September 2012 - Pg 2-Interview
eJournal: Going back a line or two, you mention leaving the scene, which makes me think my example of getting to safety and then calling police is in the wrong order.
Ayoob: Call immediately! You are literally in a race to the telephone!
eJournal: Our first example was of using a firearm to deter a crime. Does your answer change if deterrence was not possible and shooting the assailant was the only way to survive?
Ayoob: It is all the more important now to immediately call in. Basically, I would give my location, and I would then state, “A man attacked me. The suspect is down. We need an ambulance and police officers here.” The failure to call for an ambulance after you have inflicted one or more gunshot wounds is seen as absolute, cold-blooded lack of care. It is seen by the law as deliberate indifference and arguably even depraved indifference to human life.
eJournal: Your term “indifference” makes me think that the macro issue is society’s expectation that if we harm another member of society, we will behave in a prescribed fashion, kind of like not fleeing the scene of an accident. What does society expect of armed citizens?
Ayoob: They think if they saw someone shot, they would pull out a cell phone and call for police and ambulance. When you do not do that, and you were literally the first to know he was shot or he was about to be shot, it is seen as, “OK, what was it that you had to hide? Why did you leave that poor man to possibly bleed to death?”
Now, certainly, I would not expect someone to rush forward to give them first aid. In fact, I would recommend that you not.
You are probably the only armed person at the scene who can contain him if his violence renews, and your duty to others, including yourself, for safety, exceeds your duty to a criminal whose actions were so violent that they forced you to shoot.
That said, simple humanity says, “Call in!” What else are we going to be doing? Calling our lawyer? Having a beer? Heading home and hoping nobody noticed? Those are the acts of somebody who has consciousness of guilt and can expect to be so perceived by a jury of their peers.
eJournal: Aren’t 9-1-1 operators trained to get details from callers? In your experience, what kinds of information are they gathering, and why?
Ayoob: They will be asking, “Do you have a weapon? Is there another weapon at the scene? Are there other perpetrators?” To those questions, I would answer, “Yes, my weapon has been secured in my holster.” I would have given my description by now, so I am not “a man with a gun” when the cops get there.
They will be wanting to ask what happened, and frankly, while I understand why they do that, it is a very poor time to be giving a narrative. You are literally still in danger. Until the man you had to shoot is secured, you and others are still in danger. You have to remain alert to any other perpetrators that might be present and are not yet known to you. I think that supersedes any immediacy of giving exact details to the dispatcher.
eJournal: How can we best communicate those priorities to an insistent dispatcher?
Ayoob: I would say to the dispatcher, “Sir, I will answer all of the officers’ questions. Right now we have an active danger scene here. I’m holding the phone, I’m watching what is happening here, and I’m going to leave the phone on so you can record.”