Exercising Extreme Control in a Violent Encounter

An example of exercising extreme control in a violent encounter takes me back to January 2001. I was an active police officer and the lead instructor for Oklahoma City Police department. I already had over 5 years experience training police officers and civilians in self defense. I was preparing to fly out of town the next day for a two week train-the-trainer course in Baltimore in the area of Arrest & Control techniques. I was in great shape then and was very confident in my fighting skills. I had several academy classes under my belt in which I always stressed the importance of planning and visualization with my officers. We drilled and practiced all the time to have an understanding of what other team members would do and prepared for worse case scenarios. I had become so accustomed to a tactical mindset. I developed an adept sense of situation awareness that many call “The Warrior Mindset”.

The night I am making reference to was one in which I faced a critical situation while off-duty in the downtown area. Another police officer friend (that I will call Jay) and I took our spouses out for dinner and drinks. We had a great time but kept our drinking to a minimum as we were at a club we were not too familiar. Just after midnight we noticed the element in the establishment changed and we made the decision to leave. We walked to our cars and did not notice a small group of subjects (later found to be active gang members) had come just outside the club and had their eyes on us. They waited for us to split up before putting into place a plan to attack one of the couples. As I walked through the snow towards my vehicle Jay began driving off but two of the subjects appeared out of nowhere and walked in front of his SUV forcing him to come to a stop. They locked eyes to keep his attention as they continued walking towards the passenger side. Without notice the attack was initiated from the driver’s side by eight other gang members who smashed out his driver’s side window. They were under a bridge at the time and I had just made it to my car 70 yards away.

The sound of the window breaking echoed and sounded like gunfire. As I turned in that direction I observed approximately 8 subjects on one side and 2 on the other attempting to get the doors of my Jay’s SUV open. The first thing I thought was “Damn it! I didn’t bring my gun with me tonight!” I jumped in my SUV with my wife and sped in that direction to help. As I got within 30 yards I made the decision to use my vehicle as weapon and run over as many on the driver’s side as I could to even the odds. Just prior to doing so, Jay jumped out of his vehicle with Glock in hand. His actions forced them to scatter in different directions as I slammed on my brakes. Jay began chasing the subject that broke out his window and I exited to help run him down. We quickly caught up to him and Jay had him on the ground delivering proper justice. Several of the other gang members returned and made a semi-circle around us. I put my back to Jay and now faced five aggressive subjects who now were determined to rescue their buddy. I raised my fist and took a defensive stance, the entire time yelling for them to stay back. Jay was occupied still trying to fight a subject with his gun in his hand and both wives were near by.

It was a serious stand-off and I knew my decisions had to be right. I knew it would be a horrible outcome if I too got locked up on the ground with a few of them. They knew to utilize their numbers and one on the left began to circle around me. I remained aware and allowed him to approach close enough to deliver the most perfect right cross to eye knocking him to the ground. I turned back to the other four yelling again for them to stay back. The one subject jumped back up and made another attempt to flank me and go after Jay. I hit him again but this time targeted his nose. He fell to the ground and blood went everywhere. This absolutely enraged the others who quickly grabbed large pieces of cinder block to use as weapons against me. This was the time my spouse had called 911 and I knew help was on the way. Facing four subjects with bricks I yelled for Jay to hand me his gun. He did so and I purposely placed it in my left hand to keep my right open for the fight of my life which I felt was imminent. I yelled, “I’ll kill you if you don’t drop those bricks!” As I yelled the order repeatedly they looked at each other as to see who would comply. Before anything more happened the subject with the bloody nose jumped up again and made one last attempt to charge my friend. All I could think to say was, “Didn’t I tell you to stay down!”. I allowed him in a little closer the delivered a textbook uppercut knocking him completely out. We then saw the lights and heard the siren of a police cars a half a block away. I grabbed another one and threw him to the ground as the rest ran into the darkness. They were eventually located and during their interview they admitted that it was a gang initiation to attack the biggest guy in the club.

Now, I know some of you are wondering why I didn’t just pull the trigger and empty the weapon. All I can say is when you are in control you absolutely know the moment you have no choice but to take a life. Any one of them could have changed the dynamic of the encounter but I believe it was because I maintained a sense of extreme confidence and posture that they knew I meant exactly what I said. I still had to think of our spouses, being rushed by the subjects and the possibility of being overrun. Anyone of us could be placed in this position and should be ready. That night it was two off-duty officers and we just were not in the mood to be a victim. I must conclude with telling you that the “Warrior Mindset”, preparation and skill allowed us to make it through that situation. Officers please know it is imperative to continue training and to prepare yourself for the worse case scenario.