There’s an old saying about how you never bring a knife to a gunfight. Swords are often looked at as something different than knives and for valid reasons. Just because they’re sharp bits of metal, it doesn’t make them all that similar in how you wield one, much less carry it.
That said, you really shouldn’t bring a sword to a gunfight either.
Of course, that doesn’t mean people won’t do it. One would imagine that the kind of person who would take on a police officer with a sword is probably someone with profound mental health issues, which may be true. It also means we may see more of that kind of thing.
After all, we’ve had a couple of cases very recently, as a matter of fact.
First, there was an incident in Pamona, California.
The Pomona Police Department on Thursday, May 7, released a video from a uniform-worn camera that shows a police officer shooting to death a man who was wielding a sword.
Police Cpl. Chad Jensen tracked down Pacheco after Pacheco’s 41-year-old brother had reported being cut in the head by the sword. The video shows Pacheco hiding behind bushes as Jensen pulls up in his patrol car. Pacheco emerges and Jensen orders him to stop and show his hands. Instead, Pacheco pulls a 26-inch sword from his waistband, holding the weapon with both hands chest-high, and walks toward Jensen, ignoring the officer’s repeated commands to stop.
Jensen then fires as he is backpedaling, and Pacheco falls. Jensen radios in “998” — police code for an officer-involved shooting — and requests paramedics.
Here’s a video with the 9-1-1 call and video of the shooting. Some folks might find this disturbing, so viewer beware.
Now, this is an interesting enough case all on its own. In fact, I’d have probably written about this one as it was. The thing is, all I had was the video. I wanted a news story to look for any details that might not show up in the video.
While looking for what I thought would be a fairly unique story, I stumbled on a similar incident that took place in Las Vegas just a few days later.
Less than a minute before shooting a man holding a samurai sword with documented “mental health issues,” a Las Vegas police officer told him, “I’m trying to understand; I want to talk to you, I want to get you some help.”
But 40-year-old Justin Charland walked down the stairs at an east valley apartment complex, still holding the sword as he walked toward the officer and his partner, screaming “run.” The Metropolitan Police Department said Charland “lunged” at the officers before 27-year-old Vincent Segura shot him three times at about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Sandhill Apartments, 3000 S. Sandhill Road.
Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman said in a video statement released Friday that police had previously “provided services related to mental health issues” to Charland, although it was unclear when Charland had his last contact with police.
So, in at least one of these incidents, it’s clear that the deceased had a history of mental illness. That may well be the case in the other as well, though that information isn’t available right now.
I will say that I found it odd that we have two different people try to attack police officers with a sword. While it may just be a coincidence, it could also be people cracking under the strain of being locked down.
Look, I actually study sword fighting for fun. In particular, I study 15th Century longsword. I’m not an expert or anything, but I’ve been at it about a year now. In that time, I’ve learned one thing that I feel qualified to impart to you all. As a general rule, do not try to take on someone with a gun if you have a sword. Especially if they have the ability to radio other people with guns. Just because swordsmen do fancy stuff on TV and in the movies, don’t count on you being able to deflect bullets with the bit of steel you ordered online.
With that said, it’ll be interesting to see if there are more cases of people trying to attack police officers with swords or not.