Don’t get shot by police if you’re the good guy!


I’m sure many of my readers remember the recent tragic death of Johnny Hurley, who stopped an active shooter, but was then killed by responding police officers because he had picked up the shooter’s rifle, and was assumed by them to be the guilty party.

Greg Ellifritz, whom we’ve met in these pages before, has written a lengthy article explaining how best to respond in such situations, and how to avoid being assumed by police to be the guilty party instead of the “good guy”.  Here’s a brief excerpt.

  • After you shoot and the killer is neutralized, don’t keep pointing your gun at him.  Draw your gun back into a compressed ready position.  Hide it with your off hand.  Better yet, holster your gun.  Keep your hand on the gun if you think you may still need it, but you don’t want to be the guy pointing a gun around a pile of dead bodies when the cops arrive.
  • If you think you need to cover the downed killer with your pistol, the killer probably needs to be shot again.  In an active killer situation, I’m going to shoot until the bad guy is no longer a threat.  If you shoot him and he goes down, but keeps trying to shoot other people or access his weapons, HE NEEDS TO BE SHOT SOME MORE.  If he has already killed other people and is not obeying your commands to drop his weapon, HE NEEDS TO BE SHOT SOME MORE.  Solve the problem.  Make sure the killer is no longer a threat and then holster your pistol.
  • Consider how you look to responding officers.  In order from most threatening to least threatening you could be:

– Aiming gun at the suspect
– At a low ready position
– At a high compressed ready (“chest ready”) or SUL position
– Gun holstered.  Hand on gun.
– Gun holstered.  Hands in the air.
– Gun on the ground.  Hands in the air.

You’ll ultimately have to decide which is the best position to adopt depending on your analysis of how dangerous the suspect remains or the presence of additional suspects.  Just realize that the higher up on the list you appear when the cops arrive, the greater the chance that you will be shot.

There’s much more at the linkHighly recommended reading.

Friends, please remember Mr. Hurley’s tragic death.  He saved who knows how many innocent people by killing the criminal . . . only to die himself in a case of mistaken identity.

One can’t blame the responding officer, of course.  He was charging into a known “active shooter” situation, intent on saving lives, and didn’t have time to ask questions before stopping what he assumed was the perpetrator.  The same could happen to any police officer, or to any of us, if we find ourselves in a similar situation – and, in today’s mad, crazy, violent world, it’s not impossible that we will.

Let’s make sure, as far as we can, that we don’t get shot by mistake.  Greg’s article is a good starting point in that process.



  1. A good issue to emphasize, and one that has happened for a very long time. I recall an armed robbery 30 years ago where the merchant was shot and killed by an officer for the same reason. It was doubly sad, as the officer committed suicide a week later.

  2. My FB post for today; because I'm tired of caring: Have any of you folks seen a meme regarding guard dogs and sheeple and wolves? Basically, it's a meme that intimates that you sheeple are safe because there is a guard dog protecting y'all from the wolves.
    The sheeple are, the vast majority of folks that let their lives be dictated by "officials". Those "officials" would be classified as the "wolves".
    The guard dogs would be all of the true patriots that fight against all those diktats and try to get some sense back into the public discourse.
    Well, just to let all y'all know….I'm seeing the "guard dog resolve to protect"…..diminishing. Oh, don't get me wrong. the desire to protect is there…'s just the definition of WHOM to protect is becoming a question that some guard dogs are asking.
    So if you are disturbed by this change in events…..better start asking yourself……what would YOU do in an emergency.

  3. Different Greg here. I will repeat what I said on another forum because it's relevant and I mean every word from weeks ago:
    Back when I worked in a "gun free zone" (a major medical center), I told my fellow employees that I had a very bad attitude about that. Since I would be fired in a heartbeat if I carried on the job, I said that if I heard "pop-pop-pop" down the hall, don't count on me for help. I will vanish faster than a cartoon puff of smoke. I. Am. Gone.
    While I can admire the heroism of said good guy with a gun, I have a different take. It is not my duty to assist or protect anyone but me and mine. Again, I always know where the exits are and alternate exits as well. My weapon will be drawn only in the direst of circumstances, and only to negate the imminent threat to me and mine and facilitate a rapid escape. Selfish? So be it. I'll live with that.

  4. I notice that there has been no description of the scene when the officer arrived. There has been no report of the interaction of the officer with Mr. Hurley. There has been no release of body cam/dash cam videos.
    Did Hurley point the rifle at the officer?
    Did the officer give commands to Hurley to drop the weapon?

    As Greg Ellifritz pointed out in his blog today the US is tail end Charley when it comes to the amount of training that police receive.

    There are lots of incidents where police have shot people who were no threat and should not have been shot.

    I have 30 years of experience with a federal law enforcement agency so I am not anti-police. I realize how little training goes on.

  5. Sorry Peter, but you're wrong. Not out of principles, but out of reality.

    Drawing and shooting a thug is bad enough, but shooting more than once, in the eyes of prosecutors everywhere eager to build a career on the bloody shoulders of right-wingers, makes it more than a self-defense situation and tantamount to premeditated murder.

    Happens everywhere.

    Better solution, cap the bastard and make sure he's dead, then back off 30 ft and drop the gun and the holster on the ground and have your hands up with your beltline exposed when the police show up.

    And don't move.

    Else the scumbag cops will cap your happy arse.

    Even the good cops may mistake what's happening and assume the defensive shooter is at fault.

    It's getting to the point where it's almost better to shoot and run away, call your attorney, and hide out for 24 hours before presenting yourself. Almost.

  6. Yeah, I do, in point of fact, blame the cop. This was a bad shoot, and there is no one to blame but the man who pulled the trigger and killed Johnny Hurley.

    Greg Ellifritz's advice isn't completely worthless, but there are better solutions.

    Once the bad guy goes down, leave. Don't talk to anyone, don't police the ground for empty brass, just leave. Once you've turned a corner somewhere and are out of sight of the scene, holster your pistol and keep moving. Don't stop until you've had a chance to call your lawyer and talk to him.

    When you get arrested, confine your statements to:
    My name is – .
    I have done nothing wrong.
    He tried to kill me.
    I want my lawyer.

    Don't say anything else until your lawyer arrives.

    These days I probably wouldn't shoot. The sheeple who are unarmed and won't do a thing to protect themselves are casualties waiting to happen. I'd run from the shooting and refuse to talk to anyone.

  7. No no, You very much can blame the officer for shooting an innocent man dead. They really need to get out of the habit of that and the best way is to prosecute them for unlawful killings. A lot. Hard.
    Soldiers on the battlefield face that kind of REMF support from their SJA and there is no reason LEOs shouldn't face the same indictment for killing innocents.

  8. I don't see why we can't blame the officer. If I mistakenly shoot and kill someone, I'm responsible. Nothing special about shiny badges and government employees, regardless of their particular job.

  9. For those of you who expect that cops are competent with guns, allow me to disabuse you of that bit of idiocy.

    Back in the late 90's, at a large gathering of shooters for a developing gun school, I had a chat with a group of young cops. They were explaining the rigamarole that they had to deal with at their respective departments to get hired as beginners.

    The first obstacle was the hiring practice of excluding "gun culture" people. I was told that this situation had become endemic at democratic run cities, and that it took some effort to hide any previous connection to firearms. The departments would check for gun purchase records, ammo purchase records, and shooting range attendance. These records banned lots of applicants from consideration.

    This has been going on for more than 2 decades. This has been impacted to some extent by the federal push to hire former military into the police and other areas. Still, not all military are trigger pullers, and there was still a filtering effect in place for hiring.

    SWAT Team members normally were pulled from the gunnies on the force, but that may not matter much anymore, due to the ongoing attempts to exclude them from the force.

    It's been some years since I've talked to any of them about this subject, so there may have been some changes made, but I doubt it.

    One of the big problems for cops is the cost of training. Most deal with it once a year for qualification. CHP is mandated to hit the range once a month. When I worked with them, they bitched about that requirement. Very few badge toters train on their own dime. Most of them have stated that if they aren't on the clock, they are not shooting, period.

    One of the little known facts of gun use is that people who learn to shoot as children are then hardwired with that ability. Those who take it up as adults usually have to shoot regularly to maintain their ability. The cops have worked hard to eliminate that sort of ability on the force.

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