Written by: Greg Ellifritz
A reader of this site recently sent me the link to a video and the following question:
“I am most interested by the bystander that gets shot down at 1:22. Is there anything he could have done differently? Maybe running while keeping the telephone pole between him and the shooter might have helped, but most people including myself would not have thought of this. He was so close, would tackling the shooter have made more sense?”
The video is embedded below. It contains surveillance video from two angles. I think the second angle is better. Footage from that camera starts around the :50 mark. Check it out.
What would you have done here if you were the man walking across the street?
This is a bad spot to be in. I don’t know if running any other direction or using the phone pole for some kind of cover would have helped. What most people don’t realize is that the targets of this attack will likely be shooting back fairly quickly (as they did). Running towards them might actually put you in worse danger.
There is no cover or concealment readily available nearby. I don’t think he could have done much of anything better except to have run faster. I don’t know if the man has any type of physical limitation, but if he doesn’t, that escape could have been a lot more urgent. Sprinting is an important thing to throw into your workout schedule. A slow jog doesn’t get you out of harm’s way quickly enough!
The only other thing the bystander could have done differently is to pick up the attack sooner. There were two very noticeable pre-assault indicators on the part of the shooter before the gun came out. Did you catch them?
Watch again starting around the :25 mark. Now do you see?
The “look around” is a huge indicator. Prior to initiating an attack, a predator is likely to look around for witnesses, cops, and escape routes. I’ve seen this happen myself many times.
The second indicator is what my friend Craig Douglas calls a “grooming cue”. Touching the face, neck, or head is a body action that shows nervousness or deception. Watch as the shooter touches the side of his face. That’s a grooming cue and it’s a sign that the attack is very close to happening.
If our wounded bystander would have picked up those cues, he would have bought himself a few extra seconds. I don’t know if it matters much, but I’ll take any advantage I can get.
As to attacking the shooter physically or shooting him, I don’t think either would be a good option. Your tackle attempt from outside of arms’ length distance is very likely to get you shot. And we probably aren’t legal to intervene here with a firearm as an armed citizen.
Remember the rules, you can only use lethal force to defend someone else who is an innocent third party. This gangbanger trying to shoot what appears to me to be a couple of drug dealers is far from an innocent third party. I wouldn’t get involved in this one at all, not even as an off-duty cop.
It isn’t sexy, but maybe John Farnam’s advice about avoiding “stupid places, stupid people, and stupid things” might be the best possible suggestion here. Avoid areas where drugs are sold openly on the street. Avoid the dealers who sell those drugs. Your life will be much safer as a result.
Thanks for the question Alex!