View Full Version : Miami Shootout Analysis: What Went Wrong?

January 24, 1999, 07:46 PM
(Quoted from a post by Michael Carlin)
...I am responding to the May 1986 Dade County shootout reference you made.

Kodiac, what I am about to say is not going to be too palatable, so I will say it as nicely as I can.

The problem appears to me to be a tactics/decision/training problem, not an equipment problem. The agency then bought a new gun (da 10 be da ONE!, which was probably not a bad move!) but did not address the root causes of the problem. Which are in my opinion poor training and/or poor tactics.

First, how do I come to this? These observations are made in recollection of the FBI training film that was made following this debacle. I had this film for an entire weekend and viewed it about 30 times about 1989 or 90.

The film was scripted by a professional team who interviewed every survivor, then trained forensics examiners compared the physical evidence with all the "eye witness" (particpants') reports.

The film was scripted and shot considering all of this analysis which is probably as close to being there as we will ever get.

The film ends with Agent Rivera talking about continuing to fight, to have the will to win.

The two bank robbers were "staked out" by analyzing their MO and predicting (accurately it turns out) where they were most likely to rob next. The FBI does this so well that it is uncanny. It is not rocket science, but it is nice to see behavior analysis worked so well as they do it!

But the planning of the subsequent operation in detail seems less than sterling.

What was known about these two was considerable, who they were. That both had apparently killed their own spouses. That they obtained firearms by killing people at uncontrolled ranges and taking their stuff.

That both said that they would NEVER go back to prison. That they were shooting about 1500 rounds of 5.56 a week in practice! These are two REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD GUYS (RRRBGs)!

Let my questions lead you to your own conclusions:

1. Where would your vest and shotgun be if you were likely to have to attempt to arrest these two RRRRBGs?

2. When you pull out to tail these two how far back do you follow? (in the movie the following distance looks like about 1 car length, at legal speed. After the analysis of the forensics teams on this they ceertainly had to ask how far back were you?)

3. Would you, while driving a "plain brown wrapper" in broad daylight one car length behind the RRRBGs, be surprised to be "made"?

4. While in contact with the dispatcher and learning that the Dade County SWAT team had just returned to the station from firearms training (very near I think they said TWO minutes away), would you choose not to ask their assistance? (I will not here conjecture as to why, but I think we all know....)

5. When one RRRBG visibly loads a 5.56 mm rifle and they begin to flee who has chosen the stop location?

6. When you are engaging these two RRRBGs across the hood of your car, who do you shoot first and where?

7. Where were detailed stop plans for each stakeout location? Did they identify locations that the stops should be attempted at?

8. Did each stakeout location have a primary and alternate stop plan which would place the FBI in such a tactically superior position that the BGs would have no choice but to surrender or die immediately?

8. Did they think that they could utter the famous Zimbalist line "This is the FBI come out with you hands up" and these two were going to "give it up"?

My conclusions are:

The center of mass every time training is the primary culprit here IMO. Whenever you can see the assailant's pupils and he is bringing lethal force to bear you NEED a OSS, and we all know that takes a CNS hit. So I would recommend that training say clearly:

Shoot the most dangerous suspect first
(not the closest one, the most deadly one, but the one with the machingun, rifle, shotgun)

If you can see his pupils shoot him in the head, in the brain stem, and keep shooting until he stops

Leave your gun in your holster until your car has stopped

If you wear glasses ALWAYS wear a strap!

If staked out for RRRRBG have your long gun in the passenger compartment with you and wear your vests!

Request backup always when dealing with RRRRBGs and try to delay until it arrives

When beginning to effect a stop have plan as to where it will occur and force them to play it your way

Don't blame your equipment for the failures of your training to address the situation resolution

All this said, let me emphasize that I feel the agents were brave and true, but that their training in the conduct these stops is inadequate!

There appears to me to be a lack of analysis beyond the first few moments of these encounters.

Algorithms, a set of steps for successful resolution of situations need to be developed.

(The FBI seemingly has a history of failing to plan to fight fire in the buildings in which the suspects are, from the Barker and Floyd days thru Gordon Call, Randy Weaver, and the WACO tragedy.)

Once again:
All this said, let me emphasize that I feel the agents were brave and true, but that their training in the conduct these stops is inadequate!
Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


January 24, 1999, 07:54 PM
This seems like a pretty good analysis (amended shortly thereafter by the "bring a long gun to a fight" mandate!). I do have at least one issue with it, and that is shooting for the cerebral area. I respect Mr. Carlin for the good info he usually posts, but I respectfully submit that virtually any mention of the fabled "one shot stop" in any situation aside from a surgical intervention in a hostage situation is unrealistic. Aiming for a smaller target is not the answer. Shooting for a large vital area with a shoulder arm is.
Comments regarding the foregoing analysis of what went wrong and flames cheerfully accepted. :D

Edmund Rowe
January 24, 1999, 09:51 PM
Haven't seen the famous FBI film, only the made for TV movie and various write-ups on the engagement.

