months of what we consider bear conflict season,” Timmins told the Concord Monitor.

About 75 percent of the bears shot and killed so far this year were getting into coops when they were shot by the owners.

The number of complaints about bear-chicken conflicts has dramatically increased over the last decade, from a low of 12 in 2001 to a high of 127 in 2012.

“It’s pretty eye-opening,” Timmins said. “These are the ones we have documented — not everybody calls.”

via New Hampshire sees high number of bear shootings | SeacoastOnline.com.

No one (PETA nut jobs excluded, we suppose) questions the propriety of the farmers defending their stock. For one thing, if you let Bruin go after making a meal of your birds, he’ll be back to see if you’ve restocked.

We’re wondering if it was a bear that got Khalid bin Mahfouz the cat last year. He was a trusting soul, which was why we didn’t let him out much. We initially blamed fishers as we have a robust population of those, too, but the wildlife biologists assured us that fishers don’t normally predate cats, preferring rodents. There are bear (and other large mammals, especially whitetail deer) around even here on the seacoast, but they are shy and timid, and their preferred strategy vis-a-vis homo sapiens is to bug out before the human can see them.

The bears in New Hampshire are common black bears. They are not endangered (indeed, they may be at record population levels) and they are not aggressive towards humans. In addition to the farmers’ shootings of invasive bears, there is a bear hunting season here and in the neighboring states of Vermont and Maine. In NH, at least, you may hunt with dogs or bait the bears. (Fun fact about government statistics: that same page lists the 2013 bear harvest as 569 and 570. Did somebody bag Schrödinger’s bear?)

Maybe that’s why so many otherwise rational folks in the Granite State are putting chicken coops in their back yards?