Late last week the New York Post ran a story that would be the stuff of nightmares for every law enforcement officer in the United States.
NYPD checking ammo after knife wielder’s jacket stops cops’ bullets
Four of the shots that cops fired at a madman waving a knife in Midtown failed to penetrate his jacket — which was not bulletproof — and the NYPD will now check the weapons for malfunction, law enforcement sources told The Post.
“The bullets we have may be defective and that’s very disturbing,” one source said. “When we fire our weapons, we want to make damn sure that our bullets hit our target — neutralizing our target.”
A sergeant and an officer fired a total of nine rounds at 46-year-old Garry Conrad on Wednesday, with one of the shots killing the depressed Broadway stagehand who refused to drop the blade at West 49th Street and Eighth Avenue.
Four of the bullets got lodged in Conrad’s Carhartt jacket, sources said, adding that he was not wearing a bulletproof vest.
Another shot grazed the wrist of bystander Lauran Code, a 46-year-old lingerie designer from California.
Sources said the incident does not appear to be a pattern, but the 9mm guns used by the officers are going to be checked for malfunctions.
There’s a great and profane line from the movie My Cousin Vinny that sums up this story perfectly.
Unless they’ve changed things very recently, the NYPD issues Speer’s 124-grain Gold Dot hollow-point +P load in their approved duty handguns. It is one of the most proven loads in law enforcement and civilian self defense shootings.
Here’s what happens when you fire this load into ballistics gelatin, through four layers of heavy denim. This test does a fair job of what you might expect the bullet to due in human tissue after hitting a heavy coat.
Lucky Gunner Labs has also done a nearly identical test (results shown below).
Both of these tests followed FBI ammunition testing protocols, where they fire through four layers of heavy denim, very similar to the material you’ll find in a Carhartt jacket.
There is simply no way that the story reported by the Post is true. A 9mm bullet moving at over 1,200 feet per second isn’t going to be slowed, much less stopped, by anything less than soft body armor.
The laws of physics don’t change in New York City, so what really happened?
Odds are hovering right around 100% that Mr. Conrad was shot in one part of his torso, the bullets pass through his body and expanded as they are designed to do, had just enough energy to punch through the skin on the opposite side of his body, and then was stopped as it hit the back side of the jacket.
We know that is what happened because we see this exact same scenario play out consistently in ballistic tests like those shown above, and in other real-life shootings.
I recently did The Armed Parent/Guardian (TAP/G) class with Citizen’s Defense Research, where we tested another premium hollow point bullet very similar to the Gold Dot, the 124-grain Federal HST.
This was our testing block, with 4 layers of denim on the front and back to simulate a person.
You know what happened when we shot it?
The 124-grain bullet passed through the front layers of material, passed through the entire 16″ block of gelatin, and stopped when it hit the material on the back side of the block, exactly like it was designed to do.
As sensational as the story was (and it makes a great fictional story), the NYPD “sources” either intentionally lied to these journalists, or were simply passing along ignorance gathered in a stationhouse game of telephone, where cops in a city with little no no gun culture spread ignorance because they didn’t know any better.
The reality of the matter is that Garry Conrad was likely killed by one or more of the four bullets that the Post portrayed as bouncing off his jacket, when they easily punched through the jacket, passed through his entire body, and expended their energy as they were designed to do, so that they were stopped when they hit the material on the far side.
Far from being a story about an ammunition failure, this is a story of bullets functioning exactly as they were designed to function.
It’s too bad that the Post was so easily duped into running this story.
It’s even worse that their NYPD sources fed them an obvious and easily disproven lie.