The Incident

How would you really respond given the same, or similar, circumstances?

By David Magnusson  |   Dec 21, 2018

By now you have seen it over and over on the news (be it local or national). Coming from South Florida, there has been an endless array of viewing and the subsequent commentary. In any case, I want you to take a look at it once more.

My Take on It

Here’s my take: I’m not going to give my take on it. Yes, I have an opinion. And, yes, I can make a very strong case for that opinion. But, in fairness, the case is under investigation. Investigations should always be based on facts with a Sunday offense as opposed to opinions with a Monday quarterback.

Putting this specific incident aside for a moment or any other incident for that matter, you should always ask yourself the question, “What would I do in that given situation?” You need to analyze what you have just seen. Would you have reacted in the same fashion? If not, what specifically would you have done or not done?

In moments where you feel threatened, is your first instinct to wrestle with the assailant or throw a right cross? Are you proficient in wrestling skills? Or are you a better stand-up fighter? Have you practiced either discipline? Have you even thought about it?

As for me, wrestling with someone who may have greater strength than me (naturally or chemically induced), may have greater ground skills, and/or thus giving him/her easier access to my sidearm is something I choose to avoid. [Note: I wrote “him/her.” This is not to be politically correct. If you never, ever think of a scenario where a woman may try to attack you and have the skills to beat you, then you are cheating yourself out of one HUGE safety fundamental: Consider all eventualities!]

At what point have you conceived a “line in the sand” where no suspect is going to cross?

Surely, it is something you should think about long before you are reacting out of sheer terror and necessity. We all allow people to yell at us in anger and we take it. On the riot (skirmish) lines, we all have had people right up in our faces trying to incite us and we take it.

So is there a difference in what we have seen in the South Florida video? This is a question, not a judgement. Does it stand to reason that every scenario is different? There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all law enforcement reaction or strategy. For many, many reasons, a one-on-one reaction to an aggressive person surely requires a different response than the aforementioned skirmish line example.

The question is, what should that response be?

What to Look For?

Regarding the video you just viewed, stay apprised of how this plays out. One question you may also ask yourself is how you would handle this same scenario if you were an arriving officer who witnessed this incident or if you were given a tape of this incident by a citizen. What would you do? How would you react?

Again, this is a neutral stance looking to get you to think. Sure, we can all say we’d do this, and list it A, B, and C. But reality often gets in the way of the best laid plans. And that’s specifically why we must carefully analyze issues as they arise with the very honest question: What would I do in that situation?

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David Magnusson

David Magnusson

Magnusson is retired as the chief of Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major. He is a graduate of American Military University with a Master's in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years.
David Magnusson

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