When I joined the Marines, I met a man who had survived a helicopter crash during a training exercise. The first time I saw him his head and face were covered in burn scars. A balloon filled with saline, that looked like a dinosaur’s crest, was implanted in his scalp to stretch the skin so hair could grow. Something that looked exactly like the checkered buttstock of an M16A2 was imprinted on one side of his head. He greeted me when I checked in to my unit, and totally ignored the shocked expression I must have had when he approached. He shook my hand, asked a few questions, then left with a friendly “See you later, PFC.” His demeanor left me with the absurd thought, Maybe he doesn’t know how strange he looks.

He had been assigned to my reserve unit while undergoing treatment at a nearby military burn unit. I wound up becoming friends with him later, and eventually worked up the nerve to ask him about the crash. Of course, I quickly followed my question with, “But if you don’t want to talk about it, nevermind. Sorry.”

He brushed off my concerns. “Nah, no problem. The day I can’t talk about it is the day it starts to haunt me.”

He told me about loading up with his platoon in the helicopter that day. He described what it was like to see the ground coming through the window and realize they were about to crash. He talked about grabbing his seat belt release, being knocked unconscious on impact by his rifle butt slamming into his temple, and waking up on the floor with his head on fire. He told me how he crawled toward the exit, in flames, past screaming, burning Marines trapped in their seats. He recounted his memory of shouting that he would come back to help them. He told me how he managed to drag himself over the edge of the helicopter’s ramp and fall into a rice paddy. He told me about other Marines who saw the crash and ran to save him and some others. He talked about all the friends he lost that day, more than a dozen. He talked about how much he missed being an infantryman, and how he had made peace with the fact that he could never be one again.

What struck me was how easily he was able to tell the story. I had never heard of someone making a decision not to let trauma affect their lives. I had a great uncle, still alive then, who had been a Marine in the Korean War. He came back traumatized, took years to get back to normal, and to his dying day never told anyone in the family what he experienced. Even after I became a Marine, he gave me only the barest details of his service. As far as I know he never told his Marine son either. Unlike my friend, my uncle couldn’t talk about his trauma.

I’ve experienced trauma myself. I don’t know how many murder scenes I’ve worked as a police officer. I remember the shock I felt when I walked up to a car after a seemingly minor accident and saw a two year old’s head lying on the floorboard. I stood helplessly outside a burning house as a ninety-two year old woman died inside, while her son screamed hysterically beside me. For years after my time as a soldier in Iraq I’d have a startle response if I unexpectedly saw a flash, like from a camera, in my peripheral vision (it reminded me of flashes from roadside bombs). Soldiers near me were shot, burned or killed by weather in Afghanistan.

My childhood wasn’t rosy either; early one morning when I was eight I heard pounding on our kitchen door, then was terrified to see a family member stumble into the house covered in blood after being attacked by a neighbor. Even today, after thirty-five years, I still sometimes tense up when I hear a knock at the door. When I was ten, my eleven year old best friend committed suicide because of a minor sibling dispute. He wrote a note, left a will, snuck his father’s pistol from a drawer and shot himself. I was severely affected by his death, and ten years later got a copy of his suicide note from the city morgue. After I read it, I finally felt that I could heal from that horrible event.

I’m no stranger to trauma, and I’ve dealt with it by writing and talking about it. I suppose I’ve always defined “trauma” the traditional way: a terrible experience, usually involving significant loss or mortal danger, which left a lasting scar. However, I’ve recently discovered my definition of trauma is wrong. Trauma now seems to be pretty much anything that bothers anyone, in any way, ever. And the worst “trauma” seems to come not from horrible brushes with death like I described above; instead, they’re the result of racism and discrimination.

Over the last year I’ve heard references to “Microagressions” and “Trigger Warnings”. Trigger Warnings tell trauma victims that certain material may “contain disturbing themes that may trigger traumatic memories for sufferers”; it’s a way for them to continue avoiding what bothers them, rather than facing it (and the memories that get triggered often seem to be about discrimination, rather than mortal danger). Microaggressions are minor, seemingly innocuous statements that are actually stereotype-reinforcing trauma, even if the person making the statement meant nothing negative.

Here are two examples of “trauma” from the “Microaggression Project” (http://www.microaggressions.com/):

My dad jokes with my younger sister that he remembers selling Girl Scout Cookies when he was a Girl Scout. She laughs, understanding the fact that since he’s a boy means that he could not have been a Girl Scout. Thanks, Dad. I’m a boy and a formal Girl Scout.

The assumption that Girl Scouts will be girls. That causes trauma.

