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Old August 19, 2009, 11:54 PM   #1
akamdg
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Cops defend firing 59 shots at one man

I didn't post this article for whether or not the police were justified, I posted it because I thought it was shocking, the individual was able to be shot so much.

Cops defend firing 59 shots at one man
Civil rights leaders worried race played a role in death of suicidal neighbor
The Associated Press
updated 4:48 p.m. ET Aug. 19, 2009
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Alonzo Heyward carried a rifle around his low-rent Chattanooga neighborhood one day last month, ranting about suicide and ignoring the pleas of friends for hours before six city police officers surrounded him on his front porch and decided it had to end.

His father says Heyward told the officers, "I'm not out here to hurt anybody."

But police, who tried unsuccessfully to disarm Heyward, fired 59 rounds to kill him on July 18. The medical examiner found 43 bullet wounds in his chest, face, arms, hands, legs, buttocks and groin. Police contend Heyward was a danger to others and threatened the six officers.

Chattanooga police spokeswoman Jerri Weary described the case as "suicide by cop."

Civil rights leaders concerned
As questions continue to surround the shooting, Heyward's family and civil rights leaders take issue with the police response. Heyward, a 32-year-old moving company employee, was black. The six officers are white. They were temporarily placed on administrative leave but have since returned to work.

"We have a large concern about the amount of shots fired," said Valoria Armstrong, president of the Chattanooga branch of the NAACP.

A Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial cartoon asked "IS THIS EXCESSIVE FORCE?" — spelling out the question with letters labeling the wounds in a drawing based on Heyward's autopsy report.

His father, James Marine, 61, does not believe Heyward really wanted to kill himself or that he was trying to commit "suicide by cop."

"He just needed somebody to talk to," Marine said. "I believe he was just depressed at that time."

A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation inquiry is ongoing. Federal and local authorities are awaiting the TBI report before they do their own examinations of the case. Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox said he wants to see the TBI report before deciding whether to pursue a criminal case.

Police: There's 'no magic number'
Police spokeswoman Weary said the officers confronted Heyward when they responded to a report of three men wrestling over a gun in the street just after 4 a.m.

Heyward's father said there was never any wrestling over the .44 Magnum rifle that his son was carrying and sometimes pointing at his chin.

Police said the officers tried but failed to disarm Heyward with a stun gun. Weary said Heyward ignored repeated commands to drop the rifle and officers fired when they felt threatened by the way he moved it.

Police accounts and a patrol car video indicate the shots were fired in three volleys, all within 30 seconds. Each officer used a .45-caliber pistol. Some officers emptied their magazines, reloaded and fired again, while others didn't fire all their bullets, Weary said.

Some of the gunshots ripped through the unoccupied front room of the house Heyward was renting from his employer, the owner of a local moving company. No one else was injured.

Eugene O'Donnell, a former policeman and prosecutor who is now a professor of police studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, said there is "no magic number" when it comes to officers firing at a suspect.

If death is believed to be imminent "there isn't anybody in the country who can tell the cops 10 shots and no more," O'Donnell said.

"Unfortunately this is replicated all over the country. When you send the police they bring deadly force with them. They come armed and they come predisposed to use force," O'Donnell said.

Heyward's police record
According to court records, Heyward had been charged three times in the past with domestic assault. The first two were dismissed. The third, from a January 2008 incident, remained pending at the time of his death.

He was sentenced in 2005 to 11 months, 29 days in the county workhouse for passing worthless checks, but the sentence was suspended for good behavior and he was given probation.

He also had a few driving-related charges on his record, including a violation of the auto registration law for which he received a 30-day suspended sentence in 1997.


The morning he died, Heyward was distraught after returning from a party where he had been drinking, his father said.

"He didn't think anybody cared about him," Marine said.

Heyward also was upset about not seeing his children — a daughter and two sons — according to brother James Heyward.


Police told Heyward was drunk
The video shows that police were told Heyward was drunk and talking about killing himself before they started shooting.

Chattanooga police officers get two to four hours of training annually on dealing with people who are mentally ill or under the influence of drugs or narcotics. But Weary said the training could not be applied in this case because the situation was too fluid and unfolded too quickly.

Weary wouldn't say whether Heyward had a history of mental health problems, citing the ongoing investigation. Marine said his son had no history of mental illness.

Amanda Counts, Heyward's girlfriend, and neighbor Darrell Turner said they witnessed the shooting. They said Heyward was lying on the porch on top of the rifle when officers opened fire.

"Before the first shot was fired he was down," Counts said. "Not one time did he threaten anyone."

'Why are you shooting me?'
Citing the ongoing investigation, police declined to answer questions about Heyward's position when officers started shooting.

Counts and Turner both said that during the first brief interruption in the barrage of police gunshots, they heard Heyward ask, "Why are you shooting me?"

That cannot be heard in the recording provided by police.



Police Chief Freeman Cooper this month told Chattanooga radio station WGOW the simultaneous shooting by all six officers shows they acted properly.

