We told you yesterday about the officer-involved shooting during a domestic violence incident at Dallas’s Love Field airport. A man identified as Shawn Nicholas Diamond began destroying his girlfriend’s car, smashing the glass of the vehicle with a traffic cone and large rocks before officers responded.
We now have security camera video of the incident from multiple angles, and what stuns me the most isn’t Diamond’s attack on the vehicle nor the officer’s eventual shooting of Diamond, but the obliviousness of the other people in the area who utterly refused to face the reality that they were in a very dangerous situation where they could easily find themselves injured or killed.
I’d suggest watching the video below twice: one time to see the conflicts between Diamond and his ex-girlfriend transitioning into a confrontation between Diamond and responding officers that led to his being shot, and the second time to notice the numerous citizens standing in close proximity to both the domestic violence attack and then the attack on the officer
Amazingly, other people near the domestic violence attack all but ignored the threat of the enraged Diamond attacking the vehicle. They either simply watched him continue his frenzied attack from yards away where he could just as easily have turned his rage on them, or they seemingly pretended that nothing was going on.
Here are some choice screen captures from the security camera footage.
The man in the white SUV was well aware of Diamond’s attack on his girlfriend’s car, having stopped to watch it briefly. Amazingly, he decides to ignore the potential threat. Even as officers arrive and draw their weapons, he decides to unload bags from the back of his SUV. Incredibly, the woman in the black SUV opens her door and gets out of her vehicle to get a better view of the attack on the vehicle just feet in front of her. She stands there even as the officer draws his gun on Diamond. It isn’t until the officer apparently yells at these people that the man runs from his SUV, and the woman gets back into her vehicle.
Lemmings have better self-defense instincts.
We then go to a different camera view, which is a bit dark because of the shadows. Diamond is on the lower center left of this camera view, the handgun-armed officer is in the middle center of the sidewalk, and what appears to be an officer with a taser drawn stands near the curb. Amazingly, people well aware that officers have their weapons drawn on a non-compliant individual just stand there and watch the dangerous confrontation going down right in front of them. One man is standing in front of a car by the curb. At least three more bystanders are right behind the officer with the drawn handgun. Diamond’s girlfriend is at the bottom of the frame, almost in the line of fire, transfixed.
No one is seeking cover or is attempting to move away from a very dangerous situation.
Four shots ring out as Diamond moves to rush the officer. Diamond collapses to the pavement. Amazingly, even after shots ring out, not a single soul has the instincts for self-preservation to run away from a still-active shooting in process. They cringe, and one or two take a few halting steps, but they’re all basically frozen. Diamond’s ex-girlfriend is the only one who takes more than a step, and she’s only slowly walking away in disbelief as Diamond attempts to rise and rush the officer a second time, resulting in five more shots being fired.
Here’s another video taken by another civilian who didn’t have the good sense to seek cover.
You’ll notice one or two women with the good sense to move away from the scene at the first sounds of gunfire. Amazingly, most people simply stood there, even though they had no idea what was going on, and few people were actually stupid enough to close in and get a better look as shots were still being fired!
What can we learn from this? A number of things.
Humans are slaves to their routines. They will often not deviate from normal behavior even in the face of obvious threats to their lives… and there’s a reason for this.
Think of your brain as a computer, and your daily routines as pre-programmed software routines. You’ve been programmed your entire life to act a certain way in civil society. When people run into situations far outside their areas of experience, many freeze up when they can’t readily access a program on how to handle that new situation.
They typically “lock up” in one of two ways. They either ignore the new situation and run a pre-programmed routine they do understand, such as the man continuing to unload luggage from his SUV, or they freeze until they can gather enough data to figure out what to do next. The woman who got out of her SUV in an attempt to process more data and formulate a response, and the dozen of more witnesses who either just stood there watching or who moved closer to the scene of the threat manifested this response.
Folks, people are often nothing more than stupid computers made of meat.
So what can we learn from this?
It’s simple: think about the kinds of possible (even improbable) scenarios and develop pre-programmed responses to threats. In this instance, seeing a crazed man smashing a car with large rocks should immediately trigger a response of, “get the heck away from there.”
Once officers arrived and drew their weapons, the pre-programmed response should be, “move away as fast as possible and find cover.”
We often talk about situational awareness, but that’s generally a load of crap. More than a dozen people in this incident had an awareness that something was going on. What they didn’t have was a pre-existing plan for how to deal with a dangerous incident.
As we’ve noted numerous times in the past, you will not rise to the occasion. Not one of the dozens of people standing around here did. What you will do is default your level of training.
Get good training and have a plan, folks. The next time something like this happens, the bad guy might be sending rounds downrange, too.