A loudmouth female police cadet, Trayvon Martin, and the “Knockout Game”
In one of the police academies I attended we watched a video of a police shooting. Two officers in two patrol cars were on a traffic stop and tried to arrest a passenger who had given them a fake name. The passenger started swinging, punched both officers and knocked them to the ground, then ran toward the second patrol car. One of the officers shot him.
Several cadets expressed outrage at the shooting. I had already been a cop for a few years, and had a different view. I argued that the cadets should look at the incident from the officers’ perspective. The officers were making a lawful arrest, they had both been assaulted and beaten badly, and may have thought the suspect was running toward the second patrol car to retrieve a weapon. At that point, a few years into my career, I had already been knocked silly a couple of times, and I knew those officers probably had their bells rung and could have honestly believed they were in life-threatening danger. I didn’t argue that the officers were definitely right, just that the situation may have been more complex than the inexperienced cadets thought.
One female cadet blurted, “Just because you were already a cop, you think that whatever cops do is right!”
I groaned quietly. “No. I’m saying the officers got the crap beat out of them and may have thought the suspect was about to get one of their shotguns and shoot them.” Then I asked, “Have you ever been in a fight?”
“I’ve been in lots of fights!” she exclaimed. “I’ve been in fights at school and at clubs, I know what it’s like to get in a fight. Those cops had no reason to shoot that guy. All he did was hit them.”
The instructor shut our conversation down. I didn’t bring it up again. Until several months later, after the female cadet learned a hard lesson.
Toward the end of the academy we went through a very difficult training exercise. We had to run around the academy building, run up and down stairs several times, drag a dummy and a few other things, then get into a ring and fight an instructor for several minutes. The instructor was all padded up, and all we had was a soft foam baton and fake pistol. Most of the cadets got into the ring totally worn out, then got worked over by the instructor.
I was standing outside the ring when the female cadet went through. The instructor she faced was a very strong, female workout fanatic. The cadet ran into the ring panting and sweating, faced the instructor and yelled, “You’re under arrest! Turn around and put your hands behind your back!”
Without a word, the instructor threw a blindingly fast punch and nailed the cadet right between the eyes.
The cadet slammed onto her back. Her eyes were wide open and staring straight up, her mouth hanging slack. She was totally dazed from the blow. You could almost see the birds and stars swirling around her head.
Everyone screamed at her to get up. She eventually did, and did her best to put up a defense. But the fight was pretty much over after the first hit.
After the exercise, I casually said to the cadet, “So, I thought you had been in a lot of fights.”
She answered, “Yeah, but not like that! I was in girl fights. All we did was scratch each other and pull hair. That instructor hit me like a man.”
As I said, she learned an important lesson that day. If that instructor hadn’t knocked the crap out of her, she might have hit the street not knowing that one punch can completely disable someone. The cadet went on to become a very good officer.
During the uproar over the Trayvon Martin court case, I heard a lot of intelligent, educated people comment that “All Trayvon did was hit Zimmerman. That’s no reason to shoot someone.” And I saw in them the same ignorance of reality that the instructor had beaten out of the female cadet.
The people who made those comments have probably never been in a real fight. But, like the cadet, they think they have. They maybe had a few schoolyard scuffles, where neither side was trying to kill the other. They threw a few punches and kicks, without intending to really hurt their opponent, and their opponent landed a few blows without really hurting them. Worst case, someone got a bloody nose, or split lip. Maybe these people only watched others fight, and were never in one themselves.
But no matter. Even though their mental concept of a fight is two five year olds slapping each other under the monkey bars, they still believe their narrow experience with “fighting” makes them qualified to dictate when we’re allowed to use a gun to defend ourselves from someone who’s “only” throwing punches. They don’t seem to notice that no UFC or MMA fighters, people with real, actual fighting experience, are proclaiming “Your life can’t be in danger from being punched.”
Well, here’s some reality for those who think it’s always wrong to shoot an unarmed person, or who can’t fathom how George Zimmerman could have possibly been justified in shooting Trayvon Martin.
Last year an El Paso, Texas police officer was beaten to death by an unarmed 17 year old. The teenager punched the officer, knocked him backward onto the concrete, then straddled him and beat him severely. The officer never regained consciousness and died nine days later. He was a 29 year old Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
A few days ago an off-duty NYPD officer was knocked out with one punch. His attacker then repeatedly punched and kicked him while he was unconscious and helpless, and also slammed the back of his head into the concrete. The officer is currently in a medically-induced coma.
Here’s the video of the attack on the NYPD officer. Please watch the whole thing.
Unarmed teenagers playing the “Knockout Game”, which has suddenly become a subject of nationwide outrage, have killed at least three people.
Watch the video on the link. Tell me that none of those victims were in danger of dying from those attacks. If you can watch that innocent, unsuspecting woman get knocked unconscious at the 2:00 mark and say, “But the person who hit her was unarmed and therefore no danger to her,” you’re worse than “ignorant”. You’re willfully blind to an obvious truth.
Incidents like the ones listed above should push good, decent people to not only arm themselves but to also be constantly vigilant and situationally aware. In the two incidents involving police officers, I don’t know if they were armed. As strange as it is to me, some cops don’t carry off duty. If these two officers were armed, they didn’t maintain distance and escalate their use of force (draw their weapon) when it was reasonable and prudent to do so.
Carrying a gun doesn’t make anyone invincible, and should never be anyone’s sole means of defense. But possession of a concealed pistol, coupled with good situational awareness and will to act, can be what protects you from being beaten to death by an unarmed thug. I carry a weapon so I’m capable of responding to several different types of threats: street criminals with guns or knives, terrorist mall attacks, active shooters. And unarmed thugs capable of killing innocent people with their bare hands.
No, shooting an unarmed person who threatens to hit you shouldn’t be your default response. But very often it is the right thing to do.
If you watched those videos and still feel that it’s always wrong to shoot an unarmed person, or that George Zimmerman, moron though he may be, could not possibly have been justified in shooting Trayvon Martin, I have a request for you. Put down your latte, step out of your insulated little academic/theoretical cocoon, walk into the real world and start a fight with the first street thug you see. After you awaken from your brutal beating, if you still believe deadly force against an unarmed person is never justified, then by all means don’t carry a gun.
Guys like me, on the other hand, will continue to carry our guns. And if we’re someday confronted by an unarmed scumbag who looks like he could beat us to death, or if we spot the signs that we’re about to become a playtoy for the “Knockout Game”, we’re going to draw, aim, and engage as necessary. Because we’re not clueless idealists who know nothing about real life and real danger.
Filed under: Writing | 259 Comments
Tags: george zimmerman, knockout game, trayvon martin, veteran writers