If I was in the same situation as the G-men, I would at a minimum:

1) Have long arms in every patrol vehicle. Maybe 1 for each agent. I'd hate to be bailing out of the cruiser and my partner and I are playing tug-of-war over the 870. "I'm taking the shotgun!" "I grabbed it first!"
2) Establish ahead of time how the rolling stakeout tactics and takedown will go. From what little I read/saw, not much went into specifics of "what to do if..." The ramming technique used doesn't inspire confidence in the outcome.
3) CALL FOR BACKUP!!! Better yet get the local city police involved in the rolling stakeout, or at least let them know what's going on well in advance.
4) The accounts I read/saw didn't show much teamwork on the part of the agents when the shooting started. When I say teamwork I mean first and foremost: COMMUNICATION. Like, telling other agents what I'm doing "I'M COVERING PASSENGER SIDE" "RIFLE! COMING OUT DRIVER'S SIDE!" "HANLON IS DOWN!!" etc.
5) Seems the first thing agents did after vehicle motion stopped was blast the suspect's car from behind. A glorified spray and pray. UGH. Uses up ammo, bad example for other team mates ("I'll blast away, too!"), and inhibits communication.
"He's (BANG) co-(BANG)ming be-(BANG) hind you! (BANG)"

Would it have saved Agent Grogan's life if he made it clear "I LOST MY GLASSES! I CAN'T SEE!" So someone could have hustled him off out of the danger zone?

6) I'd put stronger tactics and preparation and team work ahead of rifle-rated body armor in this one. Although it would be impossible to foresee for sure, it seems the Mini-14 bad guy was proficient enough that if he saw a bunch of rifle-armor come out, he would have gone for head shots.
7) Have dynamic live fire training. 3-D moving targets like what Louis Awerbuck describes in his book "Hit or Myth"

DISCLAIMER: I wasn't there. I don't know all the facts. I could be wrong..DEAD WRONG. This isn't tactical advice, only my thinking. Kids don't try this at home.


January 25, 1999, 12:40 AM
You can still cover my 6, gb. :)

(ps- I'm still waiting on that damned check. :()

Michael Carlin
January 25, 1999, 08:46 AM

Thanks for moving this portion of the post to this forum.


I would welcome others' takes on this one!


Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


Scott Evans
January 25, 1999, 12:36 PM
Where are those RRRBG's now?

I wish that the agents involved would have had a better advantage and not paid so high a cost for the safety of the rest of us. I hope that all other LEO's will learn from their encounter and be better prepared. However, let's not forget to give the honor and respect due to the men who gave their lives to save others. ... and they did save others

Michael Carlin
January 25, 1999, 02:05 PM

We have a saying in the Army, "its all a technique" meaning that there is "more than one way to skin a cat".

I respect your technigue choice. But it does not change my mind. Perhaps we should agree to disagree. But I want the benefit of a discussion. Sell me, change my mind, please.

I see it: If you can see your opponents pupils (irises) then you should be shooting him in the brain stem.

With either a rifle or pistol only a CNS hit will produce an instantenous OSS reliably.

The Agent in Charge hit both of his targets with his first four shots if I recall correctly. Bullets went EXACTLY where he was trained to place them. They did not do the job instantly.

Had he shot these two with a 5.56 I am not sure that an instantaneous stop would have been achieved.

The human heart is a fist sized target, and he hit that at least once. The medula is slightly smaller. I do not believe so much so that the LE dictum that one should only shoot CofM in all cases is the right answer.

Of course, I have NEVER actually been in a gunfight. YMMV, kids don't try this at home etc.

What I am hoping to accomplish here is to generate a process of questioning the current simplistic algorithm: "Shoot to CofM in all cases."

Why did the people involved in the conflicts in Africa develop the "Mozambique" drill?

It is my contention that we may be well served by examining that simple "one size fits all" CofM solution and modify it.

My proposal is a simple test: as you observe the suspect if you can see his pupils (irises) you should shoot him in the brain stem. You should know where that is from all angles, so you must have a knowledge of human anatomy and the skill and the confidence.

Of course I recognize that there is a disparity of skills in the populace for whom the alogrithms are developed. But when those LEOs who read this forum develop their own set, their skills may be such that individually they might consider another course of action.

This is a decision that must be premade. In other words you can not be in a debate with yourself mode concerning the course.

If you are confident that you can employ the technique, then your choice might coincide with mine. If you are not then you might choose otherwise.

Please do not misunderstand: I am not saying that you are admitting that your skills are substandard if your choice does not coincide with mine. Just that your decision parameters are different.

In a discussion with a current NRA board member regarding this subject the then LEO said that LEOs in general could not be trained to be so ruthless. That people (LEOs included) are not amenable (easily trained) to be so cold bloodedly efficient.
His assertion is to their credit. I do not want about me people who are wanton in the application of force.

