'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

18 October 2010


From the 'You Just Never Know' file.

Baltimore City detective Brian Stevenson was killed on Saturday night while off duty by Sian James during a dispute over a parking space. I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened but it doesn't take Holmes or Poirot to put together some pieces. There are a couple of lessons to be learned here.

In more than 24 years of experience as a police officer I saw more anger over parking spaces than anything else barring only domestic disputes. Maybe. Seriously, people get pissed over the idea that someone else has taken a space they believe belongs to them. I've seen people drive over someone who's standing in a space, 'saving it' for someone else. I've seen parking control officers and cops assaulted over a 25 dollar parking ticket. I've had normal citizens turn into raving lunatics when the think they've been slighted out of a choice space.

Violence can happen anywhere and anytime. If you're not prepared to defend your life at all times you're not prepared. If we knew when and where the bottom was going to drop out life would be sweet. We don't so we need to act like it.

I used to tell people to constantly evaluate potentially negative social interactions. Ask yourself; Will this be the last act of my life? Is this worth dying or killing over? We may have no choice but in most cases we do. I quote Louis Awerbuck on this incessantly. I live my life devoted to avoidance and de-escalation. If I can cross the street to avoid a fight I'll do it. If I need to park a block away to avoid the circling sharks I'll do that. If someone else wants that space and it looks like an argument may ensue I'll find another. It's not cowardice it's good common sense and may save your life or life savings spent on a defense lawyer. If I never get into another fight as long as I live I'll die a satisfied and grateful man. It may not be possible but I'm going to live as if it is.

If you're out at the clubs expect to meet people who have imbibed more than they can handle. Alcohol doesn't cause us to do things we shouldn't, it lowers our inhibitions and control over the less social aspects of our personalities. Drunks aren't violent because they're drunk. They're violent by nature and that nature is exposed while under the influence of intoxicating substances. Avoid drunks like they're plague carriers.

If the choices have been taken from you and you're faced with a fight for your life, recognize it quickly and react accordingly. A rock is a deadly weapon. A screwdriver is a deadly weapon. The human body is a deadly weapon. The list of things that can take your life is long and varied and you may only have a split second for recognition and reaction. Proper mindset is essential. I'm not saying we should all go around in a constant red state but when the angry words and balled fists begin it's time to realize bad things may be imminent and maybe we should work our plan. You do have a plan, right? If someone reaches for a chunk of concrete I'm reaching for my gun and as his hand rears back to deliver that missile I'll be delivering some 180 grain dissuasion. If they desist before the gunsmoke appears it's all good. Disengage and call in the cops. If they persist then protect yourself.

Sian James is a mutt and no doubt with a violent history. He needs to go away forever. Brian Stevenson sounds like a great officer and a fine man and I grieve with his family and friends. It's a damn shame what happened to him and my heart goes out to the Baltimore PD and the Stevenson family, especially his wife and three children. Let's hope we can all learn from this tragedy and not become statics ourselves.

Be alert at all times. Use common sense. Listen to that nagging little voice in the back of your head that's screaming and pushing the alarm bell. He may have seen something you missed. Have a plan. Be as physically fit as possible. Be determined. Plan your fight and fight your plan but be flexible to a changing tactical environment. Be prepared to go to the weapon of last resort as early as is necessary. Your use of force ladder may very well start at the top rung.

And if you do find yourself in the nightmare of a shooting I want you to repeat after me. "I was in fear of my life. I'm sorry officer but I'm just too upset to talk any more right now. I need to have my lawyer present before I'll be able to answer any questions". The good cops will understand and you shouldn't be talking to the others anyway.

Stay safe out there.



Anonymous said...

Thanks, Six, for a thoughtful, well written blog. Wise and compassionate words indeed! As the husband of a retired state and federal prosecutor (two state capital cases from start to FINISH!), the brother and uncle of career LEOs, and a second career as the trainer for USICE Citation InterceptorJet pilots, I,too, grieve when we lose one of our finest. respectfully, Alemaster

Anonymous said...

Good post, but I would shorten up the advice to victims when interacting with the police:

"I was in fear for my life and I want my attorney."

Best to keep it as simple as possible with no chance for a distraught victim to make any ill advised elaborations. With due respect to you since you are one of the good ones, but I don't advise my students to talk to the cops, good ones or bad ones. They don't call lawyers "mouth piece" for nothing.

Rourke said...

Great post.....

When I was younger I did stupid things for stupid reasons. Creative hand "signals" taken as threats to humanity almost leading to hand-to-hand combat. Jumping on a bus to grab a kid that was bothering my girlfriend and having the police called on me. Arguing with someeone over who was looking at who....people are just stupid sometimes - including me.

Thank god nothing serious ever happened and I smartened up.


Six said...

Thanks for the kind words Alemaster. I'm glad to have you here.

It's a shame Warriorgeek but we've got to take care of ourselves if we're ever in that situation.

I'm with you Rourke. Sometimes I wonder how I ever lived long enough to become an actual adult.