24, female-bodied, in a relationship – so Facebook shows me ads with babies, wedding dresses, and engagement rings. Change gender on Facebook to male – suddenly I get ads pertaining to things I actually care about.

Facebook thinking a woman might be interested in marriage and children. That causes trauma.

A horrible example of microaggression: asking someone if they've been to Europe. Photo credit http://purpmagazine.com/lets-discuss-nu-microaggressions/swag

A horrible example of microaggression: asking someone if they’ve been to Europe. Photo credit http://purpmagazine.com/lets-discuss-nu-microaggressions/swag

As one might expect, “Microaggressions” and “Trigger Warnings” are most popular in our universities. In late 2013 A group of UCLA students staged a “sit-in” protest against a professor for – no joke – correcting their papers. These “Graduate Students of Color” began an online petition stating “Students consistently report hostile classroom environments in which the effects of white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other forms of institutionalized oppression have manifested within the department and deride our intellectual capacity, methodological rigor, and ideological legitimacy. Empirical evidence indicates that these structural and interpersonal microaggressions wreak havoc on the psychophysiological health and retention rates of People of Color. The traumatic experiences of GSE&IS students and alumni confirm this reality” (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/931/772/264/ucla-call2action/).

A college professor expecting graduate students to write grammatically correct papers. That causes trauma.

In addition to correcting grammar, the professor insulted the “Graduate Students of Color” by changing “Indigenous” to the proper “indigenous” in their papers, thus reinforcing white colonial oppression of indigenous people. Oh, and he shook a black student’s arm during a discussion. “Making physical contact with a student is inappropriate, [the aggrieved Graduate Student of Color] added, and there are additional implications when an older white man does so with a younger black man” (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/25/ucla-grad-students-stage-sit-during-class-protest-what-they-see-racially-hostile).

A white professor gently touching a black student’s arm. That causes trauma.

More trauma-producing microaggression: asking someone about their ethnic background. "Typically, microaggressions are associated with subtle forms of racism, but they do go beyond race. For instance, 'You throw like a girl,' is a verbal microaggression, and the action of a White individual clutching his/her bag because a Latino is approaching, is a behavioral microaggression." From http://lagente.org/2014/01/gentistas-share-experiences-with-microaggressions/

More trauma-producing microaggression: asking someone about their ethnic background. “Typically, microaggressions are associated with subtle forms of racism, but they do go beyond race. For instance, “You throw like a girl,” is a verbal microaggression, and the action of a White individual clutching his/her bag because a Latino is approaching, is a behavioral microaggression.” From http://lagente.org/2014/01/gentistas-share-experiences-with-microaggressions/

I’ve reviewed these reports of “trauma”, and have reached a conclusion about them. I’m going to make a brief statement summarizing my conclusion. While I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don’t want victims of Microaggressions or supporters of Trigger Warnings to doubt my sincerity.

Fuck your trauma.

Yes, fuck your trauma. My sympathy for your suffering, whether that suffering was real or imaginary, ended when you demanded I change my life to avoid bringing up your bad memories. You don’t seem to have figured this out, but there is no “I must never be reminded of a negative experience” expectation in any culture anywhere on earth.

If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma”, especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say or think. Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life”, doomed to perpetual disappointment.

Reason.com

Reason.com

Oh, I should add: fuck my trauma too. I must be old-fashioned, but I always thought coming to terms with pain was part of growing up. I’ve never expected anyone to not knock on my door because it reminds me of that terrifying morning decades ago. I’ve never blown up at anyone for startling me with a camera flash (I’ve never even mentioned it to anyone who did). I’ve never expected anyone to not talk about Iraq or Afghanistan around me, even though some memories still hurt. I don’t need trigger warnings because a book might remind me of a murder victim I’ve seen.

And before anyone says it; being Hispanic doesn’t make me any more sympathetic to people who experience nonexistent, discriminatory “trauma”. Discrimination didn’t break me (or my parents, or grandparents). I’ve been discriminated against by whites for being Hispanic. I’ve been threatened by blacks for being white. I’ve been insulted by Hispanics for not being Hispanic enough. Big deal. None of that stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t “trauma”. It was life.

Generations of Americans experienced actual trauma. Our greatest generation survived the Depression, then fought the worst war in humanity’s history, then built the United States into the most successful nation that has ever existed. They didn’t accomplish any of that by being crystal eggshells that would shatter at the slightest provocation, they didn’t demand society change to protect their tender feelings. They simply dealt with the hardships of their past and moved on. Even my great uncle, the Korea Marine, never expected us to tiptoe around him. He wouldn’t talk about his experience, but he didn’t order us not to.

