I recently saw a video of an incident that I believe happened in Brazil. The video is chock full of incredibly valuable lessons and includes a fantastic example of a surreptitious draw.
*NOTE: I have embedded the video. The video shows a man lose his life, and some people may find it disturbing. Use discretion.
Some question the motivation behind viewing these videos. While there are undoubtedly sick people who enjoy videos like this, I intend to learn from this to understand violence and our reaction to it better. So let's get into it.
Embedded Video Below:
Initial Decision to Carry a Gun:
This incident likely happened in Brazil. Armed robberies, kidnappings, and shootings are commonplace and part of daily life for many people living in central and South America. The good guy in this video is a law enforcement officer, and he is carrying a handgun. You may not be an LEO living in a crime-riddled part of the world, but do you carry your firearm? Do you carry it every day?
If you are an “I only carry in bad neighborhoods” or “I won't carry because I'm just going (fill in the blank)” concealed carrier, please consider reassessing that position.
There is physical unreadiness that comes from potentially not having the gun when you need it. And there is also mental unreadiness with the idea that you will be able to predict the locations you won't need a firearm to defend yourself or someone else. This post explains the components of a good self-defense mindset.
How you Carry:
Consider that the bad guy immediately wants the LEO's backpack. The bad guy might have done this in case the LEO had a weapon in his bag. However, I don't think that was the purpose. The robber didn't pat him down or search him as we sometimes see attackers do.
It seems more likely the bad guy just wanted what was inside of the backpack or so they could carry away more booty.
The point here is that had the LEO's handgun been inside his backpack, the bad guy would have had his firearm. It doesn't mean the bad guy would have killed him, but the LEO wouldn't have had the option to respond as he did, and the criminals would have made off with a gun.
There may be times and specific applications where carrying off-body is necessary. Even so, I highly recommend considering an option that allows you to keep the gun on your body, so you have access all the time.
The officer is carrying what looks to be a full-sized, semi-automatic pistol that likely has a capacity of at least 15 rounds. A shootout with one of two robbery suspects ensues. The LEO fires what looks to be 3 rounds before he has a malfunction (more on that later.) If his gun had not malfunctioned, it's safe to say he would have fired off more rounds. How many, who knows but 5 or 6 is a reasonable guess.
Does your firearm have a 6 round capacity? If not, consider that in this incident, only one of the two robbers has a handgun. If both would have brandished guns, would 6 rounds be enough?
Maybe, maybe not. And knowing the capacity of your gun should go into the calculus of drawing and engaging the bad guys in the first place.
The capacity of our everyday carry (EDC) gun is something we need to consider.
Assume The Worst:
We see the LEO's firearm malfunction after he fires the 3rd round. I don't see anything impede the slide's movement, and it looks like the gun goes back into battery after the slide cycles. We can only speculate on what the actual cause was.
The gun is flipping a bit as the LEO shoots, especially on the 3rd shot. It is hard to say, but the malfunction could be from a weak or loose grip, also called “limp-wristing.”
Loose grips usually don't happen on the gun range until the shooter is tired, under stress, or finds themselves in an unconventional position. Even if this wasn't the cause of the malfunction in this incident, I see it enough on the range to bring it up.
The best way to avoid causing this malfunction is to take a training course that exposes you to fatigue, and unconventional shooting positions. And then regularly practice achieving a strong grip no matter the situation.
Perhaps the malfunction was some internal malfunction or a bad round; we don't know.
However, when the LEO racks the slide to clear the malfunction, it looks like he partially ejects the magazine. Maybe he hit the magazine release during the third shot, and the next round never made it into the chamber.
This example is a good illustration of why our immediate action should be to re-seat the magazine before racking the slide. If this were the cause of that malfunction, re-seating the magazine and racking the slide would have gotten the gun back in the fight.
Cover Vs. Concealment:
There is a genuine difference between cover, something that provides ballistic protection, and concealment, something that merely hides you from view. Jacob wrote an article a while back explaining that in practice, concealment often works because there tends to be a natural aversion to shooting at a threat through things we can't see through.
We see that to a degree in this incident. The LEO wants to get clear hits on the gun-wielding robber. The two duck behind the counter, which provides little to no ballistic protection.
The LEO's gun malfunctions. He steps back slightly, clears the malfunction, and then moves to re-engage. When he does, he lunges forward and raises his body. Then, he closes the distance to see the bad guys and shoot down over the counter.
He could have decided to shoot through the counter, which would have exposed him less. In fact, one of his rounds seems to impact the counter anyhow. As you see in the still shot, he is super close to the robber's gun.
It is probably likely he didn't purposefully shoot through the counter in fear that a round would ricochet and strike an innocent person. Or perhaps to ensure he was getting effective hits. I think this is one of the reasons naturally we don't like shooting through things.
Hollowpoint rounds don't go through objects as well as ball ammo, but they will still easily penetrate drywall, car sheet metal, or a glass and wooden display counter.
The point is that we should consider how cover and concealment work in practice because, in a particular context, shooting through an object may be a good decision.
Factoring the Cost:
In this incident, the LEO decided to intervene even though there was a possibility that the criminals would have left once they got what they wanted. What are the calculations you would use in deciding when to act and when to comply? Of course, it will be different for every situation and individual, but here are a few things to consider.
