Back-Up Guns, Pt. 2

Examples of times where back-up guns made all the difference

By Dave Grossi  |   Apr 5, 2017
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In part one, we talked about policy statements, training, qualification, and agency registration for back-up weapons. But I suspect that most readers want to hear about the documented and verifiable instances where police lives were saved by back-up (or secondary) weapons. So that’s what follows.

Back-Up Gun Saves

California: A Fresno officer assigned to a high school is attacked, knocked down, and beaten with a baseball bat by a 6-foot, 250-pound student. During the assault, the officer attempted to draw his duty weapon, but inadvertently dropped the magazine. He managed to draw his back-up from his ankle holster as the student came at him again with the bat. His rounds struck the student, who died shortly thereafter.

Source: Associated Press, Fresno

California: A CHP officer is attacked and beaten with a hammer during a traffic stop. He fires to save his life, but the assault renders the officer momentarily unconscious. When he comes to, he discovers that he’s only wounded the bad guy, who’s still a threat. The officer realizes he’s fired his service weapon dry. Rather than taking time to reload, he draws his back-up from his ankle holster and uses it to take out the suspect, who is attempting to rearm himself with the hammer.

Source: California Attorney General’s Office

Florida: A Miami officer entering a restaurant for his meal break finds himself face-to-face with a couple of hold-up suspects. Disarmed of his duty gun and forced down to his knees, the officer realizes his right hand lines up perfectly with the back-up gun he carries in an ankle holster. The score at the end of this fight? Police: 2, Bad Guys: 0.

Source: Miami-Dade Police Academy

New York: An off-duty NYPD officer finds himself in a shootout with an armed robbery suspect at a local Stop n’ Rob. He fires his gun dry. Instead of reloading, this survival-minded cop goes for his extra gun, a pocket pistol. He uses that to wound the suspect and win this gun fight. The wounded suspect eventually surrenders.

Source: NYPD Firearms Unit

Michigan: A Michigan State Trooper is attacked and disarmed while conducting a traffic stop of a vehicle containing two occupants. During a moment of suspect distraction, the trooper manages to grab his back-up weapon and get the drop on Suspect #2, convincing the first bad guy to put the trooper’s gun down. Both suspects are taken into custody. No shots are fired.

Source: Michigan State Police HQ

Georgia: An Atlanta officer finds himself being assaulted by a larger, stronger suspect. On the ground and close to passing out, the officer becomes aware of his sidearm being removed from his holster by the suspect. Unable to maintain control of his gun with his strong hand, he saves his life by drawing his back-up gun with his other hand. His shots hit home, fatally wounding his attacker.

Source: Atlanta PD Academy

California: L.A. County Sheriffs deputies responding to a call of a suspect “acting violently” encounter the man armed with a metal pipe attempting to scale a cinder block wall in the town of Palmdale. After pulling him down, a struggle ensued where one of the deputies was disarmed. The suspect pointed the weapon at the deputy who managed to push the muzzle away as the suspect fired. The deputy drew his back-up and fired multiple times fatally striking the suspect.

Source: Los Angles Times

California: A late night traffic stop in San Diego turned deadly after the officer found an outstanding warrant for the operator. When the suspect produced a handgun and pointed it at the officer, the officer jumped a guard rail and drew his 9 mm. Three of the suspect’s shots struck the officer but were stopped by his vest. The suspect re-engaged and grabbed the officer’s sidearm. Unable to dislodge it from the suspect, he drew his back up from his BUG pocket and fired back. Responding back-up units found the suspect DOA.

Source: San Diego PD

South Carolina: A South Congaree officer making a transport found himself in a disarming situation. The suspect not only managed to free himself from his restraints, but also managed to squeeze himself into the opening separating the back seat from the front. He managed to snatch the officer’s pistol and shoot him. Fortunately, the officer was able to retrieve his authorized back-up weapon (a .25 cal. s/a) from an ankle rig and fire back.

Source: The South Carolina Free Republic

Pennsylvania: While visiting a convenience store one evening, a Baldwin Borough officer found herself in a struggle with a suspect determined to disarm her. Fortunately, the Baldwin Borough PD authorizes back-up guns. Her Sig Sauer .380, carried in an ankle rig, ended this assault.

Source: Pleasant Hills, Pa., PD

[Author’s Note: Thanks to fellow trainer and friend Mas Ayoob, who sourced several of these saves.]

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Dave Grossi
Dave Grossi is a retired police lieutenant from upstate NY now residing in southwest FL. He was the Lead Instructor for the Calibre Press, Inc. Street Survival Seminars from 1988 through 2000.