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Old 05-19-2013, 15:15   #1
jack76590
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Hostage rescue shot

Mas,

The recent tragic situation with the Hofstra University student got me thinking about the "hostage rescue shot."

In this case the early reports state the officer fired eight times with the first seven shots hitting the bad guy.

I am not asking for a review of the officer's performance, but I believe ideally the "hostage rescue shot" should be one shot to the head.

So if a bad guy is holding a cocked pistol to a hostage's head, what are the odds, that a single solid hit to the bad guy's head will prevent the bad guy from pulling the trigger and wounding/killing the hostage?

This potential of a bad guy killing a hostage, even after the bad guy is himself shot in the head, has been mentioned, as a concern. However, in the recent case the bad guy was shot seven times and it was the officer's eighth shot, not a shot from the bad guy that resulted in the hostage's death.

thanks, Jack
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Old 05-19-2013, 15:58   #2
Mas Ayoob
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Jack, we don't know enough details yet to meaningfully comment or criticize. Autopsies have not been made public at this time. We don't know where the suspect was hit, where the officer was aiming, the exact distance involved, etc.

We particularly don't know what the movement patterns were. Did the suspect pull the victim in front of him as the officer was firing the shot in question? If so, it's unlikely that any human being could have seen that, processed it mentally, and stopped the shot before it discharged.

One account (CNN's, IIRC) says the officer DREW and fired when the suspect turned the gun on him, which would be consistent with the officer attempting to negotiate for the life of the hostage from a non-threatening position with his gun holstered.

The only shot that will guarantee the finger going limp on the trigger of an already pointed gun is one that destroys deep brain or the highest level of spinal chord. This is an extremely difficult shot to make under the best of circumstances in the calmness of the training range, and exponentially more difficult to do at high speed with someone trying to shoot you to death.

We all need to wait to see what a full investigation reveals, and that is likely to take considerable time.

Deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the young woman and to the involved officer.

best,
Mas
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Old 05-19-2013, 18:04   #3
jack76590
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Mas,

I tied my question too closely to the Hofstra University situation. The incident merely raised for me a more narrow question.

I was thinking about the classic movie situation where a bad guy is holding a gun to a hostage's head and threatening to shoot them. More specifically I wondered if a solid head shot would make the bad guy's hand go limp or if there would be, at least in some incidents, some type of convulsion of the body/hand that was capable of discharging the gun?

If I read your response correctly a deep brain shot would make the bad guy go limp rather than into some type of convulsion.

Thanks, Jack
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Old 05-19-2013, 18:23   #4
Mas Ayoob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jack76590 View Post
Mas,

I tied my question too closely to the Hofstra University situation. The incident merely raised for me a more narrow question.

I was thinking about the classic movie situation where a bad guy is holding a gun to a hostage's head and threatening to shoot them. More specifically I wondered if a solid head shot would make the bad guy's hand go limp or if there would be, at least in some incidents, some type of convulsion of the body/hand that was capable of discharging the gun?

If I read your response correctly a deep brain shot would make the bad guy go limp rather than into some type of convulsion.

Thanks, Jack
Specifically what some call primal brain, the area of the pons and the medulla oblongata. Very small target to hit under stress.

Trauma to the upper brain occasionally causes a convulsive reaction that can "pull the trigger" if the bad guy's finger is thereon.

This is why negotiation is generally a better bet than shooting, along with other variables. In the cited case, apparently, the hostage-taker's violent action foreclosed hope of negotiation.
best,
Mas
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