Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

NY Times confirms my math: most of those shot at Empire State felled by NYPD bullets

Written By: Bob - Aug• 25•12

I crunched the numbers yesterday, and came to the conclusion that most of the people injured during a shooting near the Empire State Building in New York City were felled by police bullets:

From piecing together the various media accounts, we know that Johnson was most likely armed with a M1911 .45 ACP pistol, which has a 7 or 8 round magazine. He shot his victim 2-3 times, leaving 5-6 bullets. At least one was found in the magazine, and we have to assume one in the chamber as well.

That means he fired 3-4 bullets, tops, at police.

There were at least three hits on Johnson confirmed by a witness, which suggests the majority of the wounded were hit by the 11-12 additional rounds let loose by the NYPD that missed Johnson.

The New York Times came to the same conclusion—I’m not going to assert they tried to rip off my article, because the Times has too much integrity for that—suggesting that all nine bystanders shot were hit with NYPD bullets:

As the two officers confronted a gunman in front of the Empire State Building on a busy Friday morning, they had to make a snap decision: Do they open fire in the middle of Midtown?

From a distance of less than 10 feet, the officers, Craig Matthews and Robert Sinishtaj, answered in unison; one shot nine times and the other seven.

Investigators believe at least 7 of those 16 bullets struck the gunman, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. But the officers also struck some, if not all, of the nine bystanders who were wounded.

If the Times is correct and the officers were less than ten feet from Johnson when they opened fire, they could have closed the distance in less than a second or dropped him using tasers. As the incident occurred on a crowded Midtown street at rush hour, you could make a compelling argument that a non-lethal response at this distance in this dense of a civilian environment was the only right response. It is only through the grace of God that the NYPD didn’t kill more people during the shootout than the assassin.

Nanny New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg loves to claim that only police officers are well-trained enough to use firearms. Nine innocent people were injured because a pair of NYPD officers couldn’t take down a man ten feet away without firing more than a dozen shots. I’ve never heard of concealed carry permit holders shooting multiple innocent bystanders… have you?

Perhaps the NYPD shouldn’t be armed with lethal weapons, at least until they’re as well trained as concealed carry permit holders.

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16 Comments

  1. kwalsh says:

    NYPD patrol officers are not equipped with Tasers, only supervisors and Emergency Service Unit officers, so the Taser was not an option in this situation. Don’t let your antipathy towards Bloomberg spill over to the cops in this shooting; the fact that they they work for him doesn’t mean they endorse his policies.

    • Bob says:

      Beat cops aren’t issued tasers by the NYPD? That’s stunning, if true. Every small time cop I know has both the Taser X26 (the one that shoots prongs attached to wires) and a sidearm. With the millions poured into the NYPD’s armory, I’m stunned if the lack such a basic piece of equipment.

      • kwalsh says:

        It’s true. Not only are Tasers in limited supply, their use is restricted as follows (from the NYPD Patrol Guide):

        Patrol supervisors or uniformed members of the service assigned to Emergency Service
        Unit may utilize a taser electronic stun device or stun device to assist in restraining emotionally disturbed persons if necessary. The taser/stun device may be used:
        a. To restrain an EDP who is evincing behavior that might result in physical injury
        to himself or others, OR
        b. To restrain person(s) who, through the use of drugs, alcohol or other mindaltering
        substances, are evincing behavior that might result in physical injury to
        himself or others.
        Emergency Service Unit personnel will obtain the permission of the Emergency Service
        Unit supervisor prior to utilizing a taser/stun device, except in emergencies.

  2. mytralmann says:

    Apparently there is video of this. Maybe you should hold your fire and second guessing till you see it. The NYT has no integrity, or maybe you know this and were just joking. They do not want Kelly to run for Mayor so will do anything to trash him. I do not like Bloomberg, but he said at his presser he didn’t even know if the killer had even fired his gun( which it seems he certainly did). As for all the rounds fired, the right thing for the cops, once the shooter drew his weapon, was to avoid getting shot themselves. Under stress it is pretty easy to empty a magazine. as you must know. Firing at someone who is at close range pointing a M1911 at you is not like shooting at a harmless metal plate. Instead there is a natural tendency to void the threat completely and permanently. This guy wanted to die this way and didn’t care who he took with him. and he got what he wanted.