So again, fuck your trauma. If your past bothers you that much, get help. I honestly hope you come to terms with it. I hope you manage to move forward. I won’t say anything meant to dredge up bad memories, and don’t think anyone should intentionally try to harm your feelings.

But nobody, nobody, should censor themselves to protect you from your pathological, and pathologically stupid, sensitivities.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


2014 in review

02Jan15

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 1,000,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 43 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


This was published December 9th on Breach Bang Clear.

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Remember a couple years back, when that plane crashed in that city and killed all those people? And all the news networks talked about it for months? And every guest interviewed on the news said, “I don’t know anything about flying, but let me tell you what that pilot should have done”?

Reason.com photo

Reason.com photo

Or maybe you remember that incident not long ago, where doctors tried and failed to save a patient with a rare and deadly disease. After the patient died, “experts” with no medical training, knowledge or experience talked nonstop about what the doctors did wrong. “Those doctors must have no idea what they’re doing. All they had to do was make the patient not die. How hard is that?”

What? You don’t remember those incidents? That’s odd. Maybe you’ll remember this one.

There was this cop once, in some small town somewhere. He stopped a guy for something minor and let him go, then realized the guy was a suspect in a bigger crime and stopped him again. The guy attacked the cop. They fought, and eventually the cop shot and killed the guy.

And for months, people with literally zero training, knowledge or experience with lethal force encounters blathered on about what that cop should have done. They spoke on national media outlets. They wrote articles for newspapers and blogs. They spoke at public events. And they constantly said ridiculous, stupid things like “The officer should have shot Brown in the leg.”

Or “All the officer had to do was use a Taser, baton or pepper spray.”

Or “There’s never a reason to shoot an unarmed person.”

Or “That officer fired six times and there’s no way that can ever be justified.”

Or “That poor young man was executed for stealing cigars.”

Or “The officer must have been lying. An unarmed person would never attack an armed cop.”

Or “The cop should have been put on trial for murder so everyone could see whether he was guilty or not.”

Sound familiar? Could be you’ve heard a little something about this case. I have, and I’m sick of the constant storm of ignorant bullshit being spewed about it.

images_RCS Moduloader Frame Paddles
Brought to you by JTF Awesome.

I don’t mean that I’ve simply heard reasonable criticism of police practices, or honest questions about use of force. The public has every right to question how we police them. But I’ve heard comments so moronic I wonder if the person making them remembers how to breathe without instructions. Since Officer Darren Wilson was no-billed by a Grand Jury, the nonsense has only gotten worse. I don’t want people to stop asking questions, and I’m happy to give answers. But for god’s sake, at least try to find out what the hell you’re talking about before you broadcast your opinion to the entire world.

What’s most frustrating is that dumb comments often come from otherwise intelligent, reasonable people who don’t second-guess pilots, doctors or professionals in other fields. These commenters generally stay in their lane and don’t hold forth about things they know nothing about. But when it comes to law enforcement, they feel completely justified prattling for hours on a subject about which they’re completely blind.

Why the difference? As far as I can tell, it’s because the public respects pilots, doctors and almost all other professionals. But cops? We’re different. Any idiot can be a cop. No intelligence required.

Maybe that belief is due to a lifetime-plus of cultural conditioning. Since before I was born, cops have been portrayed in popular culture as fools. Yes, we’ve also had positive cops on TV and in the movies; even so, not many people know Crockett and Tubbs or Barney Miller, while almost everyone knows Officer Barbrady and Barney Fife. The apparent result of this cultural conditioning is a widespread belief that police work is simple. Much of the public doesn’t know our job is complex, dynamic, challenging and sometimes dangerous; rather, they think it’s dull, plain, and frankly beneath anyone with even average intelligence.

Who knows, maybe police work really is that simple and easy. My experience may be a total fluke. Police work has put me in some of the most mentally and physically demanding situations of my life. I’ve had to fight for survival. I’ve had to talk people out of suicide. I’ve had to anticipate the next moves of desperate fleeing criminals. I’ve had to decipher the terrified, stuttering words of crime victims in a race against the clock to get descriptions out before suspects could get too far from the scene. I’ve had to ignore the horrible suffering of innocent people in order to focus on my task of ensuring the guilty didn’t escape justice. I’ve exercised every ounce of discipline I had and held my fire when a drunk pointed a pistol at me, because I wasn’t sure who was behind him.

None of that was easy. Many of those situations were incredibly complicated. I had to make multiple snap judgments based on training, hard-earned experience, and highly nuanced understanding of human nature and my own biases and weaknesses. I’ve worked with a lot of smart men and women who faced situations just as difficult, and sometimes far more difficult, than those I faced.