- The suspect's verbal and nonverbal cues that show increased desperation
- The suspect increasing level of force
- The attacker moving you to another location
- The attacker showing a willingness to assert physical violence
- The number and proximity of attackers
- Your ability to escape
- Number of innocent people who are threatened
- Knowing your ability and factoring in the probability of making the shot you need to make
- Would acting draw my family into more danger or higher risk of being injured
And finally, as part of the decision to intervene or comply, we must remember good pistol skills do not guarantee you will survive a gunfight. There is always the possibility of death, even if you do everything right. This resolution is more straightforward if you have determined that doing nothing will likely result in you dying.
In this case, it doesn't appear that the robber got off any shots. At one point, it seems the LEO reacts as if the robber's gun fired. However, I don't see a muzzle blast, pressure wave, or even the paper on the counter move from the muzzle blast.
If the robber had gotten a shot off, the outcome might have been tragic for the LEO.
Clearly the bad guy's finger is on the trigger, and he's aimed the muzzle squarely at the LEO at around 30-40 inches.
Maybe his gun malfunctioned or never worked at all.
However, consider that the surviving accomplice takes the time to pull the gun from her partner's hand as he dies. If she knew the gun to be useless, I can't see her taking the time to take it with her.
By the grace of God, the only physical injury seems to be the bullet holes in the bad guy's chest.
Of course, we should never go into a fight assuming we will die, but we should always understand that is a possibility.
The Surreptitious Draw:
Lastly, let's talk about the surreptitious draw and its use. Typically, we think of a dynamic draw where speed is a driving factor of how we draw.
In a covert or secretive draw, we obscure our actions in getting our hand on the gun. Once we establish the grip, we draw dynamically at the right moment. The intent is to catch the attacker off guard. You now get to determine the go signal. With an average human reaction time around a quarter of a second, you just bought time to get the first shots on the attacker as now he has to react to you.
The surreptitious draw is something to consider when an attacker already has a firearm drawn. In this situation, a more clandestine draw stroke is sometimes preferable because even a sub-second draw may not be fast enough to stop a suspect from pulling the trigger of a gun pointed at you. We want to pick a moment of opportunity when we determine we will have the best success to draw and get immediately incapacitating shots on the threat.
Another advantage of the hidden draw is that movement draws the eye's attention. If you are part of a group of people held at gunpoint, a concealed draw may not catch the attention of the suspect's eyes as would a dynamic draw. That isn't to say dynamic draws would not be successful in this exact scenario. If you have both as options, you can choose the better one given the circumstances.
The LEO's Use of the Surreptitious draw:
In this incident, the LEO does a fantastic job of applying the principles mentioned above.
He initially complies and actually tosses the backpack away from his body. This technique is an excellent distraction to someone coming in close to pat you down. They may get fixated on the bag you just gave up and that you are cooperating so they may move on from dealing with you.
He is very observant of not only the guy with the gun but the partner. I am sure he determined that the partner was not armed, which would factor into his calculation to take action.
We also see the concept of stacking. Now, this somewhat just happened to occur, but stacking is the idea of bunching bad guys inline or close to each other. Again, we can do this by allowing them to do it on their own, as in this case, or trying to reposition ourselves in relationship to them.
Stacking allows us to focus on one area if we need to take action. And if we can put an unarmed bad guy between the armed bad guy and us, even better. We can see this play out in the video.
Not only does stacking make it harder for the armed person to deploy the weapon against you, but it obscures their view of what you are doing.
The good guy further concealed his actions because he goes to his knees on the opposite side of the counter from where the bad guys are. Our LEO's visible actions show compliance, but that doesn't mean he has given up. All the while, he calculates an appropriate response and picks the right opportunity.
When he reemerges from behind the counter, he gets off 3 shots before the guy with the gun even really knows what is going on. This lag in response from the bad guy shows the reaction time mentioned earlier.
The LEO also breaks contact with the robbers. In this case, it was probably at least partially due to his malfunction. Where you retreat to is also dependant on the situation and what innocent people are still at risk.
Another consideration is that he had no real cover and was exposed. So our bad guy didn't die right away. He was bleeding out quickly but still could squeeze the trigger.
Some tips for a clandestine draw:
Blade or angle the side of the body your gun is on from the attacker as you draw. Depending on your method of carrying, this may be easier than others. Typically this works for traditional (3 o'clock) inside the waistband (IWB) or small of the back (6'oclock) carry.
Squatting or bending slightly can help obscure a hidden draw from the appendix position.
Consider using items as a distraction to draw their eyes away from what you are doing with your dominant hand. If someone is demanding items, dropping them away from you on the ground can serve both of these purposes. When they bend down to retrieve the items, you may have time to draw, move to cover, etc.
You may also be able to mask movement to your gun, as a motion to get an item the robber is demanding. I may be able to make it look as though I am retrieving something from my pants pocket, but rather I am establishing a shooter's grip on my gun.
You can also cover your movement by holding something up in the line of sight of the bad guy. Picture holding up your phone, wallet, shopping bag, or purse up towards the suspect's face. Even when you hold up a small item relatively close to someone's face, they tend to focus on it. And sometimes, it creates a blind spot that would provide cover for your draw.
Analyzing these types of incidents is incredibly useful. I wanted to highlight just a few of the big takeaways from this incident.
What do you think about this shooting? What was the most unexpected thing? For me, it was the cold-heartedness of the female companion. Here is a photo of her after the police caught her. We can sometimes assume that people who commit these crimes have the face of a monster. But, clearly, that is not the case.