  3. rumcrook says:

    Drawing a taser on a man with a firearm….. Something similar was forced on Brian terry?

    • SDN says:

      Huge difference between mandating that in the middle of the AZ desert and in a crowded NYC street, unless you’re drunk and dishonest (the nom de net fits).

      BTW, one of the guys who tackled Jared Loughner had a gun, but because he wasn’t an NYC cop (or a rumcrook) realized that blazing away in a crowd wasn’t recommended.

  4. rumcrook says:

    As for the colateral damage on the citizenry, most people in the know, are aware that cops are generally embarrassingly bad shots and are not nessasarily gun enthusiasts who practice more than demanded to pass muster.

  5. Joel C says:

    No matter what case you or anyone else might make, I’d be loathe to draw a less-lethal device like a taser against a gun unless it was the only thing I had. (No, even then I’d be unhappy about it.)

    I think this is a marksmanship problem rather than a roe error.

    • Tom J says:

      I agree. Pulling their sidearms and dropping the guy is a perfectly reasonable response from the two officers.

      My problem is that they did it so poorly. A collective 7 for 16 from 10 feet away — were their eyes even open?

      • Sean says:

        one of the things I heard was the officers duty guns had their triggers modified for a 12lb pull. Add that, rapid repeated pulls on the trigger and as I stated before…not NEARLY enough range time and practice..*shrug* and you get yesterday.

      • SDN says:

        Apparently it’s NYPD policy to have guns with at least an 8lb trigger pull, because without it, cops were having negligent discharges drawing and holstering their weapons with their finger on the trigger.

  6. mytralmann says:

    there is video of this shootout on the NYpost website now.

  7. david7134 says:

    I watched the video. It is apparent that the cops are out of control. This is fairly typical, in my experience. Cops should not have access to significant fire power and their use of hand guns should be limited.

  8. Indigo Red says:

    The bad guy killed his target with one shot to the head and then fired into the victim’s torso 1-3 times. Once confronted by NYPD, the suspect never fired at the cops.

    Cops should be required more range time and higher scores. Killer Johnson has been described as “a quiet animal lover.” This seems to be common among killers, so perhaps those persons should be surveilled 24/7.

  9. Indigo Red says:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/joeflood/why-police-shot-civilians-at-the-empire-state-buil-7700

    “No matter how realistic their training is, it can never prepare an officer for a shooting,” says Dr. David Klinger, a former Los Angeles police officer and current criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who has interviewed hundreds of police officers involved in shootings. According to Klinger, the most effective training technique is what’s known as “force on force” training, where officers are put into active shooter scenarios and use modified paint balls (“Simunition”) in their service weapons. Force on force training is a component of both the NYPD’s recruit training, and re-training for active duty officers (all NYPD officers must go through firearms re-qualification twice a year). But it’s essentially impossible for a police force of 35,000 officers facing constant budget crunches to completely train all of its members for every situation.

    This is just my opinion, but I don’t think training with a weapon that is not the daily service weapon is not the most efficient training method. Everyone should train with their own weapon. A paintball toy may simulate an active shooter situation, but not the firing characteristics of a real gun.

    There’s a difference in police staffing from East Coast to West Coast. The East uses police officers for nearly all positions on the force from paperwork to patrol. West police organizations use civilians for non-enforcement positions to maximize patrol presence. The West police forces require fewer personnel to be weapons qualified than the East saving a great deal of money and gaining more expert weapons handling.

    • Orion says:

      They may save money in comparison, but they surely aren’t more accurate.

      Look at TPD/SWAT (Tucson) for example…

      Orion