I want the public to understand the difficulties, challenges and realities of police work. So I’m going to briefly address some of the ridiculous, moronic misunderstandings that I’ve seen and read. None of what I’m about to write even hints that cops are always right, or that private citizens should never question them; we cops are beholden to the public we serve, and we should answer honest questions from good people (I myself have a LOT of questions and concerns about the Eric Garner case in NYC). I hope my answers help those who truly want to understand why Officer Wilson opened fire that day. But I also hope it encourages rabble-rousing, clueless idiots frantically running their mouths about how police “should” handle lethal force encounters to shut up and swim back to the shallow end of the pool.

“The officer could have just shot Michael Brown in the leg or arm.”

No, he probably couldn’t have. A leg or arm is a small, easy to miss target. Darren Wilson was firing center mass at a large target, and still completely missed with several shots. Even if he had hit Brown’s arm or leg, that wouldn’t have guaranteed Brown would stop, or live. Limb shots rarely immediately disable people. Plus, they can damage an artery and cause death within minutes.

Watch this video of a femoral artery bleedout:

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Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/ferguson-idiot-cops-and-experts-who-know-nothing-at-all/#comment-31654

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


On November 28th, 2014, an active shooter shot up downtown Austin.

http://kxan.com/2014/12/01/chief-on-austin-gunman-hate-was-in-his-heart/

Unfortunately, that type of incident isn’t uncommon. The active shooter was a forty-nine year old man who was apparently angry at the government. That’s not uncommon either. Fortunately, before he managed to murder anyone he was killed by Austin police Sergeant Adam Johnson. That’s great, but it’s not exactly the most noteworthy aspect of this incident.

What really caught my attention was how the suspect was killed. Sergeant Johnson shot him from 104 yards away, with one shot from a pistol, firing one handed, while holding the reins of two horses.

A few comments I’ve read online suggested the 104-yard pistol shot was an Austin PD conspiracy, because such a shot is impossible. I’ve also heard people say Johnson must be lying or exaggerating. You just can’t shoot someone with one shot, one handed with a pistol from over a hundred yards away.

My own experience and training leads me to a different conclusion. That shot would be amazingly difficult, but not impossible.

My first experience with a long-distance shot

Most police officers never train to shoot past twenty five yards. I’ve worked for three departments, plus served as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo, and I can’t recall ever shooting a pistol at long range during police training. But I’ve taken a few pistol courses from private training companies. One of them was at Tiger Valley, near Waco, Texas.

The owner/instructor, TJ Pilling, lined us up on the pistol range one day and said we were going to have a competition. He told us to fire one shot at our targets, which were half-size steel silhouettes. We were at twenty-five yards, and we all hit. He backed us up to thirty-five yards and told us to fire again. We all hit. Forty-five yards. A few missed. Fifty-five yards. Only I and one other officer hit. Sixty-five. I was firing a .40 Glock 22, and aimed just over the top of the target’s head. I missed. The other officer hit.

TJ asked me if I aimed high. I told him I did. He said, “Aim center mass.” I did, and shocked the hell out of myself by hitting the target.

TJ walked us to a bay with a full-size silhouette target at 110 yards, and said, “If you have a 9mm, aim center mass. If it’s a .40, aim at the neck.”

The guys with 9mms started pinging the crap out of the target. I fired several shots standing and couldn’t get a hit, so I went prone and tried again. Eventually, after a spotter helped me walk the rounds in like a mortar, I made repeated hits.

I was, to put it mildly, surprised. I’d been a cop for twelve years at that point, and all my training had focused on shooting twenty-five yards and closer. I’d been in the military seventeen years but received almost no pistol training from either the Marines or Army. Conventional wisdom taught me pistols were last-ditch, close-in weapons, and shooting at someone even twenty-five yards away was stretching it. I had struggled to make accurate hits at twenty-five, had missed a target at that range more than once, and had seen cops and soldiers miss numerous shots even closer than that.

So how the hell was I hitting a target at 110 yards?

Tiger Valley’s training course taught me that my duty pistol was capable of far better accuracy than I thought. But I figured if I ever got into a real shooting on duty factors like movement, incoming rounds and reduced lighting would reduce my accuracy by about half. If I had a smaller off-duty pistol, the results would be even worse.

Then I went to a Graham Combat class

Last June I attended a Graham Combat class in Virginia. The instructor, Matt Graham, asked if we had ever fired a pistol at 100 yards. I told him about my experience having to lay prone and walk rounds in. He smiled and said, “We’ll fix that.”

