Ottawa Hills Police Officer Shoots Unarmed Motorcyclist: Includes Video & Hayden’s Shooting Analysis

Posted on May 14, 2010 in Police, Military, & War

Kevin Hayden –

Being a former police officer, I can’t help but offer my analysis of this traffic stop.  Many times, video cameras are the only way to learn from mistakes and are used extensively in law enforcement training.  Typically, Officers will review videos like this and discuss what happened, critique it, tear it apart and try to figure out what went wrong and why.

During my time on the streets, I dealt with dozens of potential shooting situations.  I came very close to pulling the trigger several times but luckily didn’t have to.  Some of those days I could have very easily called it justifiable.  Officers are given only a few milliseconds to determine life and death responses.  It takes a keen awareness of your surroundings, cover, and even concealment options to wear a gun everyday and enforce the law.  It’s my opinion that the Officer portrayed in the video is a rookie or has not encountered many felony stops in his career.

I say this for several reasons, most which are easy to say afterwards but I would still hope this Officer at least thought of these options before pulling the trigger.  I will simply make a list of things that should be considered when watching this video and when pulling the trigger of a firearm in defense of yourself.

– The shooting victim was riding a motorcycle with little to no cover or concealment with which to protect himself.

– The police officer was in a patrol car.  He had an engine block in front of him.  As he exited, he had the vehicle door in which to help stop bullets.

– If the Officer believed he was conducting a felony stop of 2 out-of-control bikers, why did he stop so close to Michael McClosky?  Training and common sense dictates that your patrol car should be quite a bit further back and preferably at an angle.

– Angling your patrol car gives you more cover.  Not only does it create a longer barricade, but it allows you to seek cover behind your wheels.  Car rims and brake rotors will stop just about any bullet, along with your engine block.

– Felony stops are conducted in a methodical way – regardless of the chaos going on around you, the ability to think clearly and rationally, along with executing sound, split-second reactions, is the entire reason police officers train.

– Shooting a man in the back because you *think* he has a gun is poor police work in my opinion.  Some might call that naive or asking for injury, but in this situation, the police officer already had an overwhelming advantage simply by being in a patrol car had he used it properly.  Furthermore, had McClosky actually possessed a firearm and turned to shoot, the effects of police lights, spotlights, headlights and shooting at the police officer over his back – in the dark, not knowing where the Officer is – gave this Ottawa Hills Officer plenty of time to react to an actual gun threat instead of a poorly perceived threat.

– It is my opinion that this officer acted highly inappropriately, prematurely and had a serious case of being trigger-happy.  Nothing in this video would have caused me to shoot the individual riding the motorcycle.  Time, distance, training, back-up, cover and concealment were all on the police officer’s side and he failed to use every single one of these tactics.  And that is entirely his fault.  This shooting could have easily been avoided without undo hazard to the safety of the officer.

To be perfectly honest, this John Wayne cop is a poor example of American Police Officers and I hate to say it, but I have little sympathy for him.  The Thin Blue Line can only be extended so far before it breaks.

A never-before-seen police dash cam video was shown in court today in the trial of an Ottawa Hills police officer accused of shooting and paralyzing a man during a traffic stop.

The video shows Officer Thomas White following Michael McCloskey and his friends on their Harleys. At one point, McCloskey takes off at a high rate of speed. Officer White hits his siren and McCloskey stops his bike.

Officer White ends up shooting McCloskey. Attorneys for White say he believed McCloskey had a gun. However, McCloskey was unarmed and appears docile in the video.

The jury will have to determine if the shooting was justified. White is charged with felonious assault and faces up to 11 years in prison.

Tiny URL for this post: