Most critics of the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers are truly naive souls who simply don’t know any better. Their knowledge of “violence” comes from reading novels, watching television or the movies, or perhaps from remembering schoolyard fights.
But real, life-or-death conflicts aren’t foreshadowed by an ominous change in music, witty repartee, or trash-talking. In many instances, the first clue that a person may have that another person is trying to kill them is when the attack itself commences without any warning at all.
We got a glimpse of that today, as David Baril, the mentally ill suspect in a string of vicious hammer attacks in New York City, turned and attacked a female NYPD officer. Baril likely only stopped because the officer’s partner immediately drew his service weapon and was able to shoot Baril from just feet away.
Remarkably, a nearby surveillance camera capture the entire event as it unfolded… in less than five seconds.
Not exactly sure what you just witnessed?
Let’s break it down for you.
The officers had been tracking the suspect and were about to attempt to take him into custody when the suspect (centered, below) pulled the claw hammer from his bag, raised it over his head, and began coming after the female NYPD officer, who wisely began attempting to get some distance between herself and the deranged attacker.
Baril then either grabs her by her shirt or her hair as she retreats into the street—it is very difficult from the quality of the video to tell for sure—and her partner gives chase, his weapon drawn and pointed at the suspect.
Cognizant of the fact that his partner is in his line of fire, Officer Geraldo Casaigne holds his fire as he closes his distance. The female officer, Lauren O’Rourke, is struck at least three times.
The suspect pulls O’Rourke’s shirt/hair so hard that she is pulled backwards, and she turns in towards him and simultaneously crouches. This motion drops her just out of Casaigne’s line of fire, giving him a split second to act. Casaigne seizes the opportunity and fires four quick shots, the muzzle of his gun just three feet from the suspect. He strikes Baril with two of the four shots. One bullet strikes Baril in the shoulder, the other is a critical hit to Baril’s back.
Baril drops to the ground immediately after being hit, and Officer Casaigne follows him down through his sights as he’s been trained. He quickly assesses the situation and determines that Baril is not longer a threat.
Less than nine seconds after the incident began, Casaigne has already holstered his weapon and is checking on his partner, helping O’Rourke to her feet.
That is just how quickly it happens, folks, and many times it happens much faster than that. Without any warning, a seemingly normal interaction can become deadly in the blink of an eye.
NOTE: A few activists critical of police have taken their local police departments up on offers to go through scenario-based training, and once they’ve walked the walk, even the most outspoken critic suddenly understands just how difficult it is to make decisions in real time when lives are on the line.