Lessons learned from facing an “invincible” assailant
Wear glasses when you’re on patrol, even if they’re just clear lenses
Sgt. Timothy Gramins who fired 17 .45-cal. rounds into a hell-bent suspect before putting him down offers these lessons learned from his extraordinary fight for his life:
1. Beef up your ammo reserves
“A lot more rounds are being exchanged in today’s gunfights than in the past. With offenders carrying heavier weapons, going on patrol with just a handgun and two extra magazines no longer cuts it. Carry more ammo. Always have a backup gun. Carry a loaded rifle where you can reach it. I can’t express how quickly your firearm will go empty when you’re shooting for real. There’s no worse feeling than pulling the trigger and hearing it go ‘click’.”
2. Practice head shots
“When you fire multiple ‘lethal’ rounds into an attacker and he keeps going, you don’t have the luxury of waiting 20 or 40 more seconds for him to die while he can still shoot at you. Don’t waste time arguing the relative merits of various calibers. No handgun rounds have reliable stopping power with body shots. Pick the round you can shoot best and practice shooting at the suspect’s head.”
3. Get addicted to self-improvement
“I realized very quickly after my incident that I wasn’t as good as I ought to be. You should never consider yourself ‘good enough.’ If you have a chance to get to any school, even on your own dime, study what’s going on out there and how to deal with it. Most of the training entries on my resume came after my shooting. I’m constantly thinking, ‘When is my next one?’ And ‘Will I be as prepared as I need to be?’ ”
4. Fight for something
“To overcome the evil that wants to defeat you, you have to have something you’re fighting for. What do you care most about? You have to want to win for that more than anything else in the world. It’s going to come down to the strength of motivation: the subject’s determination to kill you versus your determination to stop him. Your turn will come – there’s no doubt in my mind about that anymore – and you can’t afford to lose.”
5. Read for recovery
“After my shooting, I had some hard days, some things in my head that I had to get sorted out and work my way through. There were two books in particular that were tremendously helpful: "Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need to Know to Mentally and Physically Prepare for and Survive a Gunfight" by Dr. Alexis Artwohl and Loren Christensen and "On Combat: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by Lt. Col. David Grossman. They’re mandatory reading if using or receiving deadly force is part of your job description because they bring clarity to what’s going on in your body and your brain.”
6. Bonus tips
"Wear glasses when you’re on patrol, even if they’re just clear lenses. They’ll help protect your eyes. If you can’t see, you can’t fight.
Shoot at targets that have clothes on them. Hits are sometimes harder to see with clothing than when you’re shooting paper. Knowing that in advance will keep your confidence up in a gunfight.
Seek out force-on-force simunitions training. Get accustomed to seeing guns pointed at you and fired at you – and firing back to win without hesitation. You’ll be better prepared than officers who experience this for the first time on the street and scramble to comprehend that their life is actually on the line.”
This article, originally published 04/17/2013, has been updated.