Bob Owens

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

NYPD guns down ANOTHER innocent. Time to rearm them with tasers yet?

Written By: Bob - Sep• 07•12

Store worker Reynaldo Cuevas is the latest shooting victim of the poorly-trained NYPD.

For as long as I can remember, the four rules of gun safety have been a constant hammered into the head of anyone picking up a firearm for any reason.

  1. Always treat firearms as if they are loaded.
  2. Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your gun is on target.
  4. Be sure of your target and of what is beyond it.

There are countless slight variations to the wording of rules, but the sentiment is constant… and something that apparently isn’t covered at all by the New York Police Department, which has managed to gun down another innocent bystander, this time killing him:

An innocent worker was shot and killed by a cop responding to an armed robbery at a Bronx bodega, witnesses and sources said.

“The store was being robbed and police responded and shot a worker by mistake,” a law enforcement source told The Post.

Reynaldo Cuevas, 20, was inside the Aneurys Deli Grocery store on Franklin Avenue when three men entered the store around 2 a.m., law enforcement sources said.

Jose Garcia, 27, the victim’s cousin, said he watched the terrifying scene unfold while standing across the street.

Garcia said that his friend went into the bodega where he noticed that the worker behind the safety glass was not the normal employee, Garcia said. The customer saw the store’s manager being held at gunpoint on the floor by a second man and ran across the street and called 911, witnesses said.

Cuevas and the manager — along with one perp — came out of the bodega soon after cops arrived, sources said.

Cuevas ran out of the store and stumbled, bumping into a cop, law enforcement sources said. The cop had his gun out and shot Cuevas, killing him, sources said.

If the account is accurate, there could be mitigating factors excusing the officer who fired. He could have mistaken Cuevas as one of the suspects, and thought that he was under attack from the suspect.This would excuse an intentional homicide.

It could have been a situation where the clenching of his fist after the impact caused the gun to “go off.” This would excuse an accidental homicide, though with the notoriously heavy “New York trigger” required on NYPD service guns, this seems somewhat less likely.

What is certain is that New York is one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. It is also a fact that NYPD officers—despite the desperate hopes of the media and the ass-covering spin of politicians—are only minimally trained to the most basic of standards, with little required range time, realistic scenario training, or high qualification standards.

Most NYPD officers are not taught to deal with the stress of a lethal force encounter, only paper-punching stationary targets on a fixed range. They are unaware of the dynamics of the sympathetic nervous system upon the body and how that will affect their mental perceptions and physical reaction.

In short, they have no business being armed with the firearms that they are inadequately trained to use.

Reynaldo Cuevas is just the latest victim of inadequate NYPD firearms training requirements.

I infuriated a lot of people  in law enforcement late last month when the NYPD shot nine innocent bystanders during a single incident. I suggested that in a city as densely populated as New York, with police shooting standards being so low, that it would make a lot more sense to either issue tasers as an alternative less-lethal weapons system, or arm police patrol units entirely with tasers, issuing firearms only to more highly trained officers.

This is far from being a controversial position internationally, where the police patrol officers of major metropolitan cities are issued compliance-focused weapons (batons, tasers, etc), with only supervisors or more highly trained specialized units carrying firearms.

I am hardly suggesting this as a one-size-fits-all solutions for police forces in general in the United States, including other large U.S. cities. I am suggesting this for the NYPD only, which faces unique constraints regarding population density and feasibly training 35,000 officers to the level of firearms training that they would need to function in such an environment.

New York Mayor Bloomberg has made his disdain for firearms abundantly clear. Let him put his rhetoric into action by disarming the largest armed threat to citizens in his city.

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  1. Jake says:

    After looking at the video, I can’t fault either the officer or his training. The final camera angle (starting at about 0:55) shows it best. He’s splitting his attention between the door that he’s standing next to and something down the street (another exit from the store?), and is caught completely by surprise by the first victim running out of the door and almost directly at him. He appears to almost shoot the first guy, but restrains himself. He was still covering him, and it looks like he may have been reaching for his cuffs to restrain him, when the second guy runs into him.

    From the time the first robbery victim runs out to the time the second one runs into the cop is less than 2 seconds. I doubt the cop had enough time to transition from “I’m under attack” to “no-shoot” to “finger off trigger”, and I suspect he hadn’t even solidified his identification of the first person as a victim rather than a suspect, before he was hit. At that point it was either his monkey-grip reflex or the way he was hit that caused him to pull the trigger.

    It’s also possible that being physically struck while covering a possible armed robbery suspect prompted a conscious decision to shoot someone he thought was attacking him.

    Given their history, I hate to give NYPD any slack, but I can’t fault the officer or his training for this one, and the fact that he didn’t shoot the first victim actually speaks well of his restraint and his training. I think it was just a horrific confluence of events that could only have been avoided by the officer not getting involved – but getting involved in things like armed robbery is his job.

  2. Paul says:

    Sounds like the poor guy was ‘running while black’ and the cop shot him thinking any black guy coming out of the store was a bad guy.

    He COULD, not seeing a gun, go H2H but instead opened fire but instead when bumped presumed it was an attacker. Sad day for that citizen, right?

  3. Cormac says:

    Being armed, and having already cleared leather (or whatever the holster is made from), going H2H would be a monumentally stupid idea!!
    Any idiot can get lucky in a fight…a cop who gets disarmed by a suspect or assailant tends to have a pretty bad day. (90% fatality, or something?)