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Old June 17, 2018, 02:31 PM   #1
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Down but not out...

I recently read an account of a police shooting involving a gang member and an officer. The officer scored a number of hits in the initial burst of bullets and reported that the attacker "withered" and fell to the ground.

That's a fairly encouraging thing to see when you're in a gunfight. Especially if, as the officer was, you've been injured.

But that wasn't the end of the gunfight. The attacker, after lying motionless for a brief period, recovered, lifted his head and gun and tried to shoot again. The officer fired additional shots, ending the encounter for good.

It struck me that this is actually behavior that we should expect.

I have an acquaintance with chronic low blood pressure. The condition is bad enough that the attending cardiologist recommends that the person eat a high salt diet. "Salt your food heavily." is the advice. When there are acute problems with low blood pressure, the person is told to lie down and that will bring on a recovery shortly.

When a person "withers" in a gunfight, one of the possibilities is that this is occurring due to massive blood loss which causes a corresponding drop in blood pressure. When the person falls to the ground, they are, in effect, "lying down" and they may recover either fully or partially after initially lying motionless.

Now, I am NOT advising people to keep shooting an attacker who is motionless on the ground; that is obviously legally problematic. However it does appear quite reasonable to expect that the attacker could experience some level of recovery after lying on the ground for a short time. Don't get complacent just because the attacker has fallen to the ground.
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Old June 17, 2018, 03:07 PM   #2
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Absolutely. Shooting until the threat stops doesn't always mean as soon as they hit the ground. I think one potential training scar a lot of people develop is a rush to return to the holster. Actually verify the threat has stopped before ending a combative posture. The thread on the FBI Miami shooting also ties in with this.

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Old June 17, 2018, 09:03 PM   #3
Bartholomew Roberts
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It is good advice. If you have low pressure in a pump, it is easier to pump horizontally than against gravity. Somebody may not have enough blood pressure to pump blood to the brain standing up; but have enough to keep the brain running lying down.

In general, I think people have unrealistic expectations about how effective handguns are.
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Old June 17, 2018, 11:44 PM   #4
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This is something we've gone over in one of my training classes. Therre are several reasons the attacker might go to the ground, including of course, loss of BP. Another might be "playing possum," and yet another might be a fear response. Unfortunately I can't remember the exact terminology for the response, but the description is a massive galvanic fear response that can cause temporary loss of control of a person's extremities. This usually leads to the person falling down.

I've actually seen it happen to someone before; it wouldn't surprise me that this might happen to some people when they're shot/shot at. In that particular case this loss of control lasted only about five seconds.
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Old June 18, 2018, 12:35 PM   #5
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Surprisingly the US Military is good at teaching this to combat units. Clearing/ Searching/ handling enemy casualties is something that most active combat units get a lot of training doing. Just because someone is on the ground does not mean that they are no longer a threat or even injured.

Military training in how to handle this is not really practical for self defense roles as this is a group task.
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Old June 19, 2018, 06:44 AM   #6
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Military handling of a prone enemy, double tap in passing. Not really Police response.

But "it ain't over till it is." Is good advice, keeping sights on downed adversary is good advice.
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