The Ross Jessop Incident, Revisited


“The officer should have set up a rolling perimeter.”

“The shooter was no longer a threat as his back was turned to the officer.”

“Once he stops shooting and leaves the scene the imminent threat is gone.”

And my personal favorite ...

“He violated policy by shooting at a moving vehicle!”

What are we talking about? Well if you missed last month’s article catch up by watching the accompanying video and reading the article.

Up to date? Great. So what do you think?

I don’t want to make this follow-up article too light or too glib, but I need to tell you: I’m having a helluva hard time seeing the other side of this situation.

I admit, I’m somewhat bias because I know Ross. But before I met him there wasn’t an iota of a second where I doubted his response to being shot at.

If you check the comments by police officers at the end of the original as well as the discussions on the incredibly popular law officer Facebook page, you’ll notice a common denominator: Jessop did what he had to do—he shot the bad guy.

But, as I mentioned in the first article, this doesn’t mean that Ross didn’t make some mistakes. He did. And he not only admits them, he points them out—even the ones no one would know about such as the perspective he had while approaching the motorist (“I thought he was a nice guy and just another DUI.”) However, his general mistakes brought on by “routine” weren’t the focus of my article.

My motivation to write about this two-year-old incident wasn’t the incident itself but rather the aftermath. In particular, the opinions expressed. Not the ones spewed by the ever-present website whack-jobs. Not even the ones espoused by clueless media morons. Frankly, while they may make my Irish blood boil at times, I don’t care what uneducated biased nitwits think.

I enjoy, and in fact encourage, debate within the profession. But, I get uneasy when administrators, officers and trainers not only get it wrong, but pass on flawed information to young impressionable officers. If those officers buy what they are being taught, they may wind up dead!

After the first article came out, no one contacted me directly to criticize the aftermath actions of Officer Jessop. Everyone, and I mean everyone, supported Ross’ decision to shoot Raymond Thane Davis.

However, while no one openly criticized him, many officers, including Ross told me that they have heard that some supervisors, and maybe worse, trainers, have deemed Ross’ response to be a “bad shoot.”

The quotes that started this article are real comments, conveyed to me by police officers around this country. But, the quotes and opinions don’t belong to those that passed them on to me, they belong to those officer’s bosses and trainers. That’s scary.

So let’s examine them quickly.

1.    “The officer should have set up a rolling perimeter.”

Hey, I’ve been in this profession for a long time but I don’t know what the hell that is. I know about rolling surveillance, and I guess I get the premise of a rolling perimeter. But in this case, I have a question: Are you kidding me? The whole damn town only had about 15 cops and only three were working. So somebody please explain to me how you accomplish this ‘rolling perimeter.’ Oh, and something I didn’t mention in the first article. The motorist with mayhem and murderous intent had four more loaded guns in his vehicle. Two of them were rifles with scopes. So exactly how wide would this perimeter have to be?

2.    “The shooter was no longer a threat as his back was turned to the officer.”

This one is the dumbest. Imagine this theory being a reality from a legal standpoint. Bad guy shoots at a cop but quickly turns around and the only target available is the bad guys back. But since shooting him in the back is illegal—by the way, it's not—the officer has to wait until bad guy faces him again. Hmm ...

3.    “Once he stops shooting and leaves the scene the imminent threat is gone.”

So again, let’s take this to its obvious conclusion. When is he a threat again? Do you let him simply drive away? Of course not. So, you gotta go and reengage, which means, another traffic stop. And let’s pretend that he actually stops, now what? A regular approach? A felony stop? Either way, do you actually wait until he shoots again? Or do you simply shout to him, “Hey dude, you still in a murder-mood or are you over it? How about a hug.”

And finally….

4.    “He violated policy by shooting at a moving vehicle!”

I could spend hours on this one but let me streamline the article by jumping to the obvious: He wasn’t shooting at a moving vehicle, he was shooting at the driver! A driver who tried five freakin’ seconds ago to kill him.
We as bosses and trainers have to remain in reality as we lead and teach. Ross Jessop did exactly what he needed to do, he reacted appropriately to a deadly force threat. Anyone who is teaching anything to the contrary please rethink what you are doing. In fact, please, please contact me because I’d love to have this conversation and listen to how you think Ross could have handled this better.

I’m going to end on a very serious note. I use this point in our Ultimate Survival Instincts Seminar. Some supervisors and trainers are scaring police officers to death. I mean that literally, we have officers dying on the street because someone scared them to such a point that they hesitate, freeze, or talk rather than using force when they should. Let’s not be afraid to examine real forced cases from a realistic perspective. Let’s prepare our officers to act appropriately. Let’s set them up to win.


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