However, this is my matrix and how I arrive to the decision.

Is lethal force necessary?

The decision to use force the causes me to choose a target as I ready the weapon system.

Can I see the irises of the eyes? (here to fore referred of pupils, it is a simple test employed at Bunker Hill [actually Breed's Hill] "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes")

If so I will select a CNS target, (especially if employing a long arm).

Is this a universal algorithm for all LEO, no and I do not think it should be for any element for which skill and confidence are in question.

It is an option for those who are free to decide for themselves where to place their fire. When selecting a target area one should choose one that will produce the desired effect.

This also begs the question of how we are shooting. If we are point shooting can we hit a playing card size target at the distance involved reliably? If we are a sight user does this become more or less likely.

Is the speed gain by point shooting worth the sacrifice in accuracy? Yes, if you are determined not to engage anything but the CofM target. Will this method (point shooting to the center of mass) resolve the confrontation immediately? (It did not do so here!) This is one part of the puzzle I do not have, did the agent in charge or any of others use their sights, or were they employing a point shooting technique? This is a separate question from how they were trained, it is how did they actually shoot?

I do not know, for that was not covered in the FBI training film. Until this moment I presumed (probably an error on my part) that they had. If they did not and were point shooting then two things are apparent to me:

One, you can not inflict lethal but slow acting wounds fast enough to avoid further agression on the part of RRRBGs.

Two, the efficacy of this method resulted in this instance some 69 rounds fired with few telling hits on the part of the LEOs.

Does this raise some questions about point shooting? (There has to be some reason it was said in the old west that one should take enough time to make your shots count.)

Rob, I expect you, and your cohorts to produce a rebuttal here, please.

Would a shot that penetrated the brain stem have incapcitated the Ruger wielder more rapidly? I am not sure but I suspect so.

Perhaps one (I) might have recommended a Mozambique drill. That would probably work, and I might be willing to put 2 CofM first.

Given a confrontation with another firearms user at "Bunker Hill" distance I want to engage a CNS target, and I plan on the CNS first. Perhaps I ought to consider a reverse Mozambique (would that be a euqibmazoM? ;0 )?

Your choice Spectre not to is yours, perhaps you might enlighten me why you make that choice?

respectfully and....

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship ;)


[This message has been edited by Michael Carlin (edited 01-25-99).]

January 25, 1999, 04:14 PM
First let me say that I havent seen the training film, but I did see the movie (for what thats worth) and read a write up on it back in 89 or 90. The facts are a little fuzzy, its been awhile, so if I get something wrong, please correct me. I dont think it was all the fault of an enemic caliber, I dont think it was all a lack of training, I dont think it was all a lack of teamwork. I think it was a combination of all of the above that led to this tragedy. First off, the killing wound was delivered by a 9mm, correct? And it passed through the perp's upper arm and came to rest in one lung? I think I got that right. And didnt it take over 2 minutes for the perp to succom to his wounds? And wasnt he hit after the "fatal" hit? I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctally, but if that was the case, then indeed the FBI was correct in their search for a bigger, more powerful, deeper penatrating round. The 10mm they decided on would have penatrated through both lungs, in my opinion, done much more damage, and quite possibly ended the fight much quicker. Shot placement is probably 80% of a gunfight, with tactics another 10% and caliber another 10% ( thats just an estimation, mind you). I'm not sure if the agents were properly trained or not, but from what I've gathered, they really didnt use their weapons effectively in the roles they were designed for. They could have used what shotguns they had much more effectively than what they did. To win a gunfight, IMHO, you have to have superior, overwhelming fire delivered accurately into the targets. This, it seems, they did not do. As far as CNS shots are concerned, headshots during combat are virtually impossible to achieve unless your a sniper with a scoped weapon and then, maybe. Even at " spitting distance" its very difficult to achieve. Realize, that the Mozambique drill first uses center of mass, followed by a head shot. One of the reasons is that if you score hits with the first two center of mass hits, they'll slow the target down enough to place an accurate head shot. Remember, that bad guys moving, he doesnt want to get shot. Also, you dont have to hit the head to score a CNS shot. The brain stem will give you the same results. Sure, the brain stem or spine is a smaller target, but at least if you miss you've still hurt the target. You miss the head, good chance you just hit air. A deeper penatrating caliber would offer a better chance of penatrating deep enough to shatter the spine if your aiming for the "3rd button down" so to speak. Should they have had a carbine in each car with an agent trained to properly imploy it? You bet. Should they have called for back-up before the take-down? You bet. Have they really learned from this? I dont know. Maybe you guys could answer that one for me. Am I in left field here guys? What do you guys think?

Byron Quick
January 25, 1999, 06:57 PM
I agree with the CNS hit if one is close enough. That being said, let me say it is not a magic procedure. Strange things happen, folks. I know a man who was hit with a .38 Special one half inch to the left of his nose and one and half inches below his left eye. The bullet was going straight in towards all types of nifty anatomical features such as the left carotid and the brain stem. It did not make it. I also have a cousin whose girlfriend shot him in the center of mass with a .38 Special. The bullet hit his sternum even with a line drawn through his nipples. It exited one inch to the left of his spinal column. It did not hit anything in between. (Ain't he a lucky so and so!) He drove 15 miles to the hospital and walked into the ED. Neither of these individuals required surgery and both are without physical deficit. The CNS attempt was by a LEO. The handgun in virtually any caliber cannot be considered a one shot kill weapon 100% of the time. Bring a bigger gun.

January 25, 1999, 08:07 PM

It's like this: I probably can't see that well! :) (I'm kidding. I shot a 20 oz Sprite bottle lying on its side on the 25 yard line with my Glock 23 the last time I went shooting.)

I would tend to go for the larger target first, unless I had the benefit of time (as I did the last time I went shooting ;)), or unless the perp was at practically "can't miss" distance.

As I have mentioned, I am a decent shot with a pistol. I believe shooting for COM to fall into the same category as shooting revolvers DAO for defensive purposes: not the best choice every time perhaps, but so close to it that it is the best principle to instill.


I do not agree that a "deeper penetrating" round will necessarily drop a target faster. Evidently rounds such as the .44 Mag typically are no more effective than regular service calibered rounds, because so much of the energy is wasted into penetrating through the thin-skinned biped...

January 25, 1999, 09:31 PM
Spectre : What I meant by a deeper penatrating round was that it would penatrate deep enough to smash the spine on the back side after passing through an arm or such, instead of coming to rest in lung tissue as what I believe happened to the perp in the Miami shootout.

Jeff Thomas
January 25, 1999, 10:20 PM
Interesting thread. FYI, for your reference http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm . In addition to all of the comments above, it would appear that the FBI also suffered from a day of incredibly bad luck - I gather Platt was the BG from hell, and took 12 hits before he was down and out. He was still alive when paramedics arrived.

January 25, 1999, 11:27 PM
One of the aspects that always seems to be overlooked is what exactly the BG's did. It's been a while since I was in but if I'm not mistaken the technique of assaulting into an ambush (BG's assaulting into the FBI)is still taught. One of the reasons it works is because it's not expected. Based on the training films I've seen I believe that this was the biggest reason things happened the way they did, but not the only reason.

January 26, 1999, 12:29 AM
AZONE: I think your right. The agents were, after all, cops. They wanted to make an arrest. They knew these guys were dangerous, but they, of course, wanted to bring them in. The BG's, on the other hand, just wanted to kill. While the agents were trying to make an arrest, the BG's overwhelmed them with alot of firepower and turned the whole thing into a big, fat, hairy furball. Who knows? It might have been too late for the agents by the time they got out of their cars. Scary thought. --01paw

Jeff White
January 30, 1999, 12:20 PM
I'm going to agree with Michael. The failure was one of tactics. And perhaps a little overconfidence. They knew the RBBGs were armed with the Mini and shotguns, but they didn't have "hard" body armor, long guns, or enough help to effect an arrest without violence. All of these things were available to them. They turned down the help of the SWAT team.

I think the only way to affect the arrest of these two, without casualties would have been to approach them from a position of overwhelming force. I think the suspects probably would have chosen to shoot it out even in that situation rather then go to prison, but friendy casualties could have been kept down.

I don't understand why a better plan for the arrest didn't exist. The FBI was uncanny in it's ability to find the RBBGs, but it seems to me that they were "winging" the arrest portion of the operation.

Why wasn't the FBI's own SWAT unit used to affect the arrest? Two of the agents were SWAT members.

It seems to me that the suspects could have been followed or chased into position where hey ran into the overwhelming force of a SWAT unit manning a road block. If SWAT had been notified and was standing by this could have been set up by radio.

I think the entire stop/arrest attempt was flawed and all the CNS shot attempts or more powerful weapons might not have made much of a difference.


January 30, 1999, 05:42 PM
What I am going to say might inflame some Federal LEOs out there - but I'll say it anyways, cause I am right and you cant PROVE me wrong. You can argue it all you want, but you cant prove it wrong:
The unnamed (name withheld to protect the incompitent) agent who fired across the hood of his car, through the open window of the suspects car -
Even if he only had 6 rounds.
Even if it was only a snubnose.
He didnt take his shooting skills seriously, and couldnt deliver the decisive hits at a range of under 8 feet.

Every thing that went on after was a parade of mistakes.
Watching the FBIs film - it is hard to find anything done right.

I am sorry to come across bitter about this. But thats the way I feel about it.

Kenetic Defense Institute
"Sir Heckler"

[This message has been edited by Kodiac (edited 01-30-99).]

January 31, 1999, 10:25 PM

8 feet? You're serious? I can shoot a 1" square at 7 yards with my Kel-tec P11, and it has a super-looooong trigger pull. That's shooting offhand, too...

January 31, 1999, 10:28 PM
Michael Carlin: if you were speaking of 8 feet, I can definitely understand a CNS shot. I really don't see how you could miss a supported shot at that distance, if your target is even 4"...

February 1, 1999, 01:35 AM
Well, guys, I read the link that Jeff provided in its entirety, and I do agree with all of you that say their tactics left much to be desired, but I also realized as read it that they WERE shooting fairly well. Platt was hit numerous times in the chest, and Matix was hit numerous times in the face. Some people here have said that they could have taken the CNS shot from 8'. I'm not hear to cast doubt on anybody's abilities, but could you make that accurate of a shot while someone was shooting a mini-14 at you? Big difference. One of the reasons, in my opinion, is that they were carrying 38's in their 357's. I think that might have made a difference. It didnt sound like the fatal 9mm round that hit Platt was very effective either. It stated that it came to rest in lung tissue an inch from his heart. A more powerful round possibly would have ripped through his heart and into his other lung. That should have stopped him sooner...maybe. I think the biggest mistake they made, however, was their lack of planning for the likely contingensies they were to face. The mistakes that cost them their lives were made before the first shots were fired. Just my opinion :) --01paw

February 1, 1999, 02:24 AM
All I saw was the Hollywood version - and that was several years ago - so I have no REAL facts.

In the "movie", didn't the head agent decide to jump the bad guys on the back street so the armed confrontation would not happen on the crowded main highway?

IF that was the story, that hurried decision might explain why they didn't call for backup. I'd bet "overly eager" played a role as well as the ego role "We're FEDERAL agents!" (meaning no one and nothing would DARE resist!) All comes back to training, tho.

Personally, I'm glad I'm not a cop. (I ran into enough trouble just being in EMS.) But I'll keep training with handguns and keep the 12ga a lot closer than I used to.

An interesting question to me would be, what would one of us do if we were a witness to such a shootout? How would we know who was LEOs and who was BGs? What action (other than finding IMMEDIATE cover & calling 9-1-1) would each of you have taken as a bystander?

Michael Carlin
February 1, 1999, 10:02 AM
Kodiac has it about right.

The agent engaged to two suspects across the hood of two cars which were in contact with each other. The distance was diagonal across the hood of a mid size car and that plus one car width. Agent Dove did some good shooting. but his distance was greater.

This was a CNS situation if ever I saw one!

Also, you always shoot the guy with the most dangerous gun first. To ascertain that the fellow with the rifle is that one should be a decision concludable even while you are being engaged!

I would not be so hard on them as Kodiac is, but.... Kodiac you got it about right!

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


February 2, 1999, 03:55 PM
8 feet... seems close huh?
But Agent Superhero didn't need a CNS shot. With his selected weapon I dont think the bullet would have gone through enough bone to do it.
But - He could have aimed for an eye - nose - or ear. ANY HEAD SHOT at that range would have done the trick better than just throwing lead out there.


Kenetic Defense Institute
"Sir Heckler"

Walt Welch
February 9, 1999, 02:33 PM
This incident was a true tragedy for the FBI, and as with all cases involving several combatants, there was confusion and mistakes were made. I can offer a few observations, having read the autopsy report several times over the last six months or so.

First; some posters seen enamored of the idea of shooting for the head. Well, I suppose that this makes sense if that is all you can see of the target, but I think you are overrating the effects of a shot which impacts the head. Remember that Matix was struck with a bullet which bruised his brain, and lodged in his sinus, and rendered him unconscious. He regained consciousness, however, and was able to shoot afterward.
Further Platt was also struck in the head, but this had little, if any, effect on him.

The single most outstanding fact of this debacle which has impressed me time and time again is that Platt died of the first wound inflicted, a 9mm Win Silvertip, quote:
As Platt crawled through the passenger side window, one of Dove’s 9mm bullets hit his right upper arm, just above the inside crook of the elbow. According to Dr. Anderson, the bullet passed under the bone, through the deltoid, triceps and teres major muscles, and severed the brachial arteries and veins. The bullet exited the inner side of his upper arm near the armpit, penetrated his chest between the fifth and sixth ribs, and passed almost completely through the right lung before stopping. The bullet came to a rest about an inch short of penetrating the wall of the heart.

At autopsy, Platt’s right lung was completely collapsed and his chest cavity contained 1300 ml of blood, suggesting damage to the main blood vessels of the right lung. Dr. Anderson believes that Platt’s first wound (right upper arm/chest wound B) was unsurvivable, and was the primary injury responsible for Platt’s death

Despite the many rounds fired at Platt, including Mireles' last shot fired at virtually point blank range, the perp. DIED OF THE FIRST WOUND HE RECEIVED.

This, to me, is not a problem of terminal ballistics. The man continued to shoot and kill for FOUR MINUTES after receiving this wound, yet was NOT hit lethally again.

My opinion as an Emergency Dept. physician with 20 year's experience, is that the 9mm. bullet performed admirably. What more do you want of a bullet? It severed his brachial artery at the elbow, which began spurting blood immediately and continued to do so; the lung was collapsed, pulmonary vessels severed, 1300cc of blood was in his chest (nearly 3 pints).

Bullet placement is essential. Even with a lethal first hit, subsequent lethal hits may well be required to stop the suspect. In fact, multiple lethal hits, until the suspect is immobilized is probably the best way to minimize danger to LEO's.

The search for the perfect bullet or perfect caliber is much like the persuit of the Holy Grail. You may think you have found it, but it is unlikely.

If there was a deficiency at the Miami Shoot out, it was one of tactics and execution, not one of terminal ballistics.

Of course, no bureaucracy is going to admit that their policies and procedures are faulty, unless forced to do so. In this case, the ammunition was a convenient scapegoat. The switch to 10mm. a plausible solution. Which didn't last, did it?

I can only hope that the FBI has quietly re-examined their felony stop procedures and implemented useful, effective changes.

Walter Welch MD, Diplomate, American Board of Emergency Medicine

Rich Lucibella
February 9, 1999, 03:50 PM
I've stayed away from this one for my own reasons. However, I must disagree with your conclusion that the 9mm Silvertip did it's job admirably.

Reaching and damaging a vital structure is not the ultimate aim of the defensive pistol round....incapacitating the perp as quickly as possible is a better goal.

By your own admission, the head shots failed to be lethal. Could we not assume that those hits *would* have immediately stopped the fight if they were of a more powerful caliber? Could we not assume that the bullet fired by Dove into Platts side would have done even more damage and therefore incapacitated him sooner if fired from a more powerful handgun? Think about it.

If a water buffalo were to charge, mangle and kill a fellow hunter after taking a "fatal" round from a 7mm Mag, would you be comfortable continuing the hunt with the same caliber or look around for "more gun"?

[This message has been edited by Rich Lucibella (edited 02-09-99).]

Michael Carlin
February 9, 1999, 04:52 PM
Dr. Welch,

It would depend on the criteria as to whether the 9mm projectile did its job. The autopsy report opines that the wound was not survivable. That indicates that it was lethal, but it did not "stop" the perpetrators.

Having taken this hit the individual did some serious damage.

I concur that a head shot is not a panacea, as I personally know two people, each shot twice in the face/head who not only survived, but who killed their assailant.

However, at the distance represented by the distance at which the Platt and Matix were initially engaged by the first agent, I would have gone for head shots.

As I indicated in my first post on this subject at 8 to 15 feet, shooting to the anatomically correct portion of the head may have averted the tragedy.

The fact that you, as a physician feel that the 9mm did its job well in this application supports my position. The target is certainly no more difficult to penetrate to from the front, side or rear than a penetration of the upper arm, entry into the chest cavity, etc.

It is my considered opinion that when one is that close, that depending on the "hydraulic failure method" of stopping the assailant is unacceptable in terms of risk.

Let's set aside the tactical failures preceeding the gunfight. I agree that they were the root cause of the dire results. In my opinion their training in the development of felony stops lacked.

Let's presume that CNS hits are not made, would having engaged that target have resulted in a worse result?

Perhaps both would have been rendered unconscious. They would therefore have been stopped.

Perhaps damage might have been inflicted blinding them, thus their lethality might have been considerably degraded.

Perhaps the damage to the head might have lead them to give up rather than to continue to fight.

Whatever the result, the effect of several shots to the cranium at 8 to 12 feet should not be underestimated.

Had the agent engaged them both in the lower half of the cranial vault from the angle he had they might have been killed instantly. This would have resulted in a "stop".

It is my contention that training to shoot to "center of mass" in all situations is inappropriate. This my opinion. I am not advocating that all shots be CNS attempts. I am advocating that in certain circumstances that should be the target of choice. For me, this would have been one.

You may disagree. I respect your assertions that many head wounds will not result in a "stop". It seems to me at the distances that we have here, that such a shot would have no worse than the result we had.

I am advocating that we actually train to use the CNS in these "near contact" distances.

There are sure to be many objections to this. It seems to me that several brave men died or suffered horrible wounds in proving that C of M is not the right answer all the time!

I submit that training to engage the CNS shot, placing the shot in the right place, is akin to shooting an elephant with a 7mm rifle. May not be the right way to plan to do things, but when you are there, with the rifle, then you MUST do so or die!

The objective of engaging the individual is to stop him or her immediately. When hunting I plan to shoot the animal in that manner. Why, in mortal combat with a human at deadly (close) range, would I want to engage him in any other manner?

