Does the NYPD have a training problem?

A rookie NYPD officer is alive after being shot three times, after he and his partner exchanged gunfire with a fleeing suspect.

At a news conference Wednesday evening, NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III said the incident began when a a pair of rookie officers — James Li, 26, and Randy Chow, 30 — saw two people getting on a B46 city bus through the back door and attempting to evade paying.

One suspect ran off west on Empire Boulevard, turned, and fired at the two officers – striking Li. The two officers both returned fire, but Li fell to the ground while Chow pursued the suspect, Banks said.

Li suffered gunshot wounds to both legs and the groin, police said.


The firearm used by the suspect was recovered. As you might expect, he had multiple prior arrests and was wanted on a drug warrant. I don’t know a great deal about the older Smith & Wesson semi-autos, but it appears to be a battered old Model 4516, which is a .45 ACP with a 7-round magazine.

smith .45

The New York Times reports that the criminal fired three times, and hit Officer Li with all three shots.

Officer Li fired five times and missed, while Officer Chow fired twice and missed.Considering the shooting happened at what the Times said was “a crowded intersection,” it is fortunate that no innocent bystanders were hit.

The NYPD has displayed substandard accuracy in high profile cases in the past year. In December, officers shot two innocent bystanders when shooting at an unarmed but large mentally disturbed man reaching for his wallet. In August of last year, two officers shot nine innocent bystanders while firing upon armed murderer Jeffrey Johnson on a busy sidewalk.

In this latest incident, both officers Li and Chow had recently completed the police academy, with their handgun training still relatively fresh in their minds, yet neither man scored a hit in seven shots.

In these three incidents, NYPD officers shot 11 innocent bystanders, while striking only one of the three men they were targeting.

Does the inaccuracy of NYPD officers under stress suggest that the force might want to consider revamping their training methods to achieve better accuracy under stress?

In a densely-packed city like New York, officers should be trained to achieve highly accurate fire in even the most stressful conditions. No officer should face the horror of shooting an innocent citizen because they have been under-trained or wrongly trained, and no New Yorker should ever have to consider those sworn to protect them a bigger threat to their lives than the city’s criminals.

Photo credit: Jimmy Zitis