"We are saying that our people did what we trained them to do," the chief said.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32478013...me_and_courts/
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Old August 20, 2009, 12:14 AM   #2
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That is a whole lot of .45s and he was still a threat. That doesn't make me happy. I thought a double tap of 230gr love would settle most BGs down.

Thank god the Cops are ok, very pleased the brass is backing up the Coppers.
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Old August 20, 2009, 12:25 AM   #3
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My first thought was that a shotgun was used and each pellet hit was counted as another GSW. The article said only .45 calibers were used.
Sounds like someone needs to spend more time at the range!
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Old August 20, 2009, 12:50 AM   #4
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usually, these types of things have not much effect on me. this story bothers me. if he ever pointed that gun anywhere near anyone, fine. he got what he deserved.

if he truly was on the ground, and asked in between volleys why he was being shot, it makes me sad. not just for him, but for everyone involved.
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Old August 20, 2009, 01:05 AM   #5
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43 wounds with some of them in his chest would indicate all shots were not while he was lying down. and the witness said he was lying on top of his rifle sounds more like he fell on it.
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Old August 20, 2009, 01:08 AM   #6
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Deadly force triangle

1. Weapon. Does the suspect have a weapon?

2. Opportunity. Could the suspect reasonably access and use the weapon? Is the officer within the max effective range of the weapon?

3. Action. Does the suspect attempt to or actually gain, draw, aim the weapon at the officer?

If the officers involved can reasonably articulate these three points (or whatever three sides of the DFT they are taught in their academy), I see no reason why they would/should face prosecution.

I feel for the family of the suspect, however if the had the good sense that God gave a chicken, he would have put the dadblamed gun down whe he was told to do so. If I'm looking down the barrels of 6 .45's held by 6 police officers, I'm not going to push the issue at the moment. We can argue the finer points of the 2nd Amendment later, for the moment I'll stick to doing exactly what they're saying.
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Old August 20, 2009, 02:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
If I'm looking down the barrels of 6 .45's held by 6 police officers, I'm not going to push the issue at the moment.
Dude:

Did you not read the story? The guy wanted to commit suicide.

The police did exactly what the man wanted them to do.

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Old August 20, 2009, 02:51 AM   #8
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it's a rediculously strong possibility that he made a motion that indicated a threat, and most people would have fired on him. but if he never intended to, i feel pitty for him. he messed up. he got shot. that being said, if he truly meant no ill will, which is something the cops could not have known, then i do feel bad for him. i don't condemn the police officers involved, but i'm glad i don't have to do anything more than give my thoughts on a forum when it comes to this. if he did ask "why are you shooting me?" i think it would haunt me to my grave.
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Old August 20, 2009, 02:57 AM   #9
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I have no problem with the number of rounds fired at someone threatening with a .44magnum rilfe.

6 cops with two mags each doesn't take long to equal 59rds. They do need practice though.

How many times should police shoot someone? Until the threat stops. If that's 5 good, 59 good, 559 so what.
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Old August 20, 2009, 03:42 AM   #10
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Gun violence in Chattanooga is getting out of hand. The police have been very hard pressed.

The city council recently voted to ban all guns from City parks and campgrounds, including those concealed by CCW permit holders too.

The department issued handgun is the S&W 4566, which holds 8 +1 rounds:




So if six officers emptied their guns, that would account for 54 shots right there.


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Old August 20, 2009, 04:27 AM   #11
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After 6 mags of .45, what is there left to shoot at??

I'm not trying to be judgmental, but I am picturing swiss cheese...
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Old August 20, 2009, 05:18 AM   #12
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43 hits out of 59 shots is 73%. That is pretty good shooting. I have read that the average is around 25% in police shootings. The whole thing lasted less than 30 seconds from 1st shot to last. I suspect he was dead on his feet within a few seconds and just took a while to go down. Never shot a man, but have seen deer react that way to perfectly good shots.
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Old August 20, 2009, 05:23 AM   #13
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Seems excessive. I mean, 43 .45's? Seems like a lot. Did they shoot the guy until he stopped moving? I don't particularly care, as I was not the one shot, and moreover I wasn't there. 43 seems like a lot though.
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Old August 20, 2009, 06:22 AM   #14
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Where the heck were the AR's? One shot would have done the job.
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Old August 20, 2009, 09:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
After 6 mags of .45, what is there left to shoot at??

I'm not trying to be judgmental, but I am picturing swiss cheese...
Six guys can put a lot of lead down range in very little time. I have no problem believing that many rounds could be fired before he went down.

I'm pretty sure I could get through 2 mags in the 30 seconds they say the shooting took. Not sure how accurate I'd be, but should be able to get close to 75% into a torso target.
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Old August 20, 2009, 09:56 AM   #16
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"on any given day, the suspect in your sights many not favorably accept (react to) the flavor of caliber in your magazine."

A standard used in my world is to KEEP firing until the focus of my attention is no longer a threat. A standing man with a gun, projecting hostile intent is still a active target First shot until Last shot fired. The key is for the good guys to be the ones firing the last shot!