At that class I was firing a 9mm Beretta Nano, more or less a pocket pistol. It’s a tiny gun, with a tiny barrel, and there was no way I’d make long-distance hits with it. Everyone else in the class was firing full-size Glocks and Colt .45s, and I figured they’d way outshoot me at any distance.

My Nano and me at the Graham Combat class. The pistol was accurate and ergonomic, but malfunctioned so often I stopped carrying it.

My Nano and me at the Graham Combat class. The pistol was accurate and ergonomic, but malfunctioned so often I stopped carrying it.

After we fired several hundred rounds during numerous drills, Matt lined us up at twenty-five yards and started the distance drill. As we backed up I found myself surprised again; I was hitting steel well past what I thought my pistol’s max effective range was. I didn’t start missing until we got to around seventy-five yards, but even then I was able to make adjustments and get back on target (the further we got, the further low and left I had to aim). We kept backing up, and I kept managing to put rounds on target. Some students quit, but a few of us kept shooting.

Eventually we were at 130 yards, the max we could do on that range. An officer with a Colt .45 went first, and made a hit with her first shot. Nobody else wanted to do it. I stepped up.

The Nano has a double-action-only trigger; every time you shoot, it’s like firing a revolver with the hammer forward. A trigger pull that long and heavy causes muscle strain that makes the shooter’s hands tremble, which decreases accuracy. That, along with the fact that at seventy-five yards I was aiming way off the target, convinced me I’d have to fire at least several shots before I managed to make a hit (if I was able to hit at all). I picked an imaginary spot in the dirt about three feet low and five feet left, focused on the front sight, and started to squeeze.

My hands were shaking badly. The trigger squeeze took forever. My front sight seemed to bounce all around my imaginary aiming point. The weapon fired. What felt like a long silence followed.

Then we heard a loud “ping!” as my round hit the target.

Surprised exclamations erupted from the other students. I probably yelled something like “holy S**t!” Then I looked around. We had two professional photographers with us. Neither had recorded the shot. Damn my luck. There was no way in hell I was going to try the shot again. Now I’d have to listen to my buddies accuse me of being full of crap, because I had no proof I had done it.

But I had again learned a valuable lesson about my weapon’s capabilities. Contrary to conventional wisdom and my own prior beliefs, even a small concealed carry pistol is good at distances past 100 meters. A good pistol plus good training equals a shooter capable of making hits at much longer distances than most people think possible. Graham told us he’s had students make pistol hits at 230 yards during his classes.

But training classes are far from the only proof that decent shooters can make long-distance shots with pistols.

An Airman’s long, lucky shot

On June 20th, 1994, an Airman provided proof of a pistol’s effectiveness. That day, another Airman about to be discharged from the Air Force against his will walked into a building on Fairchild Air Force Base, in the state of Washington, with an AK-type rifle. He killed a psychiatrist and psychologist who had recommended him for discharge, went on to kill two random victims, and also shot twenty-two others.

As the shooter walked outside, twenty-five year old Airman Andrew Brown, a military police officer, approached him on a bicycle. Brown jumped off his bike, drew his Beretta M9 and ordered the shooter to drop his weapon (for future reference, if someone is wandering around with an AK murdering people, there’s no reason to order him to drop his weapon before you engage). Brown was approximately seventy yards away when he shouted the order.

The shooter opened fire on Brown. Brown crouched low and fired four rounds. Two missed, one hit the shooter in the shoulder, and one hit him right between the eyes. The shooter fell dead. Airman Brown had made an amazing shot, killed an active shooter and undoubtedly saved numerous lives.

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8767

Trick shooters and freaks of nature

Then there are guys like “Instructor Zero”, a former Italian Army soldier known for unreal weapons skills. Zero has a YouTube video where he makes several 300 meter hits with a pistol.

Crazier than that is this video, where champion shooter Jerry Miculek hits a balloon at 1000 yards with a revolver.

There seems to be no question that highly skilled and experienced pistol shooters can outshoot most rifle shooters.

“The police must be lying about that pistol shot.”

Probably not. Sure, any one cop can lie about what he did on a scene. But on a shooting scene, you have multiple entities crosschecking evidence. Patrol officers and supervisors make the initial assessment, secure the scene and any evidence they can see. Then homicide investigators arrive, usually with a Crime Scene Unit. Then investigators from the Medical Examiner’s office conduct their own investigation. In this case the FBI investigated as well.

Even if the patrol supervisors, Homicide investigators and CSU simply accepted Sergeant Johnson’s version of events (they wouldn’t), the Medical Examiner’s people and FBI wouldn’t. Distances are measured by each investigative division, the angle of the round’s impact is analyzed to determine what direction it came from, and the location of spent shells is recorded (shells are usually what’s under the little plastic markers you see in crime scene photos and videos). Everything about the shooting is documented and recorded. Each agency reaches its own conclusions about how the shooting unfolded. My educated guess here is that Austin PD chief Art Acevedo didn’t make his announcement about the 104-yard shot until after the Medical Examiner and FBI corroborated Austin PD’s conclusion.

