LAPD Shoots Suspect From Helicopter
Los Angeles, California – Specially trained SWAT officers fired from a helicopter on Monday, killing a suspect who had engaged in an hours long standoff with the LAPD. It was the first time Los Angeles Police used a helicopter for this kind of action.
Police Chief Charlie Beck stated that the decision to use this method was not taken lightly. They had to get special permission to use a helicopter, and had to have specially trained team members to do it.
The terrain made it difficult for the SWAT officers. According to the LA Times,
The house — in the 11300 block of Alethea Drive — was at the top of a hill, surrounded by brush and debris, Beck said. That created what the chief described as a “very difficult location” for SWAT officers, contributing to the decision to bring in the officers trained to fire from a helicopter.
“The suspect definitely had high ground at all of the ground officers, was firing indiscriminately at them — and actually fired at the helicopter, we believe,” Beck said.
Police fired tear gas into the house to try to force the man outside. He was shot when he emerged about 2:45 p.m. and opened fire at police, an LAPD spokeswoman said Monday.
Everyone Comes Home
We reached out to Jeff Cotto at BAT Defense, who had some excellent insights for this situation:
The recent shooting in Sunland, California has brought many questions and anger towards law enforcement. “Why are we arming helicopters?”, “This is wrong!”, “They will turn on us”, “Why are we militarizing police”…etc. These are some comments from our last post.
So…. “why?” Why are we engaging threats from an aerial platform?
It’s not about “militarizing the police”. Not one bit. If you ever served in a combat in our Armed Forces or been in hazardous situations as a Law Enforcement Officer, you know it’s about getting the job done and bringing EVERYONE home to their families. If you have that in mind, then, “why not?” Why not provide all the training available and give our LEOs all the tools to do so.
In the LAPD’s situation, they were fighting an uphill battle which is at a great disadvantage. Callouts, tear gas and other methods were used for five hours before the gunman was met with deadly force. The call was made to send a team on a bird to get a better vantage point for this situation.
At this point, the gunman has to worry about officers on the ground and in the air which puts him at a disadvantage now. He no longer has the high ground and is in imminent danger. Best case for him was to surrender and come out with his hands in the air. Obviously that wasn’t the case and he proceeded to shoot at the officers, which ended his life. If there wasn’t an air asset above to put the pressure and disadvantage on the gunman, who knows how it would have turned out. He was in an uphill fighting position with all the time in the world. He was in control of the situation.
Getting a “birds eye view” instead of a “worms eye view” was the right decision. Chief Charlie Beck and his team absolutely made the right call for this situation. They got the job done and brought everyone home. That’s where it counts.
No, not all agencies are equipped or should engage hostile targets from aerial platforms. It shouldn’t be a last resort to throw an officer in a bird to eradicate threats who isn’t trained on aerial platform marksmanship. Agencies should have officers on standby for all scenarios, not just traffic tickets. Shooting from a bird is a difficult task that only a trained professional should do it.
Bottom line, let’s get our LEOs all the training they need for current situations and that 1% out there.
It’s our brothers and sisters that are fighting on a daily basis to protect our families at home. Give them the tools they need to get the job done, whether it’s better rifles, pistols, ammo or training.
Would you hire a plumber that doesn’t have tools to fix your sink? No, you wouldn’t. Then why is ok to hire LEOs, train them once maybe twice a year, and call it good?
Exactly right, Jeff.