Many years ago, a very new police officer
[no...it wasn't me this time] was trying to
arrest a man for a relatively minor crime.  
The man resisted the officer, and they
got involved in a violent struggle.  As
they rolled around on the ground, the
suspect got on top of the officer where
he applied a very effective choke hold.

The officer could not break the choke
hold, and he felt himself losing
consciousness.  The only means of
defense left to the officer was his service
revolver.  Just as he was about to pass
out, the officer got his revolver out of
the holster, and he pulled the trigger.  As
soon as the weapon discharged, the
suspect rolled off the officer onto his
knees and surrendered.

The officer held the suspect at gunpoint;
until, help arrived, and the suspect was
transported to the station house.  The
suspect went through the booking
process with the desk sergeant as the
turn-key (cell block officer) made a
thorough search of the suspect's
clothing.  After booking, the turn-key
fingerprinted the suspect and placed him
into a cell.

About two hours passed when the
suspect called out the familiar cell block
refrain, "Turn-key."  "Yea, what do you
want," asked the turn-key?  "I need to
go to the hospital."  The turn-key asked
the obvious, "Why?"  "I'm shot," replied
the suspect.  People in police cell blocks
often come up with some good ones, and
the turn-key didn't believe the suspect.  
After much insistence that he was telling
the truth, the turn-key said, "Okay, show
me."  The suspect dropped his pants and
pressed his thigh against the bars to give
the turn-key a close look.  

The turn-key had seen enough bullet
wounds to realize that he was looking at
one now.  When he asked the suspect
who'd shot him, he had to pause to
comprehend the suspect's reply.  The
turn-key then chastised the suspect,
"Why didn't you say something sooner?"  
The suspect answered, "It didn't hurt at
first, but now it's really hurting."

Like the Boarder Patrol agents, this
officer failed to report the discharge of
his service revolver.  What this officer
had going for him was a competent
supervisor who conducted an immediate,
competent and thorough investigation.  
In the end, after interviewing the
suspect, responding officers, the desk
sergeant, and turn-key, it was clear that
the only violation by the officer was his
failure to report the discharge of his
weapon.  All the interviews, including that
of the suspect, made it clear that the
officer believed the bullet he'd fired had
been discharged harmlessly into the
ground.  In fact, the suspect turned out
to be the best witness of all in
supporting the officer's reason for
resorting to deadly force, and his
[suspect's] belief that the officer did not
know he'd shot him.

The officer, being so new an
inexperienced, used poor judgement.  
However, he made no effort to cover up
anything, and he was really lucky.  Aside
from having a good sergeant, the same
suspect, who had no qualms about
choking out a police officer, ended up
displaying some pretty good character by
being completely truthful.  Because he
had so much going for him, this police
officer would go on to enjoy a productive
police career.

You're going to make mistakes during
your career, but don't let any of those
mistakes be stupid and totally
preventable ones.  Failing to report your
discharge of your service pistol is
certainly stupid and preventable.  
Let's start with the only thing that is
undisputed in the tragic case cited
above... those two Border Patrol agents
did not prepare and submit
administrative reports regarding the
discharge of their weapons.  I assume
there was an incident report regarding
the seizure/recovery of the drugs
involved, and -- evidently -- there was no
mention in that report referencing the
shots fired.

Also...if reports regarding the number of
agents responding to the incident is
somewhat accurate, I find it
monumentally hard to believe that no
supervisor was aware that shots had
been fired.  When you make your first
response to "shots fired" involving a
police officer, you'll know exactly what I'm
talking about.

As your police career progresses, you're
going to see some prosecutions, as well
as non-prosecutions, that have more to
do about politics than about justice.  
You'd think that since police officers are
the most frequent defendants in the
political prosecutions, cops would have a
better understanding of their
jeopardy...especially when it comes to
discharging their service pistols.

If I were to speculate, I'd assume that
the Border Patrol agents, more than just
the two going to jail, concluded that
since the shots didn't hit the guy, or so
they thought, why go through all the
paperwork?  Of course, my speculation is
only based upon many years of
experience involving a lot of police
officers who think that way.  
Circumventing what many believe to be
needless rules and procedures is all fun
and games; until, somebody gets fired,
or worse...goes to jail!

Here's what you've got to get through
your head.  There are many, many people
who don't like police officers.  They dislike
you most for the power and authority
you possess.  Many of these people are
themselves in positions of power, and
they believe that cops must periodically
be sent to jail to keep the rest of you
under control.  Of course, you'll really be
fighting cynicism when you see real
criminal cops enjoy the mercy, and
sometimes even the protection, of those
powerful cop haters and their allies within
law enforcement agencies.
Had the Border Patrol agents submitted
the proper and complete reporting
stating the same reasons for discharging
their weapons as they would later explain
to a jury, that would have been the end.  
Had the drug dealer come forward
complaining about the bullet in his butt,
the only thing he'd have gotten for his
trouble was a felony drug charge as well
as charges for assaulting the agents.

You'd think by now that police officers
would understand how excited
prosecutors get when they suspect a
cover-up.  Once they realize that they
can actually prove a cover-up, they
become ecstatic.  There's no more fertile
circumstances provided for cover-ups
than cops too lazy to write reports.  

A Police Officer discharging a
firearm is a big deal

If you ever have to fire your service pistol
in the line of duty, [aside from training]
you'll be required to submit a written
report.  There are no exceptions.  If a
supervisor ever tells you that you don't
need to write a report, reference that
stupid direction in your report as well.  Of
course, you'll be asked to remove that
reference when your report is reviewed.

Those Border Patrol agents certainly
didn't do the right thing after their
confrontation with that drug dealer.  
Whatever the reasons for not making the
proper reporting, they were certainly
candidates for punishment.  The
government had the evidence and means
to subject the agents to any number of
administrative punishments up to and
including termination of their

If the government wanted to send a
message to all Border Patrol agents,
firing the two agents would have
accomplished that goal.  However,
circumstances and political climate will
always affect how police officers are
disciplined, or prosecuted, when they fail
to follow procedures.  
Shots Fired!
"There's no more fertile
circumstances provided for
cover-ups than cops too lazy to write
reports." ~ Barry M. Baker
"Two U.S. Border Patrol agents
were sentenced to prison terms of
11 years and 12 years for shooting
a drug smuggling suspect in the
buttocks as he fled across the
U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen
Cardone in El Paso, Texas,
sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to
12 years in prison and Ignacio
Ramos to 11 years and one day
despite a plea by their attorney for
a new trial after three jurors said
they were coerced into voting
guilty in the case, the Washington
Times reported."
~ WorldNetDaily.com

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Police Exam Self Help
by Sergeant George
Godoy (Ret).  
Sergeant Godoy
served for 5 years as a police
recruitment specialist where he
personally tested over 1,000
potential police recruits.
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Today's police officers are
afforded the best ballistic
protection in history... and
it only gets better.
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
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