But let’s assume Johnson shot the suspect from much closer, then lied about where he shot from. He would have had to shoot, then pick up the spent shell, then drop it at a different location further away. And he’d have to do it while a flurry of activity was going on around him, since a mass shooting in downtown Austin is kind of a big deal and brings out lots of witnesses. And Johnson would know tons of potential witnesses were around who could say, “Wait a minute, I was looking out the window during the shooting and saw the cop in a totally different spot than he claimed.” This was a high-profile shooting, investigated by multiple agencies. The chances of pulling off a whopper of a lie like “I shot the suspect from 104 yards away”, when the real distance was only 10.4 yards, would be next to impossible.

I don’t see how Johnson could lie about this one and get away with it.

But could Sergeant Johnson really make a 104 yard shot one handed?

That’s a fair question. Yes I made hits at over 100 yards, Instructor Zero did it at 300 meters, Jerry Miculek did it at 1000 yards, and Airman Andrew Brown made two shots at seventy yards when it really counted. But all of those were with a good two-handed grip against mostly stationary targets. How could Johnson make that shot one handed, probably against a moving target, while holding the reins of two horses that were also probably moving?

The answer is, he was extremely lucky. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have pistol skills; without significant training and experience, he would have hit nowhere near the suspect. But with so many factors involved, luck played a huge role. Maybe the suspect moved six inches in the half-second it took the bullet to leave the pistol and hit him, and that six inches caused the round to hit his heart instead of a non-vital area. Maybe the suspect stopped in front of a brick wall with nobody else around, and Sergeant Johnson was under less stress because had no concerns about hitting innocent people. Maybe the suspect had no idea Johnson was there (he was reportedly under pressure from other officers advancing on him), and that gave Johnson plenty of time to aim in and slowly squeeze the trigger rather than rush the shot. Whatever the factors were, they must have all come together perfectly to help Johnson hit him from that distance.

As far as I can tell, Sergeant Adam Johnson made an amazing and lucky shot, when the city of Austin really needed him to. I hope I get to shake his hand someday.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


Fury-movie-Shermans-vs-Tiger

This was published last week on Breach Bang Clear.

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Over a month ago, Fury was released. I watched it just after opening weekend and again last week with a French soldier I met in Afghanistan. There’s a reason I waited before writing this followup; a real review had to capture the depth of meaning I had just witnessed. Simply writing about the cinematography or acting wouldn’t do the film justice.

Fury wasn’t just a movie. It was a lesson, a window into the American soul, and a direct path to some of my most intense wartime memories. The movie didn’t just take me back to Iraq and Afghanistan; oddly enough, it also took me to a movie theater in Prishtina, Kosovo, in late 2000.

That fall, Albanian friends took me to see a Kosovo-made movie titled Autumn of Roses. This was just a year after the NATO-led fight against Serbians to protect Albanians, and the air was still thick with the pain of war and ethnic cleansing. Autumn of Roses was the Albanian view of themselves and their enemies. While the Albanians were all perfect victims or perfect heroes, Serbs were the very archetype of evil. As a foreigner, I easily recognized the moviemaker’s appeal to cherished Albanian cultural myths. The mostly-Albanian audience, however, didn’t see what I saw. Some left the audience in tears, and I strongly suspect the movie reinforced their beliefs about both their own rightness and their enemy’s wrongness.

When I saw Fury the second time, I asked my French soldier buddy what he thought. He enthusiastically blurted, “It was very good!” Then he added, “But, it was, how you say, eh…”

I asked, “American?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “It was very American.”

Fury-Battle-with-a-Tiger

Fury accomplished the same goals for American moviegoers as Autumn of Roses did for Albanians. Like the audience in Prishtina, I doubt most of us recognize the blatant appeal to American mythology.

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/fury-was-it-everything-we-hoped-it-would-be/

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


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We’ll hear the Grand Jury’s decision on the Ferguson, Missouri shooting any day now. Police departments in the area have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare for possible riots after the decision is announced, and the Missouri National Guard has been mobilized. We (allegedly) don’t know what the Grand Jury is going to say, but the future seems pretty clear to me.

Officer Darren Wilson isn’t going to be indicted.