I mean no disrespect to anyone who has posted here. The agents were brave and true.

Were I engaged in close quarters with a large carnivore,I would attempt to deliver what stopping power the weapon at hand had to that portion of the animal's anatomy which would stop him.

The primary problem with the C of M target all the time algorithm is that in some cases it will get you killed. In those cases I simply suggest that those who can, use a CNS target. Train to do so. Then plan to do so.
Given these circumstance have a predispositon to do so.

It might be better than the current conventional wisdom.

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse! :)

Yours In Marksmanship


[This message has been edited by Michael Carlin (edited 02-09-99).]

Harry Humphries
February 10, 1999, 02:57 PM
I have been watching this one with great interest and have seen, what I would call some pritty good 20 - 20 hindsight, and also some darn good input.

Some have mentioned tactics, no question the tactics of "felony stop" should require "Back Up" - they do as does the tactics of common sense. Bad field call? Perhaps but I wasn't sitting in the hot seat, I don't know what influenced the decision to engage.

Training ? Do they? If so, how do they? They do, infrequently, and train like most LE - mostly square range, some mount training but very little, and probably resist compulsory qualification as a quarterly or bi-annual pain in the posterior. They train front sight, center mass, they train failure drills - you know two center mass (thoracic cavity) and one to the head. By the way the head shot lethal target zone should be the triangular outline defined by the eyebrow line and nose because it is well known that the outer perimeter of the brain case housing ( sorry Doc ) has been penetrated without effect many times in combat. I have had a prisoner, VN type, walk up to me with the outline of a bullet lodged under his forehead. The round had penetrated and traveled around the scull - he had no idea of its presence. Yet not twenty minutes later one of my shipmates, Ted Rischer, took a round in the head standing next to me - he went down - dropped as if hit by a bat. The difference - a matter of fractions of an inch and luck of the draw.

In actuality guys, and some of you know this all too well, it is often very difficult to stop an individual in a gun fight.

With respect to equipment, I refer to my comments on the "What is the smallest Caliber, etc.?" posting. Bottom line - the hand gun is a woefully underpowered device, chambered in any caliber, for the stopping job (the barrel is too sort). The operative here folks is "Stopping Job". For this scenario, there is absolutely no weapon in the arsenal better than the SH.G.. It needs to be thought of, and trained on, as the primary weapon in high risk service - not an after thought if this type of catastrophe is to be avoided in the future. It needs to be fitted with rifle sights and properly equipped to carry stand-by slugs and appropriate shot rounds with the magazine loaded with shot designed for the environment it is normally deployed (i.e. Game shot for household use and large cal. buck, shooter's choice, for close quarter outdoor encounters).

But most of all guys, be certain - the combat experience does not remotely equate to the range experience. Why do you think the national statistic for officer involved shootings has remained around ten feet with a successful hit ratio of about 20% or in 80% of police shootings 1 round in 5 actually hits the target within ten feet. Heck you can stand on your head and close your eyes on the range and hit 90% of the time at that distance. Point shooting, Front sight shooting, does it make a difference within ten feet? Not really, however, the superior value of front sight shooting comes into play eventually.

The key here is the realization that combat stress or survival stress triggers physiological changes within all of us. In the face of perceived extreme danger, especially when surprised by it, hormonal secretions induce adrenal activities that activate the sympathetic nervous system which creates all sorts of damaging effects to our ability to think clearly and respond normally.
Fine motor skills disappear at 115 beats per minute (hormonal induced hart rate increase), loss of complex (multi function activity) motor skills occurs at 145 BPM, the eyes become binocular dominant and peripheral vision is lost to a cone of about 10 inches. Auditory exclusion occurs when the visual system becomes the dominant sensory source and reaction time increases up to 400% and finally irrational behavior occurs.

( I site Bruce Siddle of PPCT here)
It is only through a quality continuing training program that these effects are minimized. We are dealing with highly perishable skills here.

Any good combat program must address the value of gross motor skills as these are the dominant skills we are left with under extreme stress, that is simplicity must rule, KISS. The program must build technique confidence which will lower the hart rate and activates a positive mind set which, in turn, enhances all types of performance. It must include a Methodology for practicing survival motor skills:
• Static - slow motion repetitions designed to develop basic motor program.

• Fluid - slow motion repetitions designed to match threat stimulus to survival response.

• Dynamic - full speed roleplaying.

Train in a minimum of response options as reaction times will increase with available options (time out-which one do I use here). And finally visualize every conceivable combat scenario. Visualize your responses - this is almost as effective as experiencing the combat and will condition you accordingly. Reaction times will quicken as will response time and anxiety and hart rate comes down.

Breath control will reduce the hart rate by controlling respiration. In through the nose in two seconds, hold two seconds, out through the mouth for two seconds resisting and working the diaphragm. this signals the hart to slow down but this is a short fix and must be used just prior to engagement.

