A number of years ago, comedian Chris Rock did a segment for his show, entitled, “How not to get your a** kicked by the police.” Clearly, he knows what he’s talking about. Rock has been pulled over three times within the past year, and has not “gotten his a** kicked by the police” even once.

Why? He was smart enough to follow his own advice.

Rock has posed a selfie of every time he's been pulled over in the past year.
Rock has posed a selfie of every time he’s been pulled over in the past year.

Unfortunately, the video he did was clearly not specific enough for some people.

Three teenagers were shot in a truck. Another teen was shot after a brief chase and an alleged carjacking. A fifth man took a bullet when he disobeyed orders and refused to pull his hand from his pocket.

Over 48 hours this past weekend, three South Florida police officers — two from Miami-Dade and one from South Miami —fired bullets that struck five victims. Police said in each case the officer feared for his life.

The five victims lived, with bullet wounds in arms and shoulders and upper torsos. All were arrested and charged with crimes ranging from resisting arrest without violence to grand theft, to aggravated assault on a police officer.

In only one instance was a weapon found.

“Our officers are trained to deal when confronted with a threat,” said Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.

 

Many people around the nation (and not just “Florida Man”) clearly aren’t getting it, its time to write a simple five-step list for folks to follow to keep from getting shot by police. I’ve had numerous encounters with law enforcement officers when armed with everything from handguns, to shotguns, to AR-15s, and I’ve also spent a lot of time training with police firearms instructors, so I think I’ve got a decent handle on this.

1. Keep your hands in plain view.

The number one concern of any officer making contact with a suspect is seeing both of your hands. As people have not learned how to hold knives with their feet or pull triggers with their ears, officers will want to see both of your hands at all times. Make sure that your hands are visible and empty of objects that could be construed as a weapon, and you will not be shot.

2. Relax and be polite.

Officers are not trained to identify specific objects before taking action, but for specific behaviors. The word I typically hear when training with law enforcement officers is that they are looking at your demeanor. If you are calm and polite and don’t present yourself as a threat, odds of you getting shot are very, very low.  If you are agitated, act aggressively, etc, you are not setting yourself up to have a good day.

3. Follow commands.

Officers have been trained in techniques and procedures that are designed to make their interactions with unknown people as safe as possible for both themselves and the public.  Literally tens of millions of interactions between citizens and law enforcement officers have shaped these procedures to help ensure that everyone walks away from the situation safely, even if they have to take you in. Do your best to listen to the officer(s) when he asks you to do something, and that do that to the best of your ability.

4. Move slowly. Announce your intentions.

No sudden movements. There have been numerous encounters where a contact was going swimmingly until the citizen stopped by an officer made a fast and unexpected movement that the officer interpreted as someone going for a weapon. In police parlance, it is know as a “furtive gesture.” They will shoot you if you suddenly reach into your pockets. Move with deliberation once you’ve been told to move, and only after tell the officer precisely what your going to do. “Officer, I’m going to reach for my wallet, which is in my back right pocket.”

5. Don’t resist.

If the officer decides for one reason or another that he needs to put you in handcuffs for a search or that he needs to arrest you, don’t resist arrest. Seriously. At any point in human history, has this ever convinced an officer to not arrest someone? No. Follow the officer’s commands and make your argument to the judge when you have your day in court.

Follow these five simple steps, and odds are that we won’t be reading about you in the news as doctors attempt to plug holes in your body, or your corpse is cooling in the morgue.