The leaked Grand Jury testimony we’ve heard thus far seems calculated to soften the blow: numerous black witnesses corroborated Officer Wilson’s account. Evidence proves Michael Brown was shot in the hand during a struggle inside the police car after he assaulted Wilson. Brown wasn’t shot in the back as originally claimed. Brown didn’t have his hands up. Basically, the public is being prepared to hear “no charges against Officer Wilson”.

If I’m right we’re going to see riots, probably in several cities. Police officers will become targets, whether or not they’ve ever done anything “wrong”. The riots, damage and retaliation murders could equal or even rival 1992’s LA Riots, which killed 53 people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Los_Angeles_riots).

We’ll also see random assaults on whites, probably nationwide. Some whites, like Ellis Haines who was killed by a mob of black youths during the LA Riots, will be murdered just for being white (http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~oliver/soc220/Lectures220/AfricanAmericans/LA%20Riot%201992%20Deaths.htm). Others will be attacked and survive, just like Reginald Denny in South Central LA. He was beaten, hit in the head with a brick and shot at from close range. Other minorities will be attacked for not being black, like Fidel Lopez. He was beaten with a car stereo, robbed, spray-painted black, and one rioter tried to slice his ear off.

Fortunately, many black voices are urging calm and peaceful protests. Unfortunately, others aren’t.

On November 13th, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published this “Q&A for people tired of Ferguson protests” (http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/q-a-for-people-tired-of-ferguson-protests/article_1cb26dec-d2b6-5ddd-aba9-b6110c0a71f5.html?mobile_touch=true). This article had answers from the “Don’t Shoot Coalition”, a group of “over 50 social justice organizations”. The group didn’t make any overt appeals for violence. But they did make some comments that certainly seem to justify taking action against the innocent.

In response to the question “What good does it do to disrupt businesses and people’s lives, when these people are not part of the problem?”, the DSC said this:

“Your question does not reflect the whole picture. This involves all of us. It’s wrong to simply draw arbitrary boundaries around issues like fair policing, and decide that most folks are not involved. Many people — especially white folks — feel they can ignore the problem. People who benefit from or are not impacted by this unfair system have a duty to speak up and not be complicit. Ferguson has shifted the boundary line. It is not enough to say, ‘I’m not racist’ just because you have suppressed your conscious biases. The protests are designed to make people feel uncomfortable and spur us all to end society’s structural biases.”

That sounds semi-reasonable. All the DSC wants to do is “spur us all to end society’s structural biases”, right?

Not exactly. I have serious concerns about a few points they make.

1) “Many people — especially white folks — feel they can ignore the problem. People who benefit from or are not impacted by this unfair system have a duty to speak up and not be complicit.”

So if I’m intentionally neutral on the Michael Brown case, I’m part of the problem? Let’s say Joe Citizen from Alabama adopts this position: Joe doesn’t trust cops and thinks Wilson probably shouldn’t have shot Brown. But Joe also thinks Brown was acting like a thug and doesn’t deserve sympathy or elevation to hero status. So Joe is waiting for the Grand Jury to announce its decision and present evidence before he decides whether or not the shooting was justified.

In my eyes, this makes Joe a reasonable guy. I’d disagree with Joe on a couple of his opinions, but I understand his point. Since Joe was obviously not involved in the incident, I’d say he bears no blame either way, and obviously has no responsibility to change society or demand justice for Brown (especially since we don’t even know if the killing of Brown was a crime).

The DSC doesn’t see it that way. According to them, Joe MUST speak up against what the DSC sees as an unfair system. If Joe doesn’t, then in the DSC’s eyes Joe is part of the problem. Especially if he’s white.

2) “It is not enough to say, ‘I’m not racist’ just because you have suppressed your conscious biases.”

This is fantastic. First, who is the DSC to decide what is “enough”? They don’t give orders to anyone, nobody is required to take whatever action the DSC deems necessary. This is America. People can respond to this situation as they see fit. If someone wants to peacefully protest or publicly speak, great. If someone wants to stay out of it, fine. If someone wants to say “I’m not racist”, no problem. That’s enough if they decide it’s enough.

And the “suppressed your conscious biases” comment makes a very strong statement. The DSC apparently assumes we’re horribly biased, and at best we’ve only gotten the conscious biases under control. This is a pretty good stretch, unless they’ve psychoanalyzed everyone in America.

3) “The protests are designed to make people feel uncomfortable and spur us all to end society’s structural biases.”

Well, they’ll accomplish one goal. They will make people feel uncomfortable, especially since at least some of them are planning on targeting white people (http://www.ijreview.com/2014/11/203806-ferguson-protesters-discuss-exactly-targeting-grand-jury-announcement/). As far as ending all of society’s structural biases, as soon as they get done with that they can work on getting the sun to rise in the west. Sorry, but humans are a biased bunch, and nobody’s changing that. The DSC is biased as hell, and they prove it with this next statement.