February 10, 1999, 03:40 PM
Michael : My view is just slightly different than yours on this matter. I do not think that the Miami shoot out shows that center of mass hits should be avoided in some circumstances, but rather that One Shot Stops really shouldnt be expected or counted on. I think that multiple lethal hits to platt, center of mass, would have put him down quicker. He was shot, what, 11 times? But basically bled out. Only the first shot was deemed unsurvivable. Only one lung was perforated, correct? Well we all know that a person can live with one lung. Some, obviously, can fight with just one, too. But if both were collapsed, and his heart was hit, along with various other essential organs, he might not have lasted as long. What do you think? Stay safe, - 01paw

Walt Welch
February 10, 1999, 09:45 PM
Esteemed colleague Lucibella; I really don't think that we disagree, hard enough as that is to believe ;).

You said:

Rich Lucibella posted 02-09-99 03:50 PM ET (US)
I've stayed away from this one for my own reasons. However, I must disagree with your conclusion that the 9mm Silvertip did it's job admirably.
I said:
My opinion as an Emergency Dept. physician with 20 year's experience, is that the 9mm. bullet performed admirably. What more do you want of a bullet? It severed his brachial artery at the elbow, which began spurting blood immediately and continued to do so; the lung was collapsed, pulmonary vessels severed, 1300cc of blood was in his chest (nearly 3 pints).

Bullet placement is essential. Even with a lethal first hit, subsequent lethal hits may well be required to stop the suspect. In fact, multiple lethal hits, until the suspect is immobilized is probably the best way to minimize danger to LEO's

I don't see our viewpoints as being that different. I believe you see as beneficial shooting the largest, most powerful pistol cartridge you can shoot accurately. So do I.

The point I was trying to make is that ANY pistol cartridge is a mediocre tool for rapidly incapacitating a human being. Even though you are shooting a powerful, large caliber hand gun, be prepared to have to shoot and hit vital organs repeatedly to assure stopping a suspect.

Would Platt have died more quickly had he been shot with a 10mm or .45 ACP? Perhaps. Again, perhaps not, blaming a mediocre tool for a mediocre performance seems foolish to me.

I think you are saying, 'if only that bullet had gone a few more inches.' I agree that would have been beneficial, but I would add, AND SEVERAL MORE BULLETS PENETRATED VITAL ORGANS justto make sure that SOB went DOWN!


[This message has been edited by Walt Welch (edited 02-10-99).]

Ed Brunner
February 11, 1999, 08:38 AM
I am not expert in tactics,training or medicine but I do have some ideas.

Police departments are woefully undertrained usually because of budget limitations.

I think the Miami shootout and the L A Bank robbery illustrate the same point. The good guys were outgunned.

At the risk of being impeached let me state that the 9mm is not a good pistol round for anti-personnel use.Its place is in a full auto submachine gun where it can be dispensed by the pound.

The reason that most 9mm police shootings involve many many rounds is that it requires many many rounds.
A .45ACP JHP would be a much better choice but public opinion opposses its use because it might hurt somebody.
Marksmanship training would help in the use of any caliber but its not goung to solve the problem bt itself.

Better days to be,


Rich Lucibella
February 11, 1999, 08:54 AM
You're right. We do agree for the most part. (God, I hate when that happens! :))

Shutoku Shia
February 18, 1999, 12:52 PM
Harry Humphries wrote:
( I site Bruce Siddle of PPCT here)
It is only through a quality continuing training program that these effects are minimized. We are dealing with highly perishable skills here.

Harry, who is Bruce Siddle and what is PPCT? Thanks. BTW, to all who have contributed to this thread, this was one of the most informative and interesting thread on FBI Miami shootout I have ever read.


Shutoku Shia

[This message has been edited by Shutoku Shia (edited February 18, 1999).]

Michael Marks
February 23, 1999, 03:38 PM
Throwing my 2-cents in, I think there were fundamentally two factors that contributed to the disaster.

1st: as so clearly attested in earlier posts, there was every reason to believe these were really, REALLY bad guys. Bunching all the cars into a tight ball just seems like a bad plan. Dropping one car back with your average AR15 would have changed the dynamics considerably.

2nd: these bad guys were COMMITTED to the fight. I've studied the autopsy photos at length and see prime examples of "lethal" hits - one striking the cheek and driving into the skull, which failed to immediately incapacitate.

I think the big lesson here is one we can all reference when discussions come up re "excessive" force of heavy calibers, etc - if faced with a foe who is determined as these two scumbags were, there is no amount of pain or superficial injury in the world that will stop them in a timely manner. They were not jacked on PCP, just pumped on pure adrenaline and nastiness. That has carried soldiers through incomprehensible battles at war, and sadly will carry many a perp through a "textbook" defensive effort.

Shoot big, effective bullets, and shoot as fast and as accurately as you can until the bad guy goes down and stays down.