I never second guess shooting incidents, there are so many variables. Just glad the good guys won.

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Old August 20, 2009, 10:48 AM   #17
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http://wdef.com/files/Alonzo_A_Heywa...803_025557.pdf

After looking at the preliminary autopsy report (link above), there are only two chest wounds! There are a total of 22 bullet wounds on the anterior portion of the body. This preliminary report does not distinguish between entrance and exit wounds.

Looks like only two good hits out of 59 rounds fired!

So this sheds light on why so many rounds were fired, because most missed.
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Old August 20, 2009, 11:10 AM   #18
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When deadly force is used sometimes you dont realize how many times you are pulling the trigger. I have had officers tell me after a shooting that they thought they shot 2 or three times when they actually emptied a magazine. I have had other officers say that they emptied their magazine when they only shot 2 or three times, dropped a loaded mag and loaded another. I have had officers say that they saw their bullets hit a BG when in fact they missed. The mind plays tricks on you when its pumped with all kinds of adrenaline chemicals.
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Old August 20, 2009, 12:58 PM   #19
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You really expect a sniper to shoot the gun out of someones hand to solve problems. Sounds like they followed procedures pretty well and this is clearly a good shoot. The report says 3 volleys of fire can be heard on video within 30 seconds. It would appear that the suspect pointed his gun at one of the officers. All 6 fired 1-3 shots and paused to re-evaluate the situation. The suspect was still on his feet and a threat so another volley of 1-3 shots per officer was fired. The suspect was still a threat so a 3rd volley was fired after a pause to evaluate the situation. I realize my theory is speculation, but based on the news report it seems very likely.

No gun can guarantee someone will drop on the spot. I've seen animals shot with non-survivable wounds stand perfectly still for 15-20 seconds before falling. Or run for 100+ yards with no heart left and holes through both lungs from 30-06 wounds

As far as the number of hits, that is pretty good shooting. A person being shot is not going to stand still with a bullseye drawn on his chest. As far as there only being 2 wounds to the chest, that means little. After the first shots the suspect may have been kneeling, squating, sitting, of laying down. For sure he is going to be moving, a lot. His chest may have not been exposed.

Edit:

When I started typing I was responding to a post suggesting a sniper could have ended this by shooting the suspects rifle. Since the moderators have deleted that post, mine makes less sense.

Last edited by jmr40; August 20, 2009 at 01:46 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old August 20, 2009, 01:00 PM   #20
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Moderator Note

I deleted a couple of posts for generalized cop-bashing and too much cussing. If you want to bash all cops, do it elsewhere. If you have something else to say, make your point minus profanity, please.

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Old August 20, 2009, 01:24 PM   #21
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A pretty common situation when there are several officers involved. Each one thinks only of the need to defend himself and keeps firing. The result is, literally, overkill. Even if the shooting was justified, the image is of a police force run amok, firing wildly and with little concern for the life not only of the target, but for the lives of innocent people.

I don't know the answer, but perhaps there should be some order naming a team leader who will determine in advance who shoots and when, and calls for a cease fire when the victim is no longer a threat. There seems to have been plenty of time to establish control while the police were trying to persuade the man to drop the rifle.

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Old August 20, 2009, 01:56 PM   #22
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A little light reading for those who believe that a suicidal suspect poses no "real" danger to responding officers:

http://www.forcescience.org/fsinews/...-their-threat/

And a little light reading for those who do not understand how or why that many rounds might be fired in such a short time by responding officers:

http://www.forcescience.org/fsinews/...ved-shootings/

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Old August 20, 2009, 02:08 PM   #23
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Quote:
As far as the number of hits, that is pretty good shooting. A person being shot is not going to stand still with a bullseye drawn on his chest. As far as there only being 2 wounds to the chest, that means little. After the first shots the suspect may have been kneeling, squating, sitting, of laying down. For sure he is going to be moving, a lot. His chest may have not been exposed.
This seems to be what most people fail to realize. An adversary isn't going to just stand still like a paper target.

This guy was suicidal, had lots of priors, had been drinking and was likely pretty strong physically from working for a moving company. It's just one of the examples of what could happen when you cross paths with someone who has come to the conclusion that they have nothing else to lose.
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Old August 20, 2009, 02:10 PM   #24
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One more interesting read for those interested in learning: http://forcescience.org/articles/tempestudy.pdf

That one is a fascinating look at response times.

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Old August 20, 2009, 02:11 PM   #25
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59 rounds and six police officers comes out to close to ten rounds per officer. I know some fired more some fired less. But it doesn't take very long at all for six officers to shoot 59 times especially when all six perceive an immediate threat to themselves and/or others. As stated, the number will always sound excessive to the public and to the untrained.

As usual, the family and friends have attempted to turn him into a nobel peace prize winner who was just having a rough day. He didn't really mean to hurt anyone. If a person gets drunk, arms himself with a rifle, talks of suicide, and then walks around in public, threatening others, there should be every expectation that six police officers will show up and then react to the threat presented.

Nothing wrong with this deal what so ever.
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