4) “Sure, judgments made through newspaper accounts and word of mouth are often flawed but, filtered through the black community’s lived experiences, they are still more trustworthy than the current legal process.”

So let’s get this straight: the DSC knows media accounts and shared stories are often wrong. But that doesn’t matter. Incorrect media reports and nonsensical “crooked cops shot this poor innocent gentle giant for no reason” rumors carry more weight than the results of an investigation. People who claim they’re against bias, then turn around and say “I don’t care about evidence, all I care about is how I feel” are the most biased of all.

So if Wilson isn’t indicted, we’re going to see riots and attacks. If Wilson is indicted, we’ll still see riots and attacks if he’s charged with anything less than murder. Brown’s supporters have decided Wilson is guilty, they don’t care that the media reports were wrong, they don’t care that witnesses supporting Brown were lying. They just know Wilson is guilty and that’s the end of it.

And they’ll be protesting all over the country, and even in Canada (what the hell does Canada have to do with this?). As usual, professional protestors will do all they can to provoke police, and every nutjob with some stupid agenda will join in. We’ll see communists, who want the state and police to have more power, protesting alongside people who demand that the state and police have less power. We’ll see “Occupy” protestors screaming about big corporations figuratively robbing the little guy, while simultaneously supporting a 6’4”, 300 pound bully who literally robbed a little guy.

Some demonstrations will be peaceful and well-organized, some will go insane. Check this link, it shows where and when many of the protests will be.

http://fergusonresponse.tumblr.com/

To my law enforcement brothers in and around Ferguson, and all over the country, stay safe. Things are going to get bad for us. To innocent people of any color in and around Ferguson, two things: don’t take unnecessary risks, and don’t let anyone victimize you. Don’t let protestors force you to take a side, don’t let them dictate what you “have to” think. If you have means to resist, don’t let anyone physically attack you, your family, home, business or property.

Some of the protestors will have legitimate grievances and will present them in a reasonable way. Some will use the protests as an excuse to be the thugs and looters they already were. Some will show their passion against racism and injustice by attacking innocent people of other races.

If Brown’s death showed how racist America supposedly is, wait til you see what protestors do when Wilson is cleared of wrongdoing.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


This was published yesterday on Task and Purpose.

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Earlier this month, C.J. Chivers at the New York Times dropped a bombshell report (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-casualties-of-iraq-chemical-weapons.html?_r=0). After we invaded Iraq in 2003, the Pentagon covered up casualties from chemical weapons left behind by Saddam Hussein. The story was immediately seized by many conservatives as proof President George W. Bush was right to launch the Iraq War in order to track down those weapons — weapons which, until now, were thought to have never been found.

Yes, weapons of mass destruction had been in Iraq at one time. I may have encountered one myself. But this “I-told-you so” claim is deeply flawed. And the details that Chivers unearthed do not change the narrative on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

At around 2 a.m. one silent Iraqi morning in the Fall of 2005, I stood by my Humvee waiting to start a mission. My convoy escort team was about to drag 20 empty civilian 18-wheeler trucks from Camp Anaconda all the way south to Tallil, our home base, near the ancient city of Ur. To get there, we’d take an eight-kilometer dirt road to Route Tampa, follow Tampa to Baghdad’s outskirts, weave around the perimeter of the city, hit open highway and head “home.”

Convoys were usually deathly boring. Until something blew up. Or tracers flew by. We’d keep our heads on swivels, scan the highway like mad and tense up at anything unusual. We did our best to spot an IED before it could hit us, but knew we’d probably never see the one that did. The road between Anaconda and Baghdad was a long stretch of blackened craters, evidence of countless attacks on convoys just like ours. Even then, less than three years into the war, hundreds of Americans had been killed by whatever made those craters. Nothing said we wouldn’t be next.

Sometimes we’d see others get hit. If an IED detonated on a convoy or patrol ahead of us, I always had a guilty sense of relief. That was one less that could get us.

That fall night, shortly after we weaved out of Anaconda’s gate, we saw an intense, brief flash in the distance. In the commander’s seat of the Humvee, I couldn’t hear the sound. But I knew what it was. An IED had just detonated several kilometers away on Route Tampa. Over the radio, we heard a patrol report the attack. We kept rolling.

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Read the rest at http://taskandpurpose.com/new-york-times-big-story-chemical-weapons-doesnt-change-narrative-iraq/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=TP-facebook&utm_campaign=new-york-times-big-story-chemical-weapons-doesnt-change-narrative-iraq

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).



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