LEO Near Miss: Armed EDP subject reports burglary in progress
Responding officers demonstrated excellent use of the WIN principle throughout the call
Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.
The call was initially dispatched as a burglary in progress. The resident of an apartment called 911 reporting that several males had broken into his apartment. The caller sounded emotionally disturbed (like an EDP) to the call-taker, and no one else could be heard in the background.
The caller stayed on the line with the call-taker and stated the subjects were trying to break into his room now, and he was armed with a firearm. The subject stated he was going to shoot the subjects. The subject told the call-taker that the subjects had broken through, and he hung up the phone. The subject would not answer the phone on multiple callbacks.
When units arrived on scene, a patrol shield was deployed along with two officers armed with an M4 and shotgun.
The subject lived on the eighth floor of his building, and the balcony was facing an unknown direction. Units responded to the seventh floor by elevator and then took the stairs to the eighth floor. No other calls had come in from the apartment building during this time.
Units lined up in a tactical column leading up to the apartment door while contact with the subject was attempted again by phone. At first, nothing could be heard from inside the apartment, not even a phone ringing inside.
Before attempting to make contact, a male subject was heard inside the apartment yelling “get off” and “get out.” Officers yelled out the subject’s name, and he answered but did not open the door. The subject identified himself as the caller and stated that subjects had broken into his apartment. From the outside, there were no signs of forced entry to the apartment. The subject at first did not believe he was talking to law enforcement and would not call dispatch to verify.
While trying to get the subject to agree to open the door with nothing in his hands, he opened the door quickly, then shut it. The subject had opened it enough to ascertain our position in the hallway, and possibly to also see if we were law enforcement. The subject then stopped responding to officers.
A gun could be heard racking in the apartment, and we heard an ejected round fall onto the floor. The subject then stated he would open the door, and officers gave commands for him to leave any firearms in the apartment. The subject exited the apartment holding a firearm in his hand, held up above his head. The slide was visibly locked back, but it was unknown if a magazine was inside.
The subject followed all commands to put down the firearm, and he was taken into custody without incident. The subject stated he no longer had any firearms on him. While being searched, a loaded firearm was located inside the subject’s pocket. The subject stated that he had shot 4 of the subjects and they should still be on the ground in the apartment.
No other subjects were located inside the apartment, and no evidence that the subject had discharged any firearms was found either.
While clearing the apartment, a large number of aerosols and balloons were located, and the subject had been playing Call of Duty on his computer. Other firearms were located in the residence, to include a shotgun and a rifle.
We noted the subject had a clear view of the entrance to the building, and with the way the apartment was structured, the area where the tactical column had been placed ran along his bedroom wall. This was unknown to officers at the time. The subject stated he opened the door to see who we were and that he was ready to “fight his way out” had we been more of the Asian males trying to break in.
- Awareness of apartment structures and their layouts (or prominent buildings in general) in your jurisdiction can provide officers with critical information for tactical responses. This knowledge could prevent a team from staging in a vulnerable position (lining up along a wall that could be shot through during an armed encounter), and it could help officers avoid an ambush from an elevated balcony with a clear line of sight to the entrance.
- In hindsight, after the subject had opened and closed the apartment door, officers should have repositioned since the subject had seen their location in the hallway.
- Responding officers demonstrated excellent use of the WIN principle throughout the call. At arrival, “What’s Important Now” is to take specialized equipment (shield and long guns) with them. The officers used solid tactics to get to the eighth floor by going to the seventh floor first, and then they relied on good communication skills to address the subject in the apartment. The officers then appropriately searched for the subject, which netted a firearm.
- Keep in mind that barricaded subjects present a huge risk to officers. If it becomes a barricaded subject situation, specialized personnel, such as SWAT and negotiators, should be summoned to the scene without delay. Forcing a situation that results in deadly use of force without utilizing available resources and time will be scrutinized after the fact. There is no shame in initial officers holding a perimeter, if there is no active shooting, and calling for specialized units.
- It is commendable that the responding officers were not complacent on this call. They could have easily fallen into the mentality that this was just another call, but they didn’t. Instead, they took actions to